The Waiting Sea
Talalla Bay, Sri Lanka.

• 24mm • f/2.8 • 1/640 • ISO100 • 600D & EF-S24/2.8• circular polariser •

December 26th 2022 marks eighteen years since the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, when the Indian Ocean rose up and killed over 35,000 Sri Lankans in two massive waves (the second measured as high as 11m, in places). The country suffered the second highest number of deaths in the Indian Ocean (after Indonesia which, being proximate to the epicentre of the underwater quake that caused the tsunami, lost almost 200,000 dead and missing). Over half a million people were displaced in Sri Lanka, as almost 90,000 coastal homes and buildings were destroyed by the waves. Over 250,000 people are estimated to have died in minutes, in fifteen countries, from Southeast Asia to East Africa. In island nations like Sri Lanka, the sea would never be looked at quite the same again.


Monsoon Beach
Weligama Bay, Sri Lanka. May 2022.

• 18mm • f/3.5 • 1/250 • ISO100 •

Hung Up on the Devil’s Doorstep
As the afternoon sky descends across the Ohiya Gap, villagers in Udaweriya struggle with a lorry stuck on what was once the Kalupahana-Ohiya Road. Little more than a track for most of its length, its surface has deteriorated so badly that the RDA has shored up some of the steeper parts with concrete sections, creating what seems like literal steps. These remote hamlets, in the Central Highlands, are some of the highest continuously occupied settlements in Sri Lanka, and depend on battered little lorries like this one to get their farm produce to market. There’s no public transport, and the nearest bus stop or train station is a 10km hike. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines. My photo story, The Devil’s Staircase, ran in the March 2017 issue.

Dark Wood
Pine forest below the Devil’s Staircase, Central Highlands, Sri Lanka. January 2017.

Hunting Salties
We waited til it was light enough to see into the deep shadows under the mangrove canopy before cutting our outboard and stealthily turning into the Bentara River’s dark back alleys. With no engine, my boatman and I hauled our craft forward hand over hand, pulling on the branches overhead, trying to be quiet. It was no use. We were too noisy, and they were too quick. The only sign was a flash of movement among the roots, and a splash as, time after time, monsters longer than our 12-ft boat bellied into the murky water. Eventually, we gave up. This was no place to capsize or run aground. I had to content myself with a photo of a baby salt water crocodile, sunning itself on a root. Wherever his mum and dad were, I couldn’t catch them with my lens. On assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines. My photo story, Eternal Bentota, ran in the November 2016 issue.

Secret Roads
Hidden by layers of dead foliage from the rainforest canopy is a barely discernible path through the gloom. It has been here for over 16,000 years, when the earliest inhabitants of this island first set out through the jungle to find a new home in the foothills of what is now called the Peak Wilderness. At the end of this trail is the Batadombalena, a cave in which Balangoda Man (Homo sapiens balangodensis) lived with his family. Their skeletons were found in 1955. Spear- and arrowheads discovered in the cave in 1981 are the oldest evidence of the use of tools by modern humans outside Africa. Examination of Balangoda Man’s teeth in 2015 revealed a diet exclusive to the rainforest, indicating that man might have colonised the jungle as early as 45,000 years ago, well before the end of the Pleistocene period. The jungle has many secrets. How many more are still to be discovered? Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines. My photo story, ‘The Cave in the Jungle‘ ran in the March 2016 issue.

The Forbidden Forest
The 257-acre Udawatta Kele Forest Reserve is still sometimes referred to by its ancient name, the Thahanci Kele, or ‘forbidden forest’; once a private reserve of the Kandyan royal family, and closed to commoners. Incredibly located within walking distance of the city center, the Udawatta Kele of today provides visitors a chance to walk or cycle along narrow paths through dense highland rain forest. Shot on assignment for Ashraff Associates and The Radh, Kandy, in October 2018.

The Steps to Sathipattana #2

The Bodhinagala Aranya Senasanaya, Sri Lanka #3 -- empty stairs rising through the jungle (b/w).
Modern concrete steps cut through older stone stairs, creating a strangely appropriate puzzle-like quality, rising in flights through the rain forest to the Bodhinagala Aranya Senasanaya where monks still meditate in caves in the hillside. This Buddhist monastery sits deep inside the Dombagaskanda Forest Reserve and Bird Sanctuary, on the banks of the Kalu Ganga (the Black River), just south of Ingiriya, in southwestern Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib, the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines. My photo story, ‘Jungle Streams & Trails in Ingiriya‘, runs in the December 2017 issue.

Monsoon Beach #3

Talalla Bay, Sri Lanka. July 2020.
Talalla Bay, Sri Lanka. July 2020.

Up, Through the Jungle

Up Through the Jungle #2 by Son of the Morning Light on
Stone steps cut through the jungle to an old Buddhist temple on the cliffs above Kosgoda, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Ashraff Associates in December 2019.
Continue reading “Up, Through the Jungle”