So, my favourite form of transport in Sri Lanka has to be the train. Not just there, to be honest, anywhere. I love train rides. To me they are the most romantic form of transport. I love this slow, languid type of travel, it has this quality that you just don’t get with aeroplanes or cars, it’s almost like stepping into a book. I love how you get to see the world rushing by, people going about their daily business, all whilst in a chair with a good read, perhaps some music on your mp3 or some good company. And whilst I did read a lot on those long and slow journeys, I also met some interesting and very friendly Sri Lankans. I met a head nun on the way back from Kandy and we shared biscuits and impressions of Germany and on my journey to Jaffna, I sat with some university students who helped me try local snacks being sold by street food vendors on the train. Lovely times!
Anyway, as well as the trains there were also plenty of bicycles and even a boat or two I got to travel by. By the way, the guys holding umbrellas on the boat are not doing so because of freak rainstorms, they’re doing it to protect themselves from the scorching sun. It’s really strong out there on the ocean! There were plenty of cars, buses, mopeds and tuk tuks too, but they seemed a little too mundane to take pictures of. I even got to drive a tuk tuk! But that’s probably more than enough of my transport related stories…
I edited these pictures using black and white split tone effect. I know that I have experimented with this before, but never using the raw image processing feature in photoshop. I have been using this more and more as there is just so much more detail and nuance in raw images. After all the regular work I do for raw images, I carefully selected the greyscale mix, adding colour hues for the shadows and highlights, some selective brush work to draw focus to particular areas in the images and then finally cropping. To add even more depth I then played with the levels and in some even did a little stamp/corrective work.
Sri Lanka is an incredibly biodiverse island. It’s now become famous for the waters which surround it, which are home to whales, turtles, dolphins… just to name a few! But above land is biologically rich too! Here are some friends I made 🙂
I saw this guy everywhere. I mean, not this particular guy but his species, the crow, everywhere. It was unexpected to be honest, crows not being top of my list of expectations for tropical islands. I was thinking maybe parrots, birds of paradise, birds with colours. But there they are. And in what numbers! This little guy was hanging out by the fish market in Point Pedro, waiting for left overs.
Second most common must have been these monkeys. The toque macaque is everywhere on this island! Cheeky guys too and not just a little scary when they bare their teeth. These guys I found hanging around in Dambulla, a very sacred spot in Sri Lanka. There are over 150 Buddha statues spread out in 5 different caves, which date back to the first century BC. Not sure the monkeys are there to venerate him though.
Like many other countries, Sri Lanka has a lot of stray dogs. This little flea ridden pup I found on my way to Delft island, the island seemingly made of coral. We quickly became friends, he was just too adorable and so playful. I definitely would have taken him home if I could… but then, I would have taken home a lot of pets by now if airplane regulations were more relaxed. Perhaps it’s a good thing they aren’t. I hope you’re doing ok, little dude.
These grey langurs are not as common as the toque macaques, but there are still plenty about. These guys were running amok in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s capital from the 4th century BC to the 11th century AD. If you ever get the chance to go, I can’t recommend it enough. The ruins are huge, I cycled around them all day feeling like a female Indiana Jones with an SLR. I particularly loved the northern area, where the road gives way to jungle and you can get completely lost in among the old buildings, pools and local wildlife. Do stay away from the monkeys though, they bite 😉
Last, but by no means least were the elephants. Elephants have been part of Sri Lanka since time began, they are native to the island and an important part of customs and traditions here. They aren’t so common in populated areas, in fact, to see these guys I did a safari near Polonnaruwa in Kaudulla national park. Whilst I also saw storks, eagles, wild peacocks, monkeys, water buffalo and many others, these guys stole the show. I mean, just look at those schnozzles!
Lastly, I did of course edit all of these pictures when I got home. I processed the RAW files, opening up shadows, determining the warmth I wanted in the pictures, white balance, etc. Then I added gradients and subtle vignetting. Though the editing was relatively similar for each image, as the light conditions and settings varied a lot when I was taking the pictures, the end effects are quite different.
Whilst in Wadi Rum, not only did I sleep out under the open sky, under such an amazingly clear night sky I lost track of the amount of shooting stars I saw, but I also met some fantastic characters.
My heartfelt thanks go to Mohammed, our Bedouin guide and friend, who never failed to remind us to “think of the future”. In his company and rather rambunctiously transported by his old jeep, we explored this vast red desert. We were also lucky enough to share tea and stories with his friends and meet fellow local visitors, happy to spend a few hours in this beautiful place.
It is quite wonderful to see that the desert is still treasured today, by such a broad range of people. That said though, it is sad that the traditional way of life is dying out among Bedouins. It is easy to understand, the modern world offers many more lucrative and glamorous careers than goat herding, not to mention that nomadic lifestyles dwindle wherever capitalism and western values take root. However, perhaps there is some way to combine the best of both worlds. We can ever hope.
I was in Jordan recently and spent a wonderful night in the desert, telling stories and singing songs with bedouins. The desert is called Wadi Rum, which interestingly enough, is also where Lawrence of Arabia lived. If you ever go to Jordan, make sure you visit. It was such an amazing evening!
In terms of image editing, I wanted to keep these pictures quite simple. I wanted the eye to be drawn to the important features in the picture instead of being distracted by details. So I spent most of my time cutting out extraneous details and trying to clarify the story I wanted to tell.
The first of May is always chaos in Berlin. Police get flown in from all parts of Germany to try and control it, but historically this has only ever antagonised this city of wild children. The punks and rebels dressed in black provoke the police, bottles get thrown, police get heavy, the party kids hang just out of the way of the wandering demonstrations, all the while playing music and drinking from make shift drink stands which pop up on every corner. And who can blame them, it is a really fun day as long as you stay out of trouble (or not… if that’s what you’re into) and the weather was beautiful.
As I live in the centre of Kreuzberg, the beating heart of mayhem, it was important for me to get back home before dark. Normally, I don’t have a curfew, especially not one that begins with nightfall. But on this day it’s important as the demonstrators will battle wills, as they do every year, against the police and if I get caught on the wrong side of that picket line chances are strong that I will either get pepper sprayed in the face or I won’t be able to get home. That point was driven home for me as after I got home I looked out of my window to see a battle line of police and furiously barking dogs, refusing to let anyone pass down my street.