Son of the Morning Light

Cleaning the Front Yard -- Weligama Bay, Sri Lanka

Like most people, I have always been certain there was a place somewhere on this planet that could provide the necessary respite from all reminders of present-day chaos and noise, a place to which one could escape and, having escaped, shut the figurative door, there to breathe pure air and hear only the sounds provided by natural forces. So it was with tremulous excitement that I first saw the little island of Taprobane, in Weligama Bay off the south coast of Sri Lanka. Here was a site that seemed to have all the requisite qualities: It was scarcely more than a hummock of black basalt rising above the waves of the Indian Ocean, yet was heavily covered with high trees that left visible only a glimpse of the house at its summit. I had never seen a place that looked so obviously like what I was searching for. And I felt that it was aware of me, that it silently beckoned, sending forth a wordless message that meant: Come. You’ll like it here. Three years later, I signed the necessary documents and became the owner of this tiny parcel of paradise. The erstwhile proprietor, a rubber planter named Mr. Jinadasa, also bred racehorses and bet on them. When a horse in which he has great confidence failed to justify his hopes, he found himself in immediate need of cash. My informant in Sri Lanka wired me in Madrid, and as soon as the news arrived I rushed out to cable the money. I inherited a couple who were resident gardener and maid, and who continued their work as if they were still in the employ of Mr. Jinadasa. In aspects they had worked for several owners, scarcely knowing them apart, and were aware only that their employer must be addressed as Master. The island had belonged to various people in the recent past, and none of them had kept in very long. It was a pleasure dome, a place they used for weekend parties. The only person who had actually lived there was the Comte de Mauny Talvande, who had built the house and furnished it after reclaiming the island from its former status as the local cobra-dump. (All cobras found in the region were put into sacks, carried across to the island and left there, since in Sri Lanka one doesn’t kill snakes). In order to settle in, I needed to buy only new mattresses for the beds, and lamps and kitchenware. The furniture, made of the heaviest kinds of tropical wood, was well-nigh immovable. Finding a good cook was the greatest initial challenge, but eventually, in the nearby town of Matara, I unearthed a man who had been chef in a hotel. At the same time I discovered that no cook would work without an assistant, so I was obliged to take on two men. The cook cooked; the extra man served at table and washed dishes. Indeed, each employee in the house had a very precise idea of what his work involved, and it was impossible to get any of them to perform an act he considered to be outside his domain. The maid polished the furniture and filled bowls with orchids. The gardener fetched things from the market in the village on the mainland. Another man, a Hindu came twice a day to empty the latrines, as there was no running water on the island. Life moved like clockwork; there were no complications. For me, much of the joy of living on Taprobane had to do with lying in bed at night listening to the sound of the big waves booming against the cliffs below, and the more distant, subdued sound of the same waves breaking on the sand along the great curved beach. I couldn’t conceive of a greater luxury then, nor can I now. The subsidiary luxuries consisted of early tea along with an assortment of fruit (served in bed), a real English breakfast at nine and, at midday, a curry the like of which I’ve not eaten elsewhere. The cook provided twenty side dishes for each meal (including marunga leaves which, sprinkled over coconut cream, gave the food an irresistible flavor). At night the men would go down to the rocks and catch enough lobsters for the next day’s curry. When the lobsters were too few, we made do with spearfish, the local equivalent of pompano, and equally delectable. Only once was this tranquil existence significantly disrupted: What happened was that the government of Sri Lanka came to an agreement with Peking whereby China would receive the totality of Sri Lanka’s rubber crop in return for specified quantities of China’s rice. The rice arrived, but it had been lying in damp warehouses for so long that it was rancid. When one tried to cook it, it gave off an unbelievably powerful stench; it was inedible. All the Sinhalese were complaining, but there was no help for it. The only solution was to comb the shops in all towns along the coast for boxes of English rice and hoard them and, when the shops were empty, which they soon were, to go more than a hundred miles to Colombo and bring back all one could find. Only thanks to such efforts did the curry continue to be as good as ever. For the most part, however, life on Taprobane was trouble-free: The ocean was languorously warm, and the sharks left alone. You could see them a few hundred feet away as they patrolled the reef, but they never ventured inside. Occasionally a gigantic tortoise that lived among the rocks on the southwest side of the island would rise to the surface and remain there, a floating boulder. If one swam toward it, it quickly submerged. “Old,” Benedict the gardener told me one day, indicating its domed back. The catamarans bearing fishermen streamed past the island before sunrise and returned en masse at sunset, oars and sail giving them speed. And just as regularly, each daybreak flocks of crows arrived to chase away the hordes of bats that spent each night hanging from the trees outside the windows. The bats were surprisingly big, often with a wingspread of three feet. Their bodies were covered with dark, russet-colored hair and their teeth looked very sharp when you flashed a light into a tree and saw them hanging above you. They were fruit eating animals and entirely innocuous, even with respect to the vegetation; the big trees on the mainland where they gathered in day time were burned white by their dung, and nothing grew in the immediate vicinity, but for some reason they did not excrete at night. It was the crows that saved my trees. They came in great numbers at dawn for no purpose that I could discern other than to drive away the bats. Once they had done that and remarked about it with each other for a while, they flew back to the mainland. But the bats never returned until dark. The central room of the house was 30 feet high, with a cupola at the top that let the wind blow in from all sides, so that even though the air was hot there was always a breeze moving through the room. The voluptuous breeze and the sounds of the sea made an after-lunch siestas inevitable. I missed two or three hours of the afternoon, but how fine it was when the cook’s assistant arrived from behind the curtains at five o’clock saying, “tea, Master,” and put the tray down on the bed, and I drank the tea still listening to the pounding waves. Then it was time for a late afternoon dip in the sea, when Benedict would return with provisions from the village along with two men who waded through the waves carrying tanks of water on their heads. Benedict did not like to be out after dark. Although he claimed to be a Catholic, he shared some of the superstitious of the uneducated Buddhist coastal population. He was particularly afraid of meeting a black dog on the road. According to him, all black dogs were evil spirits and should be avoided. I knew that the island had been cleared of snakes several decades earlier, and I had never seen a sign of the presence of venomous spiders or scorpions. Nevertheless, one evening the cook on his way to the kitchen stepped barefoot on a large centipede. He cried out, dropped the tray he was carrying and fell to the floor unconscious. Benedict, having been called from below, came with a “cobra stone,” made an incision in the foot and rubbed the stone over it for some minutes. When the cook had revived, I asked to see the stone, but Benedict did not want me to touch it. In his hand it looked something like a sponge, light and porous. This miniature drama became in retrospect a major event, so uneventful was the passage of the days and weeks. Time moved swiftly, imperceptively, on the island. Had it not been for two things, unrelated but equally important, I could have prolonged my sojourn there indefinitely. The first was that at the end of June the southwest monsoons arrived, so that during the high seas of the summer months Taprobane was uninhabitable. The other was the Sri Lankan law required every foreigner who remained in the country six months or more to pay a high tax on his global income. Since I generally went to Taprobane around Christmas, I had to arrange my return to Europe for mid-June. Taprobane was not a permanent escape, then, but for half of each year it was idyllic. Of course, no idyll is without its irony: When I finally did sell the island, the proceeds were impounded by the Finance Control of Sri Lanka, so that I have never seen any of my money. One can’t always win—but one can always remember. -- Paul Bowles, author of "The Spider House"

Jade, off Challativu Island, Sri Lanka

My third cover of 2016, for "Serendib", the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. Here, I've laid the cover over the original photograph.

Face #21

My father, on my birthday. Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The Souvenir Seller #1

Unawatuna Beach, Sri Lanka.

Halloween in Colombo #3

Alwis Place, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Play Stops for Tea

A small child runs home with his cricket bat. Galle Fort, Sri Lanka.

The Bristol Building

One of downtown Colombo's oldest landmarks, the Bristol has housed many small offices and businesses throughout the history of what was once Ceylon and is now Sri Lanka. Beyond it, on York Street, is the Grand Oriental Hotel and the harbour.

Towers

Royal Park Apartments in Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka, shot from a full kilometer away in Narahenpita with a Opteka 500mm manual focus lens with no image stabilisation, shot hand-held by stopping down a bit, upping the ISO and using a fast shutter speed.

A Bell and a Mountain

Batatotalena, close to Adam's Peak, is said to be one of the sixteen "solosmasthana", the places in Sri Lanka inexorably linked to the Buddha. While the other fifteen have been identified, the site of the Divaguhawa or Daylight Cave, where the Buddha rested after his descent from Adam's peak, remains in doubt, though Batatotalena is believed to be the place. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

The Buddha's Final View of Adam's Peak

Adam's Peak on the horizon, with the flat-topped Kunudiyaparvathaya next to it. Shot during the climb to the Batatotalena cave temple, said to be the last of the sixteen "solosmasthana"; sixteen places in Sri Lanka linked to the Buddha. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

The Moselle at Zell

The Moselle where it divides the Eifel and Hunsrück mountain ranges. Zell, Germany.

Hunting Lodge

Hunsruck Mountains, Germany, in spring.

Portrait of a Rice Farmer, Welioya, Sri Lanka

This was shot for my article "Heirlooms Unforgotten: the Heritage Rice of Sri Lanka", which appeared in "Serendib", the inflight magazine of Sri Lankan Airlines.

Flute Player, Ambepussa, Sri Lanka

Last Details

Last-minute adjustments to the wedding sari of a Sri Lankan bride before she leaves home for the ceremony.

Down went an Elephant

Lake Maota from the Amer Fort, Rajastan, India.

Highland Fire

Tea-covered mountains in Bogawantalawa, Sri Lanka

The Edge of Heaven

More than anywhere else in Sri Lanka, on the Jaffna Peninsula, the sky seems to dominate everything as soon as you step out of the city or town, flattening all else down to a mere frame for its vastness. During the thirty-year civil war that ended in 2009, the now defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam only ever controlled portions of the land and sea. The sky was ruled by the gunships and jets of the Sri Lanka Air Force, making the it as threatening for the inhabitants of Jaffna as Damocles' Sword. Now, all one has to worry about is the burning sun. Nainativu Island, off the coast of Jaffna.

Waiting for His Office to Arrive

A Sri Lanka Railways train guard awaits the arrival of the morning train to begin the first shift of a gloomy Saturday morning. Maradana Railway Station, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Man and God

A frail old man, unable to climb the stairs at the entrance to the Samangodu Sri Kathiraveluyutha Swami Hindu Kovil in Pettah, leaves his slippers on the street and shuffles past to a side entrance in the hope of gaining access and conducting his evening worship.

Caged

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Life Without Parole

A female chimpanzee in the Dehiwela Zoo outside Sri Lanka's commercial capital, Colombo. Once one of the best zoos in Asia, the Dehiwela zoo is now nothing more than a prison for animals with terrible conditions. Animal numbers have dwindled in recent years from official neglect that often verges on the criminal. Many animals are malnourished and close to starvation, with food rations being stolen by the keepers entrusted with looking after the creatures. They are also constantly tormented by visitors who are not supervised by zoo authorities. Animal rights activists in Sri Lanka are now petitioning the government to close down the zoo.

Ratheesh

The Randoli Sports Club, Fife Road, Colombo

Gram Seller

Galle Face Green, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Ritigala Ruins #7

The Ritigala Ruins are the remains of a reservoir, a Buddhist monastery, and a hospital, built between the 4th century BC, and the 9th century AD, linked by an elegant walkway that climbs through the jungle-covered flanks of Ritigala Mountain, the highest point in northern Sri Lanka.

Ritigala Ruins #3

The Ritigala Ruins are the remains of a reservoir, a Buddhist monastery, and a hospital, built between the 4th century BC, and the 9th century AD, linked by an elegant walkway that climbs through the jungle-covered flanks of Ritigala Mountain, the highest point in northern Sri Lanka

Jungle Stream, Sri Lanka

Rain forest below Batadombalena, a cave close to Kuruwita, in the foothills of Sri Lanka's Sabaragamuwa mountains, where remains of a prehistoric Balangoda Man was found. this was shot as part of my article "The Cave in the Jungle: Visiting Batadombalena, the Home of Balangoda Man", in the march 2016 issue of "Serendib", Sri Lankan Airlines' inflight magazine, which you can see at: http://serendib.btoptions.lk/article.php?issue=75&id=1780

Moored on the Moselle

Zell, Germany

Seclusion

A small hotel, deep in the wetlands of Waikkal, on the west coast of Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magzine.

Anglers, Waikkal, Sri Lanka

Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine.

Morning Gathering

Farmers discuss their crops at harvest time, Ahetugaswewa, Welioya, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Dawn Over the Paddy Fields, Vavuniya, Sri Lanka

Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine

Passikudah Dawn

Passikudah, on the east coast of Sri Lanka

Walking the Ramparts #7

Morning over a section of rampart connecting the Triton and Vlagklip Bastions of the 17th Century Dutch fort of Galle, Sri Lanka. On the left is the old town inside the walls of the fort. The Vlagklip Bastion (also known by its later English name, Flagrock) in the distance is the southernmost point of Fort Galle and, beyond it, the Indian Ocean stretches 8,000km, almost unbroken, to the Antarctic.

A Morning Walk, Waikkal, Sri Lanka

Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine, on the western coast of Sri Lanka

Drops of Desire (b/w)

Sri Lanka

The Woman in the Pink Hat #7

Dehiwela Beach, Sri Lanka

Little Boy in the Central Highlands, Sri Lanka (b/w)

Bogawantalawa, Sri Lanka

Face #48

Bolgoda Lake, Sri Lanka

Quarter Pounder #4

Shot on assignment for the Big Bad Wolf, Sri Lanka

Bacon & Egg Baozi

Shot on assignment for the Big Bad Wolf, Sri Lanka

Hairy Red Balls #2

A big bowl of rambutan, a sweet fruit quite similar to lychees. Sri Lanka.

The Race Course, Colombo

The Colombo Race Course was completed by the British in 1893, and was temporarily used as an airstrip during WWII for Hurricane fighters and Bleinheim bombers. Horse racing ceased in the 1950s, and the complex was taken over by the Sri Lankan government. During the civil war, it was used as a garrison by the Army Pioneer Corps, and to house new recruits prior to basic training. The Race Course was reopened in 2012 as a mall with several restaurants. While the original structure with its ancient iron girders has been retained, much has been refurbished, including the wood panelling in the roof.

Alfa Romeo Giulia GT Junior

Italian Car Show in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Pink Cadillac

Classic car show, Colombo, Sri Lanka

St Anthony's, Wahakotte #5

Prayer meeting in the southeastern wing of St Anthony's, Wahakotte. Shot on assignment for Serendib Magazine

Serendib Cover Shot

Made it to the cover of Serendib this month with my photo-essay on the Galle Fort, "Climbing the Walls".

A Moment's Respite

A fish monger at the Colpetty Market in Colombo takes a break from the Saturday morning rush to catch up on current affairs.

Be a Hero

Young poultry butcher at the Colpetty Market, Sri Lanka.

Hyperactivity

Grandfather and grandson, Dutch Burgher Union, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Red

A Buddhist monk meditatively circles the ruined stupa of the Nagadeepa Temple, close to Uraniya, in Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine.

Girl in Red

Thalawathugoda, Sri Lanka.

Here I Am (Crucify Me)

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Police Watch

Police protection for an anti-racism protest march in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Face #36

Germany

Face #38

Germany

Face #27

Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

Sun on Water

Victoria Reservoir, Central Highlands, Sri Lanka

Face #33

Colombo, Sri Lanka

Does She get the Day Off?

8th March is International Women's Day. In Sri Lanka, a tea plucker takes a water break in the hot afternoon sun of the Central Highlands. Plantation workers like this woman were originally brought in from South India by the British colonial administration to work in near slavery to produce some of the world's most famous tea brands. After decades of statelessness in independent Sri Lanka, they were finally granted citizenship, but still live almost as they did for centuries, in poverty, picking tea for a daily wage.

By the Window #2

Negombo, Sri Lanka

The Girl in the Mirror

Bogawantalawa, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

The Ruwanwelisaya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Built by King Dutugemunu, the Ruwanwelisaya was completed shortly after his death in 137 BC. The central stupa was one of the tallest monuments of the ancient world, standing at 103m; taller than the Taj Mahal, and more than twice the height of the Colosseum. At the time of its original construction it was probably half that height, but was added to by successive kings. Its circumference is 290m.

Chore of Devotion

A devotee sweeps the base of the Ruwanwelisaya stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The base of the stupa is 290m in circumference.

St Anthony's Church, Wahakotte, Sri Lanka #2

St Anthony's, Wahakotte, in the morning sun. Shot on assignment for Serendib Magazine.

Fish Monger in the Colpetty Market, Colombo #2

Bedtime Story

Simmern, Germany

Late Morning Prayer

A lone Muslim prays on a Friday morning in the Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid on 2nd Cross Street, in the old Colombo area of Pettah. Designed by Saibo Lebbe in the Indo-Saracenic style, and built in 1908, the mosque has been an enduring landmark of the city. Each of the four main pillars is hewn from a complete teak tree brought to Colombo from Puttalam.

The Galle Fort Meeran Jumma Masjid at Dusk

Can You Hear it? #2

Morning meditation on Dehiwela Beach, just outside Colombo City, Sri Lanka

Young Guitarist #2

Simmern, Germany

Koblenz Street Music Festival

Germany

Romance on the Moselle

A walk along the Moselle promenade in Koblenz, east of Deutsches Eck, where the Mosel meets the Rhein. In the distance is the 14th century Balduinbrücke.

Head Shot

Yam hawk moth (Theretra nessus), Sri Lanka

The Rodeo Pub, Negombo, Sri Lanka #2

Negombo Lagoon at Dusk

Fishing boats moored at dusk in the Negombo Lagoon, close to Munnakkara, Sri Lanka

The Victoria in the Afternoon #4

The Victoria Dam and Reservoir, as seen from Digana, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. On the far side of the valley is the Rantambe Reserve. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine.

Watergate

The sluice gates of the Rantembe Dam, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. The dam was completed in 1990, one of three such on the upper Mahaweli River. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine.

Morning Over the Victoria

The Victoria Reservoir, Central Highlands, Sri Lanka

The Great Mirror

The Nagadeepa Maha Weva, or Great Nagadeepa Reservoir, was built in 1968 to irrigate areas south of Mahiyanganaya. Shot in eastern Sri Lanka on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine:

Last Light at Habarana, Sri Lanka

Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine

Drummer, Alawala, Sri Lanka #2

A drummaker and drummer tests a freshly made "dawula", a traditional Sri Lankan drum made of coconut wood and animal hide. Behind him stands a "geta bera", and the unfinished bodies of several "tablas". Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine, in Alawala, Sri Lanka.

Pork Chops #5

Shot on assignment for the Big Bad Wolf, Sri Lanka

Homemade Pizza

Ham, corn, and paprika pizza

A Little Salty

A Young saltwater or estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), Bentara River, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for "Serendib", the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines.

Sundown on Ventura Beach, Bentota, Sri Lanka

Shot on assignment for "Serendib", the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines.

Morning on the Ramparts #5

A panoramic view of Galle Bay and the harbour beyond, from the Moon Bastion, the Galle Fort's largest strongpoint. In the foreground, the northern ramparts lead to the Sun Bastion in the distance.

Colombo Port in the Morning

The Colombo Port, shot from the Harbour Room of the Grand Oriental Hotel, Sri Lanka.

Twin Churches #4

The Romanesque Cathedral of St Peter, on the left, is literally a conjoined twin of the Liebfraukirche, or Church of Our Lady, on the right, both built in the mid-11th century. The cathedral, known locally as the Trier Dom, houses the Seamless Robe of Jesus, a garment believed to have been worn by Christ at his crucifixion. The Church of Our Lady, along with the Magdeburg Cathedral, is the oldest Gothic church in Germany.

Interior of the Aula Palatina

The Aula Palatina, in Trier, Germany, was built at the beginning of the 4th century as a palace for the Emperor Constantine and is, in fact, also known as the Basilica of Constantine. The Aula Palatina became a Protestant church in 1856, and today houses the Church of the Redeemer. In 1944, the Basilica was burned in an Allied air raid, and much of the 19th century interior destroyed. These were not reconstructed when the building was repaired after the war, leaving the interior in raw brick, like the exterior, and giving the Protestant church an austerity that is in stark contrast to the exquisite detailing of the nearby Roman Catholic Liebfraukirche and the Cathedral of St Peter.

Bubbles

Trier, Germany

Farm House in the Eifel Mountains, Germany

Beach Boy, Mt Lavinia Beach, Sri Lanka

Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine

Windmills in the Afternoon Sun

Shot from Salzkopf, the second highest point in the Hunsrück Mountains, Germany.

Rami and Pepper

Rami is a refugee from Syria. He is alone in Germany, his family unable to escape with him. Rami doesn't speak much German, and no English at all. He doesn't smile much, and when he does it's mostly with his eyes. The first time I saw that was when Rami met Pepper on a horse farm in the Hunsrück Mountains. He seems to know horses, and Pepper seems to know that. If Rami has found any happiness in Germany, the only sign of it is on this farm. And in his eyes.

Capsicum

Afternoon in the Belihul Oya Valley, Sri Lanka #2

Dense rainforest cloaks the side of the Belihul Oya Valley in Sri Lanka, with Devatagala Mountain in the distance. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

World's End Lodge, Sri Lanka #1

A view of the Ohiya Gap from the World's End Lodge. Central Highlands, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Restoring Nature #2

Reforestation being carried out on a mountainside in Belihuloya, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has lost huge areas of jungle and forest to the plantation and timber industries over the last two centuries, and the government has initiated a programme to restore it. Many areas in the Central Highlands are being removed of environmentally harmful pine trees that were introduced in the 19th century; replacing them with endemic trees which will encourage the return of undergrowth.

Face #121

A cinnamon industry entrepreneur poses with peeled cinnamon saplings. Katuwana, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Verge International.

Ribs #9

Pork spare ribs shot on assignment for the Big Bad Wolf, Colombo

Colombo National Museum, Sri Lanka #4

Hall 12, housing the Arts & Crafts section, is in one of the oldest portions of the Colombo National Museum, built in 1876. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Colombo National Museum #16

Designed by WG Smithers and constructed by Wapchie Marikar, the Colombo National Museum opened to the public in 1877. Since then, the building has more than quadrupled in size, with new wings being added in the first quarter of the 20th century. The grounds remain a green haven in the city, with the Natural History section now having its own museum at the far end of the open space. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Brutal Beauty

Shot on assignment at Kalpitiya, on the western coast of Sri Lanka, for Serendib magazine.

Kiteboarder, Kalpitiya Lagoon #25

Shot on assignment at Kalpitiya, on the western coast of Sri Lanka, for my story "Wind Riders", in the September 2017 issue of "Serendib", the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines.

Kiteboarding Instructor, Kalpitiya Lagoon #2

Laia, shot on assignment at Kalpitiya, on the western coast of Sri Lanka, for my story "Wind Riders", in the September 2017 issue of "Serendib", the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines.

Kite Surfer, Donkey Point #11

Shot on assignment at Kalpitiya, on the western coast of Sri Lanka, for my story "Wind Riders", in the September 2017 issue of "Serendib", the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines.

Kitesurfer, Donkey Point #2

Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine, at Kalpitiya, on the west coast of Sri Lanka

The 1st Hour Project #38

Shot for a study of urban Sri Lankan families during the first hour of their day, from waking to departing home for school and work. Gampaha, Sri Lanka.

The First Hour Project #23

Children pray in front of a household shrine in Galle. Shot for a study of urban Sri Lankan families during the first hour of their day, from waking to departing home for school and work.

Generations

Kalubowila, Sri Lanka

Ripples from Africa

Shot on location in Waikkal, on the western coast of Sri Lanka, for Explore Sri Lanka magazine.

Serendib Cover July 2017

My second cover for 2017, this time with my feature, "The Last Royal Weavers", about the traditional weavers of the Dumbaragama Valley in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka.

The Dumbaragama Valley, Sri Lanka

Terraced paddy fields in the wild and beautiful Dumbaragama Valley, east of Kandy, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. The valley is home to Sri Lanka's famous Dumbara Weavers. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Drought in the Highlands #4

The Victoria Reservoir, shot from the Teldeniya Resthouse. In spite of the heavy rains that have brought floods and landslides in southern Sri Lanka, other parts remain dry. All of the land in the foreground should be underwater, and the reservoir's surface should be as high as the treeline on the far bank. Sri Lanka is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years.

Riverstone Hill, Sri Lanka

Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine.

Pedestrian Walkway

The Maradana Railway Station, Colombo's second-oldest operational railway station. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Getting Off Work

A Sri Lanka Railways officer heads home after a shift. Maradana Railway Station, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

The City of Light

Nuwara Eliya means "city of light" in Sinhalese, and the name existed long before the modern city was founded by the British in the late 19th century, hinting at an older forgotten history. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Evening Over Nuwara Eliya & Lake Gregory #8

Nuwara Eliya means "city of light" in Sinhalese, and the name existed long before the modern city was founded by the British in the late 19th century, hinting at an older forgotten history. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Early Evening Over Nuwara Eliya & Lake Gregory

Shot for Serendib magazine, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka

Father-to-Be

A young seminarian and his brothers at their morning lectures. In his year at Mt Eden, he will be regularly evaluated on his suitability for the priesthood. The Daham Sevana Intermediary Seminary, Mt Eden, Kalutara, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Abandoned Tea Factory on the Devil's Staircase

Udaweriya, on the Devil's Staircase, Central Highlands, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

The Devil's Staircase

A 4x4 truck on the Devil's Staircase, a spectacular mountain trail that was once the Kalupahana-Ohiya Road, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for "Serendib", the inflight magazine of SriLankan Airlines. My story, "The Devil's Staircase", runs in the March 2017 issue.

Face #86

Udaweriya, on the Devil's Staircase, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Kuragala #2

The Kuragala Escarpment with, beyond it, the Udawalawe Basin. Kuragala is home to the ruins of a 2nd century BC Buddhist monastery and a more recent Sufi Muslim shrine. Central Highlands, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Down in the Mine #3

A moonstone miner waits for a bucket to be lowered to him in Meetiyagoda, Sri Lanka. A miner descends into a moonstone mine in Meetiyagoda, Sri Lanka. The little town is the world's largest supplier of rare blue moonstones. Shot on assignment for Explore Sri Lanka magazine.

Evening Over the Beragala Pass, Sri Lanka #4

The Abhayagiriya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka #2

The huge desolate courtyard of the Abhayagiriya. Almost 75m tall, it was built by King Valagamba in 103 BC on the site of a destroyed Jain monastery. Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Living Frieze #3

Devotees wrap a 300m bolt of saffron-coloured cloth around the base of the Ruwanwelisaya in a symbolic act of dressing. Saffron is the colour of the robes worn by Buddhist monks. Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Broken Promises

Dark clouds pass over a paddy field in Belihuloya, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, without shedding any rain. Sri Lanka is experiencing one of the worst droughts in the past forty years.

Drought in the Highlands

The 372-square kilometre Samanalawewa, close to Belihuloya, in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, was created in 1992, with the construction of the Samanala Dam. The reservoir is one of the largest and deepest in the country, providing irrigation and hydro-electricity, but the recent drought has dropped its water level dramatically. Normally, the spot in the foreground, where the photographer is standing would be underwater.

Jade at Sunset, Off Vakarai, Sri Lanka #3

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.

Tank & Temple #16

The Ruwanwelisaya at dawn, as seen from across the Basawakkulama Reservoir, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The Basawankulama, built in 400 BC by King Pandukabhaya is thought to be Sri Lanka's oldest reservoir. The Ruwanwelisaya is relatively newer, built in 140 BC by King Dutugemunu.

Shroud of Clouds

The Ruwanwelisaya was created by King Dutugemunu of Anuradhapura in the 2nd century BC on the site where he personally defeated and killed King Elara of the Cholas. As Dutugemunu lay dying, the Ruwanwelisaya was still incomplete, but to soothe his mind his brother Tissa had the unfinished stupa shrouded in white cloth so that to the ageing eyes of the king it looked complete. The Ruwanwelisaya was finally finished a few years after Dutugemunu's death. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Childhood's End

Painfully young Buddhist monks listen to a sermon in the sunny courtyard of the Ruwanwelisaya, in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka.

Isurumuniya Temple, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka #3

Built by King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura in the 4th century BC, the Isurumuniya rock temple has had many renovations and additions to it over two thousand years of its existence, with some of its most famous features attributed to the 6th and 7th centuries AD. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Sri Lankan Parliament, Kotte

Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.

Spear Fishing in the Morning, Puttalam Lagoon #5

West coast of Sri Lanka.

The Fortune Teller, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka #2

A palm reader who makes a living by going up to strangers and claiming she could read their fortune dissolves into shyness in front of my lens.

Mask #2

Traditional Sri Lankan mask used in plays and rituals. Shot on assignment for Serendib magazine.