Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, as part of my story, The Capital Lake, which runs in the January 2017 issue. The oriental darter (Anhinga melanogaster) is also known as the snakebird because of its serpent-like neck.
Tens of thousands of clay oil lamps, discarded after Buddhist worship ceremonies at the Sri Maha Bodhiya. The heap of lamps was still too hot to approach closely, and would have made a fine barbecue. Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. December 2016.
Puttalam, on Sri Lanka’s west coast. December 2016.
Jade is a 16m seagoing catamaran with a crew of three, capable of carrying eight passengers in four cabins. I took her small rubber dinghy out after sunset to shoot this photograph of her anchored for the night off the east coast of Sri Lanka; as part of my story, Racing Before the Wind, which ran in the June 2016 issue of Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines.
Morning over the walls of the 17th century Dutch fort of Galle, in Sri Lanka. Shot from the Triton Bastion in May 2015. The rampart on the left stretches to the Vlagklip Bastion in the distance. Inside the walls is the old town. The Vlagklip Bastion (also known by its later English name, Flagrock) is the southernmost point of Fort Galle and, beyond it, the Indian Ocean stretches 8,000km, almost unbroken, to the Antarctic.
Sunset over tea plantations in Bogawantalawa, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. February 2014.
Little cormorants dry their wings after a morning dive in the Diyawanna Oya, Kotte, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. My story, The Capital Lake, appears in the January 2017 issue.
“Line houses”, the homes of tea plantation workers, surrounded by the tea bushes that are their livelihood. Baduluoya Valley, Central Highlands, Sri Lanka. January 2016.
Egrets fish peacefully just a dozen metres from a busy road in Sri Lanka’s administrative capital, Kotte. The Diyawanna Oya is an artificial lake, created in 1981 by dredging the marshland to build the country’s new parliament building. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, as part of my piece, The Capital Lake, which runs in the January 2017 issue.
Designed by the late Geoffrey Bawa, and completed in 1982, the Sri Lankan parliament building sits on the islet of Duwa, in Kotte, southeast of the commercial capital, Colombo. Kotte was once a kingdom in its own right until annexed by the Portuguese in 1597, and the islet of Duwa was a recreational area for Portuguese troops who were not allowed to drink in the nearby palace grounds. The marshland around Duwa was dredged and deepened during the construction of the parliament building, creating the Diyawanna Oya, an artificial lake. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. My story, The Capital Lake, appears in the January 2017 issue.
The little islets on the Diyawanna Oya in the southeastern Colombo suburb of Kotte are home to the globally threatened spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis), which is relatively rare even in Sri Lanka, though frequently seen around Colombo’s lakes. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. My story, The Capital Lake, runs in the January 2017 issue.
“Sri Lanka is a land without lakes. This might seem like a ridiculous observation when one notes that it is almost impossible to travel anywhere in lowland Sri Lanka without being near some large inland water body. But these are not lakes; they are reservoirs, or “tanks” as they are called locally. Every single one is manmade. And throughout history, Sri Lankans became expert at creating the lakes we did not have.”
My story, The Capital Lake, on exploring the Diyawanna Oya by boat, runs throughout this month of January 2017, in Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. Follow the link to read the full piece and see more photographs, or pick up a mag if you’re flying this month.
2016 was my first full year doing any sort of professional photography, and it was an amazing year, shooting mostly for Serendib, the inflight mag of SriLankan Airlines, but also occasionally for Explore Sri Lanka, the country’s premier travel mag. I had three cover features, a chance to spend the night at sea on a sailing yacht, search for crocodiles in the marshes of the Bentara River, climb Ritigala, and eat the rice that fed the kings of Lanka over 2,000 years ago. For those of you not following my blog that closely, this what it looked like:
Climbing the Walls — cover feature on the Galle Fort — Serendib January 2016.
Heirlooms Unforgotten — cover feature on the historic rice of ancient Lanka, now being reintroduced to modern Sri Lanka — Serendib, March 2016.
Racing Before the Wind — cover feature on luxury sailing off the east coast of Sri Lanka — Serendib, June 2016.
Mysteries in the Jungle — on the Batatotalena Cave, the disputed sixteenth Solosmasthanaya — Serendib, February 2016.
The Cave in the Jungle — tracking prehistoric Balangoda Man through the rainforest to his home in the Batadombalena Cave — Serendib, March 2016.
The Road to Ritigala — a road trip along the road made for road trips — Explore Sri Lanka — March 2016.
In the Shadow of the Mountain of a God — from Ratnapura to Mahiyanganaya; a visit to the temples of Saman — Serendib — April 2016.
The Temple of War — a west-to-east drive across Sri Lanka to find the mysterious second Nagadeepa Temple — Explore Sri Lanka, April 2016.
Secluded Peace — a visit to the beautiful Ammaduwa Temple — Serendib, May 2016.
The Colpetty Market — some urban exploration through one of Colombo’s relatively recent landmarks — Serendib, July 2016.
Colombo’s Long Sand Street — a story on Mt Lavinia Beach, Colombo’s most famous strip of sand — Serendib, August 2016.
The Mystery of Ritigala — a climb through the ghostly ruins of Ritigala Mountain — Explore Sri Lanka — August 2016.
Eternal Bentota — a story on Sri Lanka’s most famous resort town and its surprisingly adjacent wildlife — Serendib, November 2016.
A Beat of the Ages — traditional Sri Lankan drum-making — Serendib, December 2016.
Having crammed in two more shoots over the holidays, one for Serendib, and one for Explore Sri Lanka, watch this space for more of my work next year. Thank you for having followed my journey thus far. It’s been fun, and hopefully next year will be even better. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
A bathroom opens off a small side garden at Brief, the bungalow and estate of the late landscape architect, Bewis Bawa. Kalawila, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, as part of my story, Eternal Bentota, which ran in the December 2016 issue.
Detail of a thammatama or pokuru beraya, a pair of conjoined drums traditionally played with sticks. The drumheads are stretched animal skin, lashed tight with rawhide. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, as part of my piece A Beat of the Ages, the story of traditional Sri Lankan drum-making, which ran in the December 2016 issue.
Morning fishing against the backdrop of the Seguwantivu and Vidatamunai Wind Farms on the eastern shore of the Puttalam Lagoon. December 2016.
Painfully young Buddhist monks visit the Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. December 2016.
Spear fisherman, Puttalam Lagoon, Sri Lanka. December 2016.
Square-cut bacon pizza, with sweet corn and mozzarella cheese. Germany, summer 2016.
Looking south from the Teldeniya Rest House. This small government hotel consists of very basic rooms with a view I have never tired of since I first saw it, twenty years ago. Central Highlands, Sri Lanka, March 2016.
Nimal Wickramasiri, a master drum maker strings rawhide laces through the drumheads of a Yak, or Ruhunu bera, one of the traditional drums of Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, as part of my story, A Beat of the Ages, which appears in the December 2016 issue.
A locked shrine room at the Sri Sumana Saman Devalaya in Deraniyagala, Sri Lanka. February 2016.
Beggars wait by the footwear of devotees outside the Sri Muthu Vinayakar Kovil on Sea Street, in the old Colombo area of Kochchikade, Sri Lanka. April 2016.
A sweeping view of what is locally known as Cheena Kotuwa, or the “Chinese Fort”, an area on the western side of Galle Bay, just outside the 17th century Dutch fort. The Ming Dynasty explorer and diplomat, Admiral Zheng He, visited Galle four times in the early 15th century, with the massive ships of the imperial treasure fleet; but I haven’t been able to discover if this has any connection to the name. The photo shows Custom Road, the Galle fish market, the beach, and Galle Bay in the background, as seen from the Sun Bastion, the Galle Fort’s northeastern strongpoint. Sri Lanka, September 2016.
Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines as part of my story, Eternal Bentota, which ran in the November 2016 issue.
The Modergam Aru, in northwestern Sri Lanka, forms the southern boundary of the Wilpattu Ntional Park, the country’s largest nature reserve. February 2016.
Thunhis Gala (literally, the Three-Headed Rock), part of the Knuckles Mountain Range, towers over the A26 Highway that drops 600m down the eastern face of the Central Highlands, from Digana to the flatlands around Mahiyanganaya. The highway, which includes the hair-raising Dhaha Ata Wanguwa (Eighteen Bends), is one of the best driving roads in Sri Lanka. Leave Digana as early as you dare and beat the traffic. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine, as part of my road trip piece, The Temple of War, which appeared in the April 2016 issue.
Nimal Wickramasiri, a master drum maker, from a long line of traditional Sri Lankan drum makers, at work with his apprentices, in his workshop in Battaramulla, close to Sri Lanka’s administrative capital, Kotte. Three stages in the making of a drum can be seen in this photograph. The woman in the foreground is stripping lengths of heavy-duty rawhide which will be used as cords on drums similar to the one Nimal is stringing in the background. The other apprentice is smoothening the ends of a wooden geta bera body to receive the leather drumheads. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, as part of my story, A Beat of the Ages, which appears in the December 2016 issue.
The Colombo docks, with the Ports Authority building in the foreground, shot from the Harbour Room of the Grand Oriental Hotel, Sri Lanka. September 2016.
“The hands and fingers seemed to work to an inner beat, to a pulse, only the drum-maker himself could hear. As wood was smoothed, leather cords tightened, and cowhide stretched, they would be periodically tested, plucked, tapped, thrummed by the fingers, searching for a quality defined by sound…”
In Battaramulla, a master drum maker stretches and ties layers of animal hide to form the drumhead of a Yak bera, a traditional Sri Lankan drum. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines, as part of my story, A Beat of the Ages, runs in the December 2016 issue.
“…He tries out various beats with his palms, his fingers, and the kadippuwa – a drumstick – the sound is almost hair raising, like the heartbeat of Lanka, racing and slowing and then racing again, unbroken through the ages.”
A drum maker tunes a freshly made dawula, a traditional Sri Lankan drum. Next to him stands his own well-used geta bera, as well as several tabla bodies awaiting varnishing and finishing. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. My story on traditional drum making, A Beat of the Ages, appears in the December 2016 issue. Check it out when you fly SriLankan this month, or follow the link.
Garlands and crushed flowers decorate the Nagadeepa Viharaya, close to Mahiyanganaya, in eastern Sri Lanka. The stupa is believed to date to the 2nd century BC, when it was built by King Dutugemunu of Anuradhapura in gratitude for his victory over the Chola king, Elara. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine. My road trip piece, The Temple of War, appeared in the April 2016 issue.