Archive for the ‘Nature Photography’ Category

You can see it; the ‘fire’ in his photographs

December 1, 2015
A coffee table book, The Children of Eden – Tribute to Sri Lanka’s Wildlife, by Rajiv Welikala, will be launched on December 5 
Young tuskers (c) Rajiv Welikala

“I consider Sri Lanka as one of the last Edens left on earth and wildlife as its true children. So I want to make my maiden book a lasting tribute to the beauty of Sri Lanka’s natural heritage,” says Rajiv Welikala who will launch his coffee table book along with his wildlife photography exhibition on December 5.

“Children of Eden- a tribute to the wildlife of Sri Lanka”, the coffee table book contains 120 of the best images Rajiv has captured over 17 years.

Sleeping leopard on white sand

Sleeping leopard on white sand

The images cover a vast variety of species, from the more charismatic and iconic members of Sri Lankan wildlife such as leopards, elephants, bear, and whales to smaller members such as birds and lizards. A few landscape shots illustrate what this Eden looks like.

Rajiv’s special interest in tuskers is evident as the book features more than 10 photos showcasing some of Sri Lanka’s magnificent tuskers such as the elusive Wilpattu tusker ‘Megha’, Kawdulla’s giant tusker ‘Enigma’ and the late Siyambalangamuwa tusker.

The young tuskers and playful elephant calves are truly Children of Eden.

We see some fine wildlife photography regularly. So how do you take a photograph that still impresses? Writing the Foreword to ‘Children of Eden”; promoter of Sri Lanka’s wildlife and well known wildlife photographer Gehan De Silva Wijeyeratne answers this question.

Who is more curious ? The Owl or the photographer?

“It is about light, composition and the right moment. Some things never change and the elements of what makes an arresting image stand true.

Whilst technology and the strengthening of disposable incomes may make access to photographic opportunities more democratic, great photography still comes from ‘fire’–the fire within the soul, one that burns intensely, with a passion for nature and a commitment to seek, to wait, and to take great photographs”.

Mr. Wijeyeratne adds that the answer to the above question lies within images of Rajiv’s boook.

A Thomian, Rajiv says, “Joining the college’s Wildlife Society was a turning point in my life, which would determine my lifestyle and passion to this day.

The club would organise a camping excursion to a national park every term holiday. I had always wanted to capture the moments I experienced in the wild and show it to my family back home. This motivated me to start photography at a young age.”

Rajiv received his first camera, a second hand Yashica when he was 13. “I practised and honed my skills in photography over the years, as well as gradually upgrading my camera equipment thanks to hand me downs from my father.

I try to learn from the work of seasoned photographers, but most ideas come about by trial and error. Every trip into the wild teaches me something new, and I firmly believe that we never stop learning,” says Rajiv.

He also advises the new generation who aspire to be wildlife photographers to think differently and try out new ways to capture those moments in the wild.

However, the welfare of the wildlife must come first and it is important not to disturb the animal. Follow wildlife photography ethics even if it means compromising the best photo opportunity, Rajiv advises.

Eurasian Hopooe - You can sense the puff of dust as it dust bathes

Eurasian Hopooe – You can sense the puff of dust as it dust bathes

Many photographers rarely take the effort to describe their interesting experiences in the wild, but Rajiv shares them through his blog .

The book will also feature many interesting anecdotes and stories of Rajiv’s experiences, adventures and encounters throughout the years, which makes interesting reading for wildlife enthusiasts and casual readers alike.

The book launch and exhibition of the ‘Children of Eden’ will be held on December 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Harold Peiris Gallery, Lionel Wendt. The exhibition is open to the public.



Seated bear in Yala

Seated bear in Yala

HI RES - Megha - An elusive Wilpattu Tusker - Rajiv's favorite Tusker photo

Majestic and wild: ‘Megha’ – The elusive Wilpattu Tusker

Rajiv Welikala

Rajiv Welikala


Repertoire: Animals in action and more

October 29, 2015
A pictorial gateway to Sri Lanka’s nature to be launched 

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.

Endemic layards parakeet fighting an intruding Mynah

Endemic layards parakeet fighting an intruding Mynah

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 –

Colorful bugs

Russell's viper

Junglefowl territorial call

Mendis wickremasinghe

Repertoire - COVER PHOTO and THE BACK


Realising a mission and passion together

January 19, 2013

Two wildlife enthusiasts �Dr. Janaka Gallangoda and Nadika Hapuarachchi present ‘Life: A Journey into the Wilds of Sri Lanka’, a coffee table book and exhibition�

By Malaka Rodrigo

When wildlife lovers campaigned in 2005 against a hydropower plant at Bomuru Ella in Nuwara Eliya, among them were a medical officer attached to the Nuwara Eliya hospital and an IT specialist working in Colombo. Though in unrelated fields, their common passion for environment conservation and photography made them good friends and they went on many field expeditions together sometimes combing leech infested forests past midnight in the freezing cold.

January 17 will be a special day for both Nadika Hapuarachchi and Dr. Janaka Gallangoda as they launch their coffee-table book “Life: A Journey into the Wilds of Sri Lanka” which will be followed by a three-day photographic exhibition.

The hard cover coffee-table book has some 159 wildlife photographs captured with their technical skill and artistic sensitivity.�

The cover photo of the books says it all- a lone Purple Heron on a skeletal tree against the backdrop of a tranquil rainbow. Revealing the story behind the photo, Nadika said the photograph was captured at Kumana Villu a few years ago on a rainy evening. “It was pouring out there- the jeep tracks leading to Kumana were flooded. The rain threatened to ruin our photo opportunities, but when it ceased, there was a beautiful rainbow across the Kumana Villu. The lonely Purple Heron was just picture perfect against this backdrop and this single photo was worth the difficulties of the whole trip.”

Dr. Janaka’s favourite subject is birds though the book also highlights his other wildlife pictures. Having studied at Rahula College Matara and then graduated from Karapitiya Medical Faculty where he pursued his passion for nature in his leisure time, he was instrumental in forming the Nuwara Eliya Nature Protection Society (NEPS) while serving at the Nuwara Eliya Hospital. Together with like-minded activists, he went into the forests in Nuwara Eliya to save animals from the clutches of poachers. NEPS also held an annual photographic exhibition that helped him sharpen his photographic skills.�

Old Royalist Nadika is now the manager at E-Soft Computer Studies, Piliyandala branch and an active member of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Galle (WCSG). He too has been involved in many campaigns to expose wildlife rackets.

Nadika Hapuarachchi

‘Life: A Journey into the Wilds of Sri Lanka’ tries to convey an important conservation message by taking the public through a photographic journey highlighting the natural beauty of the landscapes and the extraordinary wealth of life forms found in Sri Lanka.�

The reader encounters the elusive leopard who is trying to cope with a noisy crowd of tourists at the Yala National Park, the juvenile Scops owl healed by humans and the splendour of daybreak at Horton Plains. Wildlife big or small has equal prominence – the photographs capture giant elephants to small flies mating.�

At the end of the book, the authors discuss certain conservation issues in detail- the problems due to unplanned tourism, snares, road kills, land-slides, forest fires, elephants captured from the wild etc. This makes it a book of different format as these issues are also the ones the duo are fighting in real life.
The book is dedicated to two doctors- Dr. Sanjweeva�Ranwella and Dr. Amith Munidradasa who both died young. “Dr. Ranwella and Dr. Munindradasa left a legacy of love towards nature and people that only a few can follow, so we wanted to dedicate our joint effort to them,” said Nadika.

A Juvenile Hawk Eagle eating a snake

The book will be launched on January 17 and the exhibition at the Harold Peiris Gallery will be open from the Jan. 18 to Jan. 20 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.� The book is priced at Rs.3,900 with a pre-publication price of Rs.3,400 until the 20th. More photographs from the book can be viewed at Online orders too can be placed�through the website.

Published on SundayTimes on 13.01.13

Picture perfect misty Plains

January 1, 2012

Horton Plains is one of the country’s most spectacular natural landscapes. Enormous grasslands edging the unique cloud forest, the surrounding mountain ranges and wildlife unique to the area make it a dream location for every photographer. With the aim of improving amateur skills on covering the beauty of the misty plains, a special field Photographic Workshop was recently organized by the National Photographic Art Society of Sri Lanka (NPASSL) at Horton Plains.

Misty Hortan Plains : Pix courtesy NPASSL

“Horton Plains is like a woman. At one time the sun shines smiling and the next minute, the mist changes the mood completely. Taking photographs in Horton Plains sets its own challenges, but it is a rewarding experience,” said NPASSL executive director Shantha K. Gunarathne.

The mist is indeed a unique feature at Horton Plains. Photographing in the mist is different from shooting in clear weather, but it also creates opportunities for an artistic shot. Scenes are no longer necessarily clear and defined, and are often deprived of contrast and colour – yet this can make the whole scene beautifully mysterious, adding a professional edge to the photo, say the experts.

The mist can sometimes make the subject into nothing but a husk of a silhouette. Photographing the silhouetted shapes is also another photographic opportunity. Depth and light conditions add more life to the picture. Water droplets in the mist also make light scatter a lot more than it would otherwise. This greatly softens the light, but also makes light streaks visible from concentrated or directional light sources. “However, like in any form of art it is the creativity of the individual that makes a photo taken in Horton Plains a good one,” point out the experts.

Instructor Rohitha Gunawardane highlighted the macro photography opportunities at Horton Plains – wild flowers and small creatures like frogs or horned lizards unique to this area. Most digital cameras used by amateur photographers are capable of capturing close range photos, so this can be a rewarding experiences for those who do not have sophisticated zoom lenses.

Wildlife photographer Isuru de Zoysa, – who frequently visits Horton Plains sharing his experience as a resource person at the workshop warned of the need to protect your camera from the damp when photographing in misty conditions. It usually drizzles at Horton Plains and the mist also brings lots of water droplets which can harm camera equipment. “One should be prepared to protect one’s camera equipment in the field,” advises Isuru. The mist can also cause condensation and these water droplets can accumulate in the lens and camera body. Taking along a clean absorbent cloth to wipe the lens and the camera is a must.

Established by Wilson Hegoda in 1950, the National Photographic Arts Society conducts classes, workshops, seminars and field excursions. A three-year diploma course in photography is also available free of charge.

Rays of sun penetrating cloud forest
A white-eye feeding on a flower on the plains
Team photographers at Hortan plains engulfed by mist

A chance to click your best

The 38th Annual Exhibition and Competition of Photography organized by the NPASSL will be held from December 16– 18. Four categories – Amateur Monochrome, Amateur Colour, Open Monochrome and Open Colour are open to all and photographs taken on any theme can be submitted. For more details see, email or call 777 519679.

Published on SundayTimes on 04.12.2011