The word Repertoire is defined as “a stock of plays or dances that a performer knows or is prepared to perform”. Be it a male Jungle fowl flapping its wings to mark its territory, a mongoose jumping just a split second before the lethal fangs of a cobra attack it or bats navigating through dark caves with pinpoint accuracy – Sri Lanka’s wilderness is full of such displays.
The Repertoire – wildlife photography exhibition and coffee-table book to be launched this week showcases many such performances.
Repertoire is the collection of photographs taken by wildlife veteran, Mendis Wickramasinghe. “The majority of the photos of Repertoire focus on activities or behaviours of animals.
The rest captures portraits and photos with artistic values,” he says.
A well-known herpetologist, L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe is a familiar name to nature lovers as he is credited with the discovery of 21 new species (geckos, skinks, snakes and amphibians), also re-discovering several species of amphibians believed to have been extinct. His passion for photography is relatively recent. “My initial photography was limited to scientific purposes. But looking at others’ wildlife photographs, I’ve started getting fresh ideas about photography,” he says.
Most of the photos in Repertoire involve days of planning, he says pointing at a photo of an endemic Layard’s Parakeet and a Common Mynah. Both birds nested in tree holes of the same tree trunk, but the Mynah didn’t allow the Layard’s Parakeet to settle. “I observed this fighting behaviour for one and half weeks and spent two days waiting in the rain to take the right moment of their mid-air fight,” he said.
Capturing shots of shy animals needs more planning. Setting up his camera and clicking remotely is a special technique that he employs. “The photo of an Albino Squirrel is one such remotely taken photo. I observed its movements and spent hours to find its regular route. Then the camera was camouflaged and set-up on its path and clicked from a distance,” he revealed.
Formerly of the Young Zoologists’ Association, Mr. Wickramasinghe is the founder and president of the Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka and has served on several international bodies, including Species Survival Commission groups of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN/SSC).
The Repertoire book launch will be on Friday, October 30 at the Harold Peiris Gallery of Lionel Wendt and the photographic exhibition will be on October 31 and November 1, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Entrance is free.
The Repertoire coffee table book (172 pages) is priced at Rs. 6,500 and will be available at the exhibition.
Published on SundayTimes on 25.10.2015 – http://www.sundaytimes.lk/151025/plus/repertoire-animals-in-action-and-more-168510.html