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What? Burrowing Ghost Crab, building its home
Where? This photo was taken on Negombo Beach, Sri Lanka
Not being the most patient or subtle person when it comes to wildlife photography, my initial attempts to stalk a Ghost Crab ended with the frustratingly consistent disappearing of the crab down its hole. Residing myself to a more level headed approach, I found the most confident crab I could and waited for it to emerge with clawfulls of sand, just 6 inches from my camera.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/7.1 | 1/200s | ISO 50
What? Fisherman washing skinned fish!
Where? This photo was taken at Negombo fish market, the largest fish market in Sri Lanka
When it comes to photographing action; the closer the better. By getting as close as I could to the subject and shooting at 24mm, the widest focal length I had available, it brings a lot more energy to the photo. As a travel photographer, I always try to engage with my subject. The 24mm focal length therefore works well as it makes the viewer feel a part of the scene rather than a mere observer, lloking on from afar.
By the end of an hour photographing this fisherman and his work mates at Negombo fish market, I am in no doubt that they thought I was completely raving mad for being so interested by skinning, washing and drying thousands of smelly fish!!
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 1/800s | ISO 100
What? Old, wooden, catamaran outrigger fishing boat at dawn
Where? This photo was taken on Negombo Beach before sunrise
Using a three minute exposure allowed the clouds to move just enough to create the bright streaks in the sky. Using a 10 stop filter enabled me to extend my shutter speed by ten stops (i.e. halve the shutter speed ten times) from 1/8s to the three minutes I was after.
Being prepared to revisit a subject or destination is sometimes an important part of getting the exact photo you want. A fairly cloudless sky the morning before had rendered a very similar photo comparatively static and lacking in atmosphere. This photo was taken during ‘the blue hour’, which occurs as the first lights fills the sky about an hour before sunrise.
Nikon d600 and Tokina 17mm f/3.5 at 17mm | f/22.0 | 174 seconds | ISO 100 | Hi-tech 10 stop filter
What? Thuparama Dagoba seen through colourful Buddhist flags
Where? This photo was taken at Thuparama Dagoba, one of many temples at Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
With the flags flapping around unpredictably in the wind, I put all my settings to manual in order that I wouldn’t have to worry about focusing, exposure and framing the shot. This freed up one hand to hold the flags in place. As well as framing Thuparama Dagoba, the Buddhist flags meant I didn’t have to include much of the drab overcast sky that would otherwise have filled the top half of the photo.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 1/4000s | ISO 100
What? Cloud trails over Kiri Vehera Dagoba
Where? This photo was taken at Kiri Vehera Dagoba, the best preserved Dagoba in the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
In order to obtain a long enough exposure to catch the movement of the clouds, I used a 10 stop filter. Even using the 10 stop filter, the exposure was only 30 seconds due to the strong sun shining directly on Kiri Vehera Dagoba (Kiri meaning ‘white’). I took another version when the sun went behind the clouds, but prefer this more dramatic photo, with the bright white Dagoba contrasted against the dark, moody sky.
Nikon d600 and Tokina 17mm f/3.5 at 17mm | f/22.0 | 30 seconds | ISO 200 | 10 stop filter
What? Rice fields and mountain landscape in Sri Lanka
Where? This panoramic photo was taken just outside Dambulla in central Sri Lanka
Arriving to this location at sunrise, I was hoping for some nice golden morning light on the rice fields. Despite lacking this element, a fairly colourful morning sky and strong composition has resulted in an image I am fairly happy with. The clump of palm trees and farmers hut on the left of the photo nicely balance the single palm tree on the right. I used a 3 stop hard edge filter to stop the sky from blowing out, due to it being much brighter than the sunless foreground. This panoramic photo comprises of 4 images stitched together in photoshop.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/13.0 | 3 seconds | ISO 200
What? Reclining Buddha at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Where? This photo was taken in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Sri Lanka
The panoramic format seemed almost too obvious, but in the end I like the simplicity of the composition. The onlooking Buddhas at either end of the photo balance the shot. Its hard to go wrong really with such a beautiful, colourfully painted wall acting as a background!!
I would have liked to use an aperture of around f/12.0, but being hand held in quite low light, I didn’t want to use a shutter speed lower than the 1/25 I selected, or I the image would likely have ended up being blurry. Although I hate increasing the ISO due to increased noise, I always try to remind myself that noise is fixable, but blur is not.
Due to using a wide angle lens and being so close to the subject, I made sure that all the images overlapped by about half in order that it would blend together in photoshop. This panoramic photo comprises of 5 photos stitched together
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 1/25s | ISO 800
What? Sigiriya Rock
Where? This panoramic photo of Sigiriya Rock was taken from Pidurangala Rock in the ‘cultural triangle’ of central Sri Lanka
As soon as I found out about Pidurangla Rock, I knew I wanted to visit it in order to get a photo of, rather than from, Sigiriya Rock, the most famous spot in Sri Lanka. I did try some compositions with Pidurangala rock in the foreground, but this had the effect of making Sigiriya Rock seem like a minute speck in the distance. It was only when I included Sigiriya Rock directly in the foreground that I could find a way to convey it’s enormity and the incredible way it rises from the jungle plains that hug its base. This panoramic photo of Sigiriya Rock comprises of 4 photos stitched together in photoshop.
Nikon d600 and 70-200mm f/2.8 at 112mm | f/9.0 | 1/15s | ISO 200
What? Star trails over Adams Peak (Sri Pada)
Where? This photo was taken from Slightly Chilled guesthouse in Dalhousie, at the base of Adams Peak (Sri Pada) in the highlands of Sri Lanka
This star trail photo shows 36 minutes of the stars rotation and was created by combining 72 30 second exposures. Needless to say, due to the 2am start required in order to climb the 5400 steps by sunrise the following morning, the decision to take photos at 10pm at night was not a popular one with the rest of the people I was sharing a room with!!
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/2.8 | 36 minutes (72 x 30 seconds) | ISO 800
What? Misty sunrise view of Adams Peak landscape
Where? This photo was taken from the summit of Adams Peak, the highest point in Sri Lanka
There is a risk with a photo like this one that it is simply becomes a ‘nice’ photo of a ‘pretty’ view. Whenever I am faced by such a vast (360 degree), overwhelmingly jaw dropping view, I always try to isolate the elements I want to include and find a well-balanced composition. The lake works well as an overriding subject and the ridge on the far left and right help balance the composition.
While including the sun might be considered poor use of the early morning like, or maybe a little bit cliché…I started the 5400 step climb at 2am in order to watch the sun rise over the horizon. There was no way I wasn’t including it in the photo!! I used a 3 stop hard edge grad filter in order to correctly expose both the sky and foreground in one shot.
This panoramic photo, taken from the summit of Adams Peak comprises of 5 photos stitched together in photoshop.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 55mm | f/22.0 | 1 second | ISO 50 | 0.9 (3 stop) hard edge grad filter
What? Tea plucker, plucking tea on a tea plantation
Where? This photo was taken on a tea plantation near Haputale in the Ceylno Region of Sri Lanka Hill Country
I slowed down the shutter speed to 1/20s in order to blur the tea pluckers hand as she plucked tea leaves. Also, by crouching slightly I was able to both create depth by placing tea leaves in the foreground, whilst also revealing more of the ladies face. I wanted to include as much of the tea plucker’s face as possible in order to increase the personal nature of the portrait. The Sri Lankan people, and in particular the tea pluckers and fishermen are some of the most friendly people I have ever met with the warmest smiles in the world.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/3.2 | 1/20s | ISO 50
What? Stilt fisherman
Where? This photo was taken at Weligama Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
I used a 5 second shutter speed in order to blur the waves as they crashed past the stilt fisherman. I think the 5 second shutter speed worked better than the 30 second version I tried, as it was still short enough that the spray from the breaking waves can be seen. Finding a neat composition amongst randomly placed stilts was quite tough, but the stilt that this fisherman chose on this morning allowed me to place one stilt on each of the far left and right of the frame in order to balance the composition.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 70mm | f/22.0 | 5 seconds | ISO 50
What? Stilt fishermen seascape
Where? This panoramic photo was taken at Weligama Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
Revisiting a location nearly always results in better photos. Having had time to think about the photos from the day before, I decided that I wanted to show the Weligama stilt fishermen as part of a landscape photo rather have them as the main subject.
Combining blurry water photos into a panorama is always a challenge. The key to getting this one to work was waiting for waves of roughly the same size, and releasing the shutter at exactly the same point in each of the three images that make up this photo.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/11.0 | 4 seconds | ISO 100
What? Galle lighthouse
Where? This photo was taken from the city walls of the Old Town of Galle on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
As I was walking along the city walls of Galle Old Town, I saw these steps which I thought would work well as a leading line towards Galle lighthouse. I also used a polariser, which brings out the vibrant blues in the sky.
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/8.0 | 1/200s | ISO 100
What? Palm tree at sunset on Mirissa Beach
Where? This photo was taken at sunset on Mirissa Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
Cliché alert!!! Nothing quite like a palm tree at sunset on a beach! Nothing else to say really!
Nikon d600 and 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm | f/10.0 | 1/30s | ISO 200
What? Sunrise at Mirissa Beach
Where? This panoramic photo was taken at sunrise at Mirissa Beach on the South Coast of Sri Lanka
There is always time for one last photo. This was pretty much a grabbed shot, as I walked directly from the beach to pick up my bag from reception and jumped straight into a car to the airport.
The sky always plays an enormous part in deciding how to compose a photo. On this cloudless morning, it was a no brainer to have the palm trees lining the top of the photo.
This panoramic photo of Mirissa Beach at sunrise was cropped from a horizontal photo.
Nikon d600 and 70-200mm f/2.8 at 170mm | f/10.0 | 1/100s | ISO 100