Excursion to the Hill Country.
By: Sandeep Ellawala.
Organized by the Travel & Street Photography Group of PSSL
The Travel & Street Photography Group of the PSSL organized its first excursion of the year 2021 on 13th February to the Kandy City, and a few other popular travel destinations around the area.
Given the current pandemic situation, the group leadership had provided the participants with strict health guidelines to follow during this excursion. All attendees were expected to:
- Wear a face mask properly covering the nose and mouth in any public area.
- Carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in person.
- Bring bottles of water for personal use, preferably in reusable containers.
Team travelling from Colombo started their journey early in the morning around 4:00 AM so that much of the travelling distance could be covered before the break of dawn.
We left Colombo around 4:00 AM and managed to reach Kadugannawa to observe the sunrise. After having our breakfast from a near by restaurant, we set off to the University of Peradeniya for our first adventure. We met two more of our group members living in the area at the University entrance so that they too can join our planned excursion.
Inside the University premises we spent about 3 hours walking around, enjoying the sceneries, and taking photographs. Of course, we were all so engaged in absorbing everything around us, without even realizing it we had walked about 5 km, and probably made hundreds of photographs.
After a small break and refreshments, we headed to the Kandy City. We managed to find parking in the Kandy City Center carpark and made our base there. For the next hour and a half, we walked around streets of the Kandy city, sometimes as a team, and sometimes on our own, fully immersed in street photography, letting our creative juices flow. As agreed, we all fell back to base around 2:30 pm so that we could regroup for lunch.
After lunch, we headed to the famed Gadaladeniya Temple; once a major tourist attraction, now deserted due to the ongoing restrictions on air travel and tourism. After spending about an hour taking photographs, reminiscing on childhood memories, we headed out to another famed temple called the Lankathilaka Viharaya. As per our plan, this was where we wanted to observe the sunset. We were hoping for a colorful sunset, which we unfortunately did not get. However, we managed to capture some beautiful photographs in this location too.
Around 6:30 pm in the evening, we bid farewell to our companions from Kandy and started our 4-hour journey back home.
My Personal Experience
This is my first time ever joining an excursion organized by the PSSL Travel & Street Photography Group. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this whole experience. I forced myself to shoot only in monochrome (Fujifilm XT-4 with ACROS Film Simulation) and one focal length (Fujinon 23mm f/2) throughout the whole journey so that I could focus more on training my mind to see creatively within the limited framework that I was in. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience. To highlight a few points of observation:
- The journey was well planned. Everybody knew where they were travelling, and when they were expected to reach certain destinations. Selecting photoshoot locations was done realistically so that we would all get sufficient time in each location to make the most out of the opportunity.
- Keeping us work together as a team at times and letting us wander off into streets to explore on our own at times was a great approach to this kind of excursions. The hours we spent photographing at the University of Peradeniya at the beginning helped us bond as a team. Later in the day when we were shooting in the Kandy city streets, I saw many occasions where we were working in sync without even realizing it.
- We were not merely a group of people travelling together; we were keeping tabs on each other and observing how others were taking photographs as well. There were a number of times where I saw how others were working the scene and found myself also joining in for a capture. Seeing other photographers engage in their craft kept me continuously motivated. I wanted to sometimes try what they were doing, and sometimes what they were not doing. I had very little time to wonder what I was going to shoot, and a lot more time to go with the flow and move from one click to the next with purpose.
- During this journey, we made sure to not litter in any of our destinations. We took reusable bottles of water, bought all our other refreshments from the local shops in the area, and adopted all the health guidelines and precautions set by the authorities. We also made it a point to only leave footprints behind and bring home memories and photographs we made in our destinations.
A Few Final Thoughts
At the end of a very successful excursion, I could not help but reflect on the fact that there were a number of factors that helped me maximize my creative potential during this whole experience. With fond memories full of gratitude, I must acknowledge Dr. Jayalath Edirisinghe for his hospitality and arranging the visit to the University of Peradeniya, support we all received from our Travel & Street Photography Group Leader Mr. Nilan Herath, my fellow group members who made this journey a rewarding experience, and last but not least, PSSL for making all of this possible.
We went on an excursion, we took photographs, and we all had a great time. Our next step is to review some of our best captures during this journey, have a critique session, and further our learnings from it. If you are not a member of PSSL yet, or you are a member of PSSL but not the Travel and Street Photography Group, I encourage you to join us, and be part of our many adventures to come.