Latest News

Behind the scenes at Plus One Photo Tours

TravelLocal on Asia

18Jul

TravelLocal, our partner travel company, is an online platform connecting travellers with local experts around the world. All trips are entirely bespoke, crafted with local knowledge and expertise, and payments are bonded through ABTA to ensure complete financial security.  https://www.travellocal.com

 

Mergui Archipelago – Myanmar

From the mist-clad stupas of Bagan, Myanmar, to the iconic outline of India’s Taj Mahal at sunrise, Asia is full of unmissable travel experiences. Vibrant and colourful, its cities, landscapes and villages are a photographer’s dream and have drawn creative minds from across the world for centuries. While it’s relatively easy to take in the classic highlights, getting off the beaten track and gaining some authenticity can be a lot more challenging. With that in mind, TravelLocal’s experts have shared their knowledge of the most culturally immersive and unique experiences in their country. From nomadic island-hopping to yoga with locals, here is our shortlist of Asia’s ultimate off the beaten track encounters…

With white sand, azure waters and spectacular sunsets, the islands of the Mergui Archipelago are a photographer’s dream. Although usually celebrated for their stunning landscapes and wildlife, the islands of Mergui are also home to an ancient and fascinating indigenous culture. Known as ‘sea nomads’, the Mokens spend their lives almost entirely on water, learning to swim before they can walk. For unforgettable memories of Mergui, take some time out of your itinerary to spend with the Moken people. Observe their fishing and hunting techniques, unchanged for centuries, and gain an insight into Myanmar’s ancient nautical traditions.

An artist’s life in Kandy – Sri Lanka

One of Sri Lanka’s most artistic cities, Kandy is a colourful treat for the senses. To get a slice of its rich culture for yourself, head to its rural outskirts and take part in an artistic retreat. Surrounded by towering mountains and rolling green hills, you’ll have no shortage of inspiration! Learn watercolour painting techniques and still life sketching, before heading out into the city to try out your new skills under the watchful eye of your tutor. With evenings spent preparing local delicacies and taking part in writing workshops, this local-led experience offers an insight into the reality of creative, rural life in Sri Lanka.

 

Practice yoga and meditation – India

With such deep cultural roots, it’s hard to imagine a better place to practice yoga than among the stunning landscapes of India. Take a class overlooking the Taj Mahal, far from the crowds but still picture perfect; or lay your mat on the bank of the Ganges and let your mind drift away. This local-led excursion is the perfect way to become absorbed in India’s ancient culture while also embracing its cosmopolitan must-sees. Spend your days trekking through mountain surrounds and exploring iconic Indian sites before winding down for an evening of practice and guided meditation with local teachers.

 

Explore the hidden temples of Angkor – Cambodia

With the likes of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm stealing all the limelight, the further afield temples of the Siem Reap province are easy to overlook. Two such examples are Beng Mealea and Koh Ker, lost for centuries and almost entirely reclaimed by the forest around them. Further from the average tourist track, you are less likely to have to share these temples with heaving crowds. They also make for an idyllic sunset spot, ideal for budding photographers and nature lovers. Once the sun’s gone down, head back to Siem Reap and take in a Phare circus show – a taste of local culture to top off a day of exploration!

Make it Happen

To lose yourself in Asia’s sensational cultural offerings, click on the links above or head over to TravelLocal’s destination pages.

 

All images by Plus One Photo Tours.

Product Review: Saal Digital

26Jun

Over the years I have used many different companies offering photobook products. Most recently we decided to try the Photo Booklet from Saal Digital.

 

Photo Booklet Creation Process

The creation process is very simple. Firstly, you can download their own ‘Saal Design Software’ directly from the website (www.saal-digital.co.uk). Once this is opened the product is chosen and the template automatically begins. You can choose the number of pages and size of page from the outset, but if you need to add more pages or delete empty ones this can be done at any time.

There are a few basic page layouts to simply drop the pictures into, but it’s just as easy to drag and drop the images as you go. Once an image hits a page, the dialogue box appears giving options of crop, size, position, border, shadow and more, so by doing it manually you can really get the exact layout that you want. There’s also the option to add text anywhere on the pages, and lining images up couldn’t be easier by using either the positioning tool or the slide ruler on the top and side of the screen. You can select your images from your computer using the standard dropdown box on the left, then highlight the image you want and ‘click and drag’ to the page.

You can save your project at any time, so you’re not tied to creating the book in one sitting.

Once the project is finished, you can add it straight to the shopping cart with one click. This brings up a preview of the book first, and then continues to the payment pages.

 

Delivery Time

After two days, an email was received stating that the product had been shipped. The company is based in Germany, so standard shipping is with DHL and a tracking number is provided. Once the book came into the UK, final delivery was done by Parcel Force and it was received 5 days after shipping notification.

 

Product

We chose the Photo Booklet, a spiral bound 200g/m2 matte paper which is subjected to a six colour printing process. I opted for 30 pages and sized at 21×30. This would be ideal to see how the printing quality would fare.

Packaging is in a sturdy cardboard sleeve which really protects the book during transit. The booklet has a clear matte protective sheet on the front and back which protects the outer cover. As any page can be designed to suit including the option of adding text you can create your own front and back covers.

Front Cover

Back Cover

The paper is high quality matte, which stops any distracting reflections when looking at it under artificial light. Colour rendition is accurate and true and the printing is very sharp.

 

The design software allows you to get creative with page layouts and when the booklet is laid flat, a double page spread looks great. The software allows you to overlay additional images at any size and position.

It was interesting to see how black and white images faired during the printing process, and pleasingly, they were reproduced well with the mono balance just as accurate as the colour.

The photo booklet is bound with a high quality metal spiral. It has no nasty, sharp ends which allows the pages to be turned easily and the book to be laid out flat.

 

Overall Verdict

In conclusion, the photo booklet by Saal Digital is a quality product at very reasonable prices. It’s a great way to print, view and share your amazing photographs when you get home from travelling rather than scrolling through a computer screen. It gives you the chance to continue your creativity and produce something memorable and much more enjoyable to look at than the traditional photographic print. Highly recommended.

 

(Saal Digital can be found at www.saal-digital.co.uk, @SaalDigital #saaldigital)

Black & White Images

31May

It’s true that travel images should be colourful and bright wherever possible to show the remarkable features and experiences that can be had amongst different locations and cultures. Some areas particularly are a feast of colour such as India, Sri Lanka and the Far East with bright clothing, statues, buildings and temples, not to mention the scenery.

That said, some subjects can be enhanced after the shoot by converting the image to black and white. Not all scenes or pictures benefit from this conversion but others actually become more visually appealing and have greater impact in monochrome. I tend to know, even before pressing the shutter which images will finish up as black and white. I generally look for the type of composition or scene that will work best for this. Some examples of images that look great with a little post processing are people (close ups of old, weathered faces), some city street scenes, buildings and geometric patterns which can make for stunning ‘abstract’ images. I look at a scene and visualise how I want it to look after conversion before taking the shot, it’s not just a case of taking the pictures and then after loading onto the computer trying out which ones look good without colour. Sure, this can be done, but usually those shot with B&W in mind at the time always look the best.

Most DSLR cameras these days have an option in the menu to actually photograph in B&W. This should be avoided and I would strongly recommend to always shoot in colour. The reason for this is so that when the processing is being done, the subtle tones can be changed much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The above image was taken in Gerona, Spain. A busker was playing in the gardens behind the cathedral. I could see at the time that the combination of his yellow shirt with the green and beige background would be very much the same. Also, his face with that look of concentration framed by wiry hair and beard was perfect for B&W. The image was shot from a low angle and using an aperture of f2.8, the depth of field leads the viewer along the instrument and straight to the face, which is the main focal area of the composition. The background is also sufficiently out of focus so as to not be a distraction. The image was shot in RAW, then converted in Lightroom. Initial B&W conversion was then followed by subtle tweaks of contrast, highlights, blacks and shadows to get to the look I wanted. A very small amount of vignette was also added to frame the subject a little more.

The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York is a work of art in itself. The structure, both exterior and interior can be more appealing than the actual art within it at times. The internal spiral walkway which leads from the ground to the top floor is perfect for an abstract type image with its bold shape and minimalist colouring. The above was shot with the immediate intention of a B&W final image. From ground level shooting vertically to the large skylight, the shapes were offset so that nothing was symmetrical. The colour original shows the cloud and blue sky through the roof and the cream interior walls. In itself, the image is fine but to get that more striking look, a few adjustments were made. Conversion in Lightroom included adjustments to boost some areas of highlight, darken some blacks and shadows. Care was needed not to overdo the tonal changes otherwise the detail of the glass roof and the lights around it could be burnt out.

This image is the $4 Billion Uculus Shopping Mall and Train Station at the World Trade Centre New York. The image was shot to accentuate the ultra modern lines in comparison to a traditional skyscraper. Only a portion of the building was needed as the full exterior scene was invaded by construction, buildings and tourists. It was taken with a clean B&W final image in mind. The sunny day gave great shades of light and dark but due to the colour of the structure, the inevitable blue caste was always going to be an issue. The colour original shows that the lighting and entire image is very blue and lacks impact. Back in Lightroom and after B&W conversion, the highlights, blacks and shadows were tweaked to give a much stronger image.

The final image is from Valencia, Spain and the Palau De Les Arts Reina Sofia. The building is an imposing sight and resembles something out of a science fiction movie. This was shot at night using a tripod. The exposure was 6s at f16 to ensure crisp focus through the entire frame. The colour original is still a nice shot with the purple lighting and the softened cloud in the sky. However, due to the amount of artificial lighting, the image lacks real ‘punch’. I had already photographed the whole building, but wanted a more interesting and unusual, detail image, again shot solely with B&W in mind. The conversion and adjustments in Lightroom have eradicated the clouds and given way to a simple and bold abstract.

If you think about B&W before the shot, the final converted image will always be better. As with all travel photography, the difference between a ‘nice’ picture and a great image is to take a step back, think, plan, visualise and then shoot.

 

You can learn about these techniques and more on a Plus One Photo Tour, where we will take guests to popular locations, as well as less touristic areas to give a true flavour of a country as well as teaching photography techniques and camera knowledge.

Creative Use of Exposure Time (Capturing Movement)

16May

Some travel images benefit from using the shutter speed or exposure time creatively.

In basic terms, the exposure time is the length of time that the shutter is open to allow the light onto the sensor. A fast shutter speed allows enough light to expose the image correctly and ‘freezes’ movement, whilst a slower shutter speed, will ‘blur’ movement. Slower shutter speeds can mean greater depth of field which needs to be factored into the type of image that you want to create.

Using the exposure time creatively can make an image more appealing as it gives life to the picture by adding the feeling of movement. Some scenes benefit from this so that the viewer has a sense of ‘being there’ and seeing what was happening rather than simply looking at a snapshot of time.

This image was taken on Brooklyn Bridge, New York. The scene is composed at f13 which gives a large depth of field ensuring that all the main elements are in focus, such as the bridge, the road and the overhead sign. A shutter speed of 1/80s was used so that as the iconic yellow taxi passed by, the exposure allows it to move. Any slower and the taxi would be too blurred, any faster and it would have been ‘frozen’. This technique gives the viewer the feeling of actually being on the bridge.

 

The image below has used a much slower shutter speed. It was taken at f10 with the camera mounted on a tripod. This aperture has enough depth of field to keep the entire building in focus which is the main subject of the image. It was taken during early morning rush hour so a slow shutter speed of 0.8s was used to allow the bus to pass through the frame whilst the shutter was open. This gives a more creative look to the picture rather than a static architectural type shot.

 

It’s not just vehicles that provide good subjects for creative movement in images. Some scenes hugely benefit from showing people moving. Grand Central Station in New York is a bustling hive of activity 24hrs a day. It’s full of commuters, travellers, passengers and tourists. The two images below were shot again with a slower than usual shutter speed to show the activity that is happening all day long. Because people are invariably smaller subjects that vehicles, they can quite quickly move enough during the exposure to almost disappear. When shooting a subject like the station, a balance was needed to show some movement, but also the people who were stood around including the flash from a tourist’s camera!

 

These two images were taken at 1/6s at f6.3 and 1/3s at f5 respectively.

 

Cityscapes can also benefit from a little exposure time creativity to give more ‘drama’ and certainly more impact than a fast shutter snapshot. The weather and in particular moving clouds, can give a great contrast to static buildings. By spending some time on the set up of an image, the result will set your image apart from the many hundreds of identical images that are being taken at the very same spot and at the very same time.

The New York skyline with One World Trade Center is an iconic view from Brooklyn across the Hudson River. On a windy day the water is choppy and can look quite messy in the foreground. This image was taken with the camera mounted on a Manfrotto BeFree travel tripod and the shutter was controlled with a cable release. The windy conditions and direction of the clouds was perfect for a more creative shot. Due to the bright sunny conditions, a Hoya Pro ND 10 stop filter was added to extensively limit the amount of light passing through the lens. This resulted in a shutter speed of 25s which was long enough to allow the clouds to move and also to ‘smooth’ out the water so as to be less distracting.

 

Finally, one technique for using a slower shutter speed to good effect is panning. So far, all the images have been taken with the camera static, the image composed, and the exposure time adjusted to allow elements to move within the frame. Another creative style with impact is to focus on the subject whist it moves and blur the foreground and background. This requires a few simple considerations. Because the shutter speed is slower than would normally be used for a moving subject, the camera has to be moved (or panned) at the same speed as the subject. Focusing is done by way of Servo (or tracking) and as long as the camera moves at the same speed it effectively makes the main subject static. This in turn means that a slower shutter speed can be used as if taking a picture of a motionless subject. By the very nature of a slow shutter and the camera moving, the foreground and background is ‘dragged’ or blurred through the image.

 

These two images are very similar, one urban taken at 1/40s at f3.5 and one rural taken at 1/50s at f8. If the shutter speed is too fast the wheels can still be frozen, this has less impact and also can look like the subject is simply parked. The panning technique gives a crisp subject but allows the viewer to experience the movement and the atmosphere of the scene much more.

 

All too often, slow shutter or long exposure time techniques are reserved for waterfalls and moving water, which does have its place and is a great way to photograph these subjects. However, there’s so much more creativity to be had whilst travelling, and capturing movement is one of the most fulfilling.

 

You can learn about these techniques and more on a Plus One Photo Tour, where we will take guests to popular locations, as well as less touristic areas to give a true flavour of a country as well as teaching photography techniques and camera knowledge.

 

Sri Lanka – Tour Recce Day 6

09May

No trip to Sri Lanka would be complete without a visit to see traditional stilt fisherman, so on our last day we headed to Waligama Beach in the early hours, which gave us to opportunity to take this iconic shot. This has been a ‘bucket list’ image to capture and the experience didn’t disappoint. We were treated to half an hour with them alone.

The intention of this shot was to create a more ‘dreamy’ image. It was a cloudy morning but this worked to our advantage to produce the milky white background. As the waves were breaking around the stilts, a technique was required to smooth the water so that it matched the foreground. This was done by using a 10 stop ND filter to slow the shutter speed. The fishermen obliged by keeping still during the lengthy exposure to keep the image sharp. The coloured attire jumps out of the white surroundings for perfect impact.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f4, 13s and ISO200. The camera was mounted in the sea on a Manfrotto Be Free travel tripod and the shutter triggered with a cable release. The exposure was created using a Hoya Pro ND 1000 screw in filter attached.

 

Just along the coast from Waligama is Galle. This has an old Colonial fort with quiet shops, restaurants and a market. Just outside in the busier section on the beach is the fish market. Local fisherman either use boats or land based nets to catch the fish which they immediately sell on shore.

This image depicts a group of fisherman all pulling together to drag one of the huge nets out of the ocean and onto the beach. The image was take from a low angle with the focus made on the closest man on the right. As the depth of field takes effect, the image leads the viewer along the line and into the sea.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f2.8, 4000th/s and ISO200 with a focal length of 30mm.

 

Galle itself is full of interesting people. Two images of the locals could not be more different. The first was of a local woman who was actually taking part in a photo shoot. She stood by a white pillar whilst the local photographer took pictures from directly in front. Having looked at this angle, it was decided to capture her from the side and slightly off centre. Advantage was taken of the white pillar and white wall background to accentuate her bright red dress. This gives a simple image with impact.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f4.5, 160th/s and ISO200.

 

 

 

 

In stark contrast a local man who owned a wood carving shop was standing outside as we passed. After we remarked on his beard, he untied it to give a great image. His beard had been growing for over 15 years.

Taken with Nikon D4, Nikon, Nikon 24-120mm, at f5.6, 500th/s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both locations for these images form part of tours operated by Plus One Photo Tours where guests are taken to less touristic areas in order to give a true flavour of the country, it’s culture and way of life and offering the opportunity to capture lasting images which are not normally achievable by the regular holidaymaker.

Sri Lanka – Tour Recce Day 5

08May

An early morning start was needed to arrive at Hortons Plain just before sunrise. Here the temperature is much cooler due to the elevation, which means that low lying cloud flows through the valley and a diffused sun is almost on a horizontal level. This was the perfect time to capture a silhouette of a Barking Deer. The deer roam wild on the plain and fortunately a curious one decided to greet us as we parked the car.

This image was taken after many attempts to run ahead, crouch and compose the shot as the deer walked ahead. Eventually it fell into place and an added bonus was the tree in the background. The shot was framed at ground level with the sun purposely partially covered by the deer’s antlers to avoid lens flare. Conversion to black and white in processing was chosen to give a more dramatic capture.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f5, 6400th/s and ISO250. Exposure compensation at -0.3stop.

 

Yala Game Reserve measures some 34,000 acres and is home to around 60 leopards, elephants, crocodiles, deer and many species of bird. It is a much more open and rocky environment compared to that of Wilpattu, which we visited earlier in the week. An afternoon game drive gave the opportunity to photograph a green bee-eater which was perched alone on a branch.

This image was composed slightly left of centre as the bird is facing left to right, this was to give the subject space to ‘look into’.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Sigma 150-600mm ‘S’ at f6.3, 500th/s and ISO400. Exposure compensated by -0.3stop. Lens supported on the side rail of a game jeep at a focal length of 569mm.

 

Both locations for these images form part of tours operated by Plus One Photo Tours where guests are taken to less touristic areas in order to give a true flavour of the country, it’s culture and way of life and offering the opportunity to capture lasting images which are not normally achievable by the regular holidaymaker.

Sri Lanka – Tour Recce Day 4

05May

This morning was an early start before daylight on a jungle safari in Wilpattu Game Reserve. Wilpattu has not long re-opened after being closed for 30 years following violence perpetrated by gun smugglers who used the roads to transport their contraband inland from the ocean. The reserve has more dense bush compared to other safari reserves in Sri Lanka, such as Yala.

The reserve is a delight for wildlife watchers and in particular birdwatchers with an amazing array of species including Jungle Fowl, Kingfisher, and the image shown, Serpent Eagle.

This magnificent raptor was sitting in a tree above a lake and was totally relaxed and surveying it’s territory.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Sigma 150-600mm ‘s’ from a vehicle with the lens supported on a bean bag at f6.3, 500th/s with a 524mm focal length. The aperture was selected to keep the subject and the branch in focus but blur the background sufficiently to give a clear yet colourful setting.

 

From Wilpattu we travelled to Anuradhapura historical ancient city which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and dotted with many stupas and ruined palaces. The site is still only partly excavated.

With the stunning blue sky, the white and striped stupas make for a perfect image. The image was taken to show two stupas in line against the clean blue backdrop. Lighting was very harsh, so it was crucial to select the correct angle for the shot to capture the sky without it being burnt out. There were other buildings and distractions around the stupas so the tight composition was preferred so as to not clutter the image and keep it simple.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L at f6.3, 3200th/s using 40mm focal length.

 

 

This image was taken at one of the ruin sites within Anuradhapura historical ancient city. If one looks at detail in a scene rather than the scene as a whole, intricate images will appear. This is a shot of steps which has carvings in the stone. The shot was taken lying down to be level with the subject and composition here was crucial. The steps lead into the image from the bottom left corner and draw the eye to the carving. Depth of field is also important and focused on the carving only. This coupled with the lead-in of the steps which are out of focus immediately brings the viewer to the detail.

During processing, black and white was chosen so as to accentuate the gritty texture of the stone.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L at f4.5, 2500th/s.

 

Both locations for these images form part of tours operated by Plus One Photo Tours where guests are taken to less touristic areas in order to give a true flavour of the country, it’s culture and way of life and offering the opportunity to capture lasting images which are not normally achievable by the regular holidaymaker.

 

Sri Lanka – Tour Recce Day 3

02May

Today was a visit to the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. This is a large Buddhist temple which houses one of Buddha’s teeth within a golden box. Buddhists visit from around the World to pray and offer gifts. During the morning musicians gather around the shrine and play music for visitors. The shrine is popular with Indian, Sri Lankan and Chinese and has several rooms containing various praying areas and statues.

The image above was captured in front of one of the shrines. It was important to record the worship but without intrusion so this was composed along the table of flowers with shallow depth of field. The vast array of colour is portrayed here also which is typical of such temples.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f2.8, 60th/s and ISO 400.

It was noticeable that the tourists and visitors were stood in front of a shrine which contained a large Buddha, flowers and smaller statues. All photographs being taken were of the entire shrine and from a standing position.

This image was taken from a kneeling position along the surface of the table at the front of the shrine. The small statue was the key focal point here, in order to offer a different perspective and to show the bright colours. Shallow depth of field was selected with a right of centre focal point again to give a more interesting image.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f2.8, 30th/s and ISO2500.

 

The next stop was a tea plantation and factory in the Sri Lankan mountains. The plantation produces white, green and black tea depending on which part of the leaf is used. Sri Lanka exports the vast majority of its tea so that which is drunk domestically is usually the poorest standard product.

The leaves are picked from the bushes by women and then taken to the factory further down the hill for processing.

This image is a typical image of tea pickers from this area. They wear the baskets on their backs supported by a band on the forehead.

Taken with Nikon D4, Nikon, Nikon 24-120mm, at f5, 400th/s, ISO100.

 

The tour around the factory showed the whole tea making process from drying the leaves, fermenting, sorting into white, green and black tea and the bagging for transport. It was a unique experience to see the industry we take for granted at work and to be able to capture images within this environment.

This image shows one of the tea pickers holding tray with three sections. Each section contains a different type of tea and can be seen to be different shades and coarseness. The image was taken from a kneeling position on wide angle focusing of the tea picker. This dynamic composition and depth of field give the feeling of the tray being offered to the viewer with an invitation to look.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f2.8, 80th/s and ISO1600.

This image was taken of a tea picker showing a leaf with the three different elements for different teas. It was shot to show the leaf but also the picker and the expanse of the factory behind her. The shallow depth of field gives a more creative view instead of a ‘snapshot’ of the work area. Lighting was from the windows to the left and helped illuminate the hand whilst giving depth to the image behind.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 at f2.8, 100th/s and ISO1600.

 

Sri Lanka – Tour Recce Day 2

28Apr

This morning started off with a walk to the Pidurangala Rock Monestary. The walk is steep on uneven steps for most of the way then transfers to a climb through rocks with limited clearance to the summit. Once there, one is treated to a peaceful rock plateau overlooking the lush jungle and offers an unrivalled view of Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

The silence is deafening and it would be easy to spend hours sat on the rocks taking in the breathtaking views. Placed on the plateau are several rock piles or ‘Boka’ which are built by visitors and are believed to provide good luck.

The image shows the rock piles with a view to Sigiriya.

It was captured by lying on the ground and selected depth of field to isolate the rock piles with the beautiful view behind. This type of image would not normally be taken in this way by the majority of travellers.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L at f9, 300th/s with very minor adjustments within Adobe Lightroom during processing.

For those who do not make the climb to the summit, there are plenty of photographic delights at the base.

The image here is of elephant tracks which have been left as it has wandered through a rice field. This is something that may be easily missed but was pointed out by a local man who acted as an impromptu guide.

The image has been taken in portrait aspect to give the viewer the chance to see the tracks as they lead away through the field.

Taken with Nikon D4, Nikon, Nikon 24-120mm, at f5, 400th/s. Due to the harsh lighting and reflections on the puddles the exposure was compensated to -0.7 stop.

 

Next stop was a walk through a typical, rural jungle village where a husband and wife team spend their long, hot days making bricks.

The husband gathers the wet mud and puts it into moulds which are then laid out in the sun to dry. Once dried his wife stacks them in large piles where they are heated by fire to set. This is a very hard life and they work tirelessly and in silence. At the time of shooting there was very little demand for the bricks, yet they carry on regardless.

The images were taken whilst the husband worked on moulding the bricks, which is a tough and dirty job.

His wife can be seen in the background stacking while he makes more… a very small but busy production line.

 

 

 

 

 

This was a very privileged opportunity to witness this Sri Lankan life not normally available for many.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L at f3.5, 600th/s and f3.5, 1250th/s respectively. Due to the harsh light, fill in light was used. Rather than flash, the camera was mounted with a Monfrotto Lumimuse lamp.

 

Harabana was the next stop with a wander around a typical Sri Lankan village market. This is not a tourist market and is solely for the locals to trade their crafts, foods and pick up supplies. The stall owners have worked here all their lives. The place is a feast of sights and the photographer could easily spend hours looking at the many characters and goods.

The images were taken to capture the people who live and work here. They are all happy and friendly and more than willing to have their picture taken. The detail in their faces is a story alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image of the woman was taken though the scales she was using on her stall. This was done to show her trade and taken at ground level to capture the eye contact. The man smiles with his mouth open revealing his bright red and damaged tongue caused from decades of tobacco chewing. They are both typical examples of local, rural residents.

Woman – taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L at f3.2, 80th/s, the depth of field was carefully selected to ensure that she was in focus but the scales were not.

 Man – taken with Nikon D4, Nikon, Nikon 24-120mm, at f5.6, 100th/s.

 

Dambulla Cave Temple is a moderate uphill walk on a rocky slope. Here there are 5 caves, 4 natural and one man made dating back to Centuries BC. They house many Buddha statues in all 7 poses of Buddhism. The lighting here is very dark so the shot was a challenge. No tripods are allowed and rather than use flash, the natural light was utilised. This was shot with very shallow depth of field and focused on the eye from lower ground level whilst the image runs up along the arm of a lying Buddha.

Taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L at f2.8, 30th/s ISO 4000. Some noise reduction was required in Adobe Lightroom during processing.

 

All locations for these images form part of tours operated by Plus One Photo Tours where guests are taken to less touristic areas in order to give a true flavour of the country, its culture and way of life and offering the opportunity to capture lasting images which are not normally achievable by the regular holidaymaker.

Sri Lanka – Tour Recce Day 1

26Apr

Every day the local fishermen leave for the sea along the Hamilton Canal, which was built in the 1700’s by the Dutch in order to link Negombo to Colombo. They return from the Indian Ocean to a salt water lagoon where they beach their small multi coloured fishing boats to empty the nets.

The local women help by taking the fish from the nets and loading them into wicker baskets. The catch is then taken to the fish market on the shore to sell to locals and small restaurants. This tradition has been ongoing for many years.

The Negombo lagoon and fish market is rarely visited by holidaymakers and offers a privileged insight into the culture of coastal Sri Lanka.

By the time the fishermen return to empty their catch, the sun is high in the sky and very harsh. Both these images were captured close up with a wide angle lens and a smile, from the more than willing subjects. They show the age of the people who still work tirelessly every day in this manner in order to make a living. Their skin is weathered and sun baked and signs of the decades of hard work can clearly be seen. These portraits with their captivating eye contact perfectly sum up the indigenous people of this area.

 

 

The above images were taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L at f5.6, 1000th/s, 24mm focal length and f4.5 at 2500th/s, 57mm focal length respectively.

 

 

The Negombo fishermen of Sri Lanka return home on their boat from the lagoon along the Hamilton Canal after emptying their nets and selling their catch.

The above image was taken with Canon 7D MK2, Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L at f2.8, 6400th/s, 200mm focal length.

Using f2.8 and full zoom of 200mm it was possible to isolate the oncoming boat from the detail surrounding it. The boat was framed off centre to the right in order to show the canal side and local pedestrians as well as a view behind them. Focal point was selected and switched to the right hand side of the viewfinder with SERVO Focus tracking in operation to lock onto the oncoming boat.

 

A herd of elephants cross the road from a large lake and into the jungle at Wilpattu Game Reserve, Sri Lanka. Due to the lack of small watering holes the herd, in excess of 30 including young elephants, has taken to drinking and cooling off in larger lakes that they would normally avoid. This is the largest herd seen by the game driver and conservationist for years. Two days earlier safari goers were treated to viewing the birth of an elephant by the side of the road. Wilpattu has not long re-opened after being closed for 30 years following violence perpetrated by gun smugglers who used the roads to transport their contraband inland from the ocean. The reserve has more dense bush compared to other safari reserves in Sri Lanka such as Yala.

The above images were taken with Canon 1DX MK2, Sigma 150-600mm ‘s’ from a vehicle with the lens supported on a bean bag at f6.3, 640th/s, 430mm focal length. Due to the harsh afternoon light, exposure compensated by -0.7 stop.

 

Both locations for these images form part of tours operated by Plus One Photo Tours where guests are taken to less touristic areas in order to give a true flavour of the country, it’s culture and way of life, offering the opportunity to capture lasting images which are not normally achievable by the regular holidaymaker.