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Sri Lanka women, colorful dresses, saris

Thanksgiving 2019 on a Photography Tour and Workshop to Sri Lanka

sri lanka, lunchtime, food, curry traveling,
Lunch time train to Ella

Take my 12 day Photography Tour to Sri Lanka from the 27th November to the 8th December.  A Photography Tour and Workshop to Sri Lanka ticks all the boxes a keen photographer could wish for.  This stunning island in the middle of the Indian ocean offers the greatest diversity of images that anyone could wish for.  Sri Lanka has it all, lush tropical green landscapes, rolling hills covered in tea plantations, friendly people, amazing archaeological sites, colonial towns, wild animals and a dramatic coastline.

Negombo

All you have to do is get to Colombo and I’ll do the rest!  We’ll spend our first afternoon and evening just north of Colombo in Negombo and photograph the fishing boats and beach as the sun sets before going back to the hotel to relax and talk about our trip.

It’s now 6am, the day has just broken and we’re photographing the fishermen coming in with their catch and taking it to the market. Two hours later and I’m pulling you away for breakfast as we are leaving in our air-conditioned mini bus to Anuradaphura.  It’s a 5 hour drive and time to relax and talk.

Anuradhapura

anuradhapura, stupa, temple,
Anuradhapura Stupa

The photography tour is going to visit and photograph the marvellous Buddhist temples and stupas built around the 3rd century AD.  There are usually monks in orange robes and often children on school trips. There are black and white-faced monkeys and brown monkeys everywhere and they too are very photogenic. Our best pictures will be at dusk, people come and offer flowers, it’s very beautiful.


Polannaruwa

Next morning we take off for the second stop in the cultural triangle which is Polonnaruwa. Very different from Anuradaphura, here we photograph wonderful ruins in a jungle setting and a reclining buddha covered in greedy monkeys eating the offerings brought worshippers.  We check into our hotel at Sigiriya, discuss our pictures and take off to try and see some wild elephants before night falls in the nearby wildlife park.

Sigiriya and Dambulla

It’s Saturday so there will be some locals climbing Lion’s rock as well as tourists. Sri Lankans like Indians wear wonderfully colourful saris which look great against the green of the jungle and the starkness of the rock.  In the mid-afternoon we are going to Dambulla cave temple which is one of my favourite places. One of the reasons to go on my photography tour is that I try to get us to places at the best time of day.  Although this isn’t always possible I do know that Dambulla is best visited in the afternoon when the light filters gently into the amazing caves and light up the frescoes.

Kandy

Sigiriya Rock Sri Lanka
Sigiriya Rock

We’re going to Kandy today but first we are going to stop off at Dambulla wholesale market and take some amazing photos.  This market is the centre for the whole island for fruit and vegetables.  It’s very photogenic, the place is heaving with people loading and offloading and traders buying.  Not too long though because there are more pictures to take in Kandy. It’s Sunday and Kandy will be full of local people shopping and visiting.  We will go to Temple of the Tooth and perhaps the Royal Botanical gardens if we’ve time.  The best pictures of the lake will be just before dusk and we don’t want to miss that.

Elephants

Dambulla, frescoes, temple, praying, buddhas
Praying inside Dambulla Cave

As it is early December and not the best time to see animals in the wild and even harder to make good pictures, I am making a change in the usual itinerary and we will go to Pinnawala elephant orphanage and omit Yala National Park.  Each day they take the elephants down to the river for them to bathe and be washed.  It’s quite a spectacular scene watching a herd of elephants walk through the village.  There are great photos to be made and it is an enjoyable trip. It also gives us slightly more time in Kandy which is well worthwhile.

Tea Plantations, Mountains and Nurawaeliya

elephant, portrait of elephant,
Elephant at Pinnawala

Our photography tour is leaving Kandy today for Nuwaraeliya and start to climb the surrounding foothills we are entering a different world.  As the temperature drops we are surrounded by tea plantations, and the colourful dots in the lush greenery are the tea pickers.   We will stop several times on the way and visit at least one tea plantation and photograph the tea pickers and the factory. Then suddenly we’re in England! Nuwaraeliya definitely has something very British about it, the cottages, the cold! We are going to sit in our hotel, order tea of course and enjoy a photography workshop looking and discussing everyone’s photos.

Horton Plains and the train to Ella

Tuk Tuks, transport, driver,
Tuk tuk drivers in Sri Lanka

We are setting off very early this morning to go to Hortons Plains, a landscape photographers paradise.  We’re going on a hike, it will be cold and misty but magical.  There could be an outburst of rain but hopefully we’ll see the sun too, so we will dress appropriately and make sure that our cameras are well protected.  Back to our mini-van that will take us to the Nanu Oya Train station where we will board the lunchtime train to Ella.  This wonderful train journey is great fun, it passes superb scenery and stops at dozens of stations.  There are passengers and hawkers and a real slice of local life to photograph. We disembark at the very picturesque town of Ella where we will spend the night.

Galle and the Sri Lankan coast to Colombo

Ella, tropical scenery, jungle, sri lanka, Greenery
Lush tropical scenery of Ella

Today, we are going to photograph the streets and markets of Galle both inside and outside the fort.  We will also be going 24 kilometres down the coast to photograph the famous stilt fishermen which is an amazing sight when they are all out there standing 2 metres up in a rough sea fishing.  If it’s a sunny day we’ll be there in the late afternoon to make magical photographs against a dramatic sky.

Wednesday morning, a walk to the waterfall and the surrounding countryside and time for a short workshop before setting off for the spectacular coastal city of Galle and it’s famous fort where we will spend 2 nights.   The fort was originally built by the Portuguese before it fell to the Dutch who built many of the buildings that we see today.  The British took it over in the late 18th century.  We will take a walk and photograph life inside the fort which is also famous for its lighthouse and a top venue for weddings.   At dusk there are newly-weds posing on the rocks against the dramatic vibrant colours of sunset. 

Train to Colombo

Fishermen, dusk, sunset, stilt fishermen, sri lanja
Stilt Fisherman near Galle at dusk

Tomorrow we’re going to take the local train to Colombo that rattles along the coast.  I love taking pictures at train stations in Sri Lanka, it’s so full of colour and atmosphere – there are some super photographs to be made.  This is a local train so we won’t have any pre-reserved seats and will mingle with the locals.  The journey takes about 3 hours with stops, so plenty of time to make photos and relax. 

On arrival in Colombo we will check into our hotel before going to the oldest parts of the city, the bustling Pettah and Slave Island where we will get pictures of street life before going back to our hotel for a final photography workshop and dinner.

The photography tour and workshop officially ends today but I will be available to help with tips, editing, an additional walk, whatever anybody would find helpful.   Check out is at midday but our bags can be left in reception.  I hope you’ll join me, Sri Lanka really is a jewel in the Indian Ocean.

Preparing upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sicily in late 2017/18

Photography Tour to Myanmar

Monks playing football in Myanmar

Myanmar, Sicily and Sri Lanka are going to be my focus for upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops.  They are all places that I know really well, are unbelievably photogenic and just spectacular.  I have been to all of them very recently, the latest Myanmar trip was a great success and the next one will be even better!  Sri Lanka and Sicily are new venues and I have pages of notes, tons of photos,  already written blogs on them and am now going back into action! It is a lot of work!  I am a photographer not a tour operator, but I love organizing things, in fact I may have missed my vocation of becoming an events planner… on second thoughts, nah, becoming a photographer is the best and only choice I could ever have made!

First of all, I list all the places I would like to take my photographer travelers to, which may not necessarily be exactly the same ones as the last trip there. I then work out the best route and the best way to get to each place. I love experiencing local transport, especially traveling by train in both Myanmar and Sri Lanka. There are terrific photographs to take both from the train, the platform, and life in the train itself. It is not realistic or particularly fun to take them for hours on end so I plan them carefully. In Myanmar for example we will take 2 local train journeys but on most legs of the journey we will fly, giving us more time in those spectacular places that I have chosen. A journey on a local bus can be fun too but it all has to be organized and worked out. In Sri Lanka we will have a minivan and driver but will still do a couple of train journeys.

We photographers like good light wherever possible.  Certain places really should be seen at sunrise and sunset so wherever it is feasible that option is available. Myanmar offers some exceptional dawn and dusk photography. If someone wants to sleep in, that’s fine, we’ll come back and get you! In Sri Lanka, the sites don’t open until 7.00 am which is one hour after sunrise. Having said that, a good vantage point can usually be found. It is however impossible just to visit places during those few hours of good light. In Sicily and Sri Lanka those perpetual blue skies are not guaranteed either, but still offer terrific photography. Images with umbrellas, misty mornings and colorful clothes all add depth to the portfolio of photos that you will take.

In Asia I work with local travel agents who arrange the transport, provide local guides who are primed on what we are looking for, they will book our tickets and hotels, which we choose very carefully together. I believe in responsible travel, trying to give something back to the local communities where possible. I favor comfortable air-conditioned hotels with all amenities but usually locally owned and not too far from the sites we have come to see. I do not exclude a night in a ‘home stay or monastery, for the experience. In Sicily there are some superb bed and breakfasts that I often favor over hotels. Many telephone conversations and e mails later, things crossed out and others added they will be ready for publication on www.annasphototraveltours.com.

The difference between a regular tour or going on your own and a photography tour or workshop is that in addition to visiting the best places at the best times in a small group of similar minded people, you can learn endless tips on how to take better pictures and make them look how you want them to.   I am available the whole time to coach, help, talk and encourage you.  There will be some work to do, but the whole idea is that it is totally enjoyable whilst being instructive and constructive.  This tour can be a complete learning experience whilst traveling or can just be a fun and easy way to obtain better pictures than you could ever imagine.

Taking a Photography Tour to Sri Lanka with me

photography tour to sri lanka

Anuradhapura

It is winter and time to start dreaming of the summer, where to go and what kind of a vacation to choose. Why not something different like a photography tour in Sri Lanka? Europe is a popular option for the summer but so crowded, and if you are interested in photography you will be confronted with loads of tourists trying to take the same happy snaps which will make it very difficult to take some original pictures without unwanted people in them.

Sri Lanka is a great option for several reasons. Firstly, it is a stunning island offering a diversity that is rare. It’s history and mixture of different religions and ethnicities mean that there are monuments and relics of extraordinary beauty and diversity. There are rolling hills covered in tea plantations, national parks and mountains covered with extraordinary fauna and wildlife. Whilst it rains in one part of Sri Lanka, the sun shines on the other.

Photography tour to sri lanka

Stupa at Polonnaruwa

For a photographer the scope is endless. I already wrote 3 blogs on my last trip there, last March. I meant to organise this workshop earlier but I never got round to it. For a keen landscape photographer you will be hard put to find so many different landscape and seascape possibilities in one small country. Those landscapes can be taken alone or peppered with local people, monks, fisherman, school children, tea pickers etc.   Dawn and dusk are stupendous, and the mountains in August make for misty scenes with leaves weighed down by rain, which can make for superb photographs in strong contrast to the rest of the country.

The Sri Lankan people are charming and friendly so those more interested in street photography and portraits will find it easy to capture the local population, after asking them first of course. What I found so interesting was that everywhere I went I found that the majority of tourists were from India and Sri Lanka, enchanted like us with all they saw and eager to be photographed.

Photography tour to sri lanka

Street in Galle.

I am working on the itinerary for the Photography Tour now. For comfort and ease of photography we will travel across the country by air-conditioned minivan with an experienced driver. We will visit the ancient sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla. We will visit the National Park of Minneriya to photograph the elephants. We will go to Kandy, then up in the hills to the tea plantations and visit Nuwara Eliya. From there we will take a fantastic train ride through the mountains to Ella before continuing our journey south by minivan to  Yala National Park and the beautiful picturesque town of Galle. From Galle we will make our way back to Colombo by train, allowing for more incredible photographs before terminating the tour in Colombo.

I will be giving photo instruction throughout and each participant will have a particular project to work on. The itinerary will be quite intense as the idea is for us to be in the right place at the right time for the light as often as possible, but I do realise that it is a holiday so it will be fun and there will be time to relax and unwind.  We will also stay in comfortable hotels.

For years due to the civil war that tore the country apart, tourists ceased to visit Sri Lanka, but now it is blossoming again and is still unspoilt enough to enjoy. Take a few days before or after the photography tour and lie on a deserted beach, take another safari or visit other places not on the agenda such as Jaffna in the north.   It is an enchanting island and a spectacular destination for the photographer.

Anyone who may be interested in this upcoming tour can contact me immediately on info@annasphototraveltours.com and I will be happy to discuss this with you.