Tea Pickers

We had one 2-night stop but that was very early on in our tour, on nights 2 and 3, at  Wilpattu National Park. Now at our Farm Resorts accommodation we have another 2-night stop which is more interesting; it means we have [well, OK, Francine has] time to get some laundry done and it also means that there’s less time travelling leaving more time for photography.

J18_3709 Tea PickerThere hasn’t really been much so far in the way or organized photographic subjects, other than sunset on the beach at Negombo the day we arrived which was, frankly, a bit of a damp squib. I was probably taking it too literally again. Here, some effort has been put in to arrange a tea pickers shoot. This morning, four local ladies have been retained for us to work with for an hour. It’s Sunday and they wouldn’t be working at real tea picking so it’s extra money for them. We’ve driven past a few groups of tea pickers on the road but most of them were wearing rather garish branded baskets of modern material. Here’s a horribly posed snap to show what I mean.

_19R4251J18_3803 Tea PickingFarm Resorts has its own slopes covered in tea bushes so the ladies came to us so rather than us having to travel to them. With four would be photographers and four tea picking ladies, we split ourselves into pairs, each pair of camera-wielding tourists working with one pair of ladies for 30 minutes before swapping. The sun was strong and getting quite high. That made life a little difficult with the ladies’ eye sockets being strongly shadowed, a condition known colloquially as panda eyes. We like a challenge; a spot of post-processing wizardry would be needed.

J18_4088 Elattoneura centralisA post-shoot critique was organized. I had to play truant, though because, at the bottom of the tea slopes was a narrow stream running eventually into the large reservoir  beside the Farm Resorts property. After half time when I had been changing lades, I’d spotted a dragonfly. No post mortem was going to keep me away from that so I stayed behind to investigate. I’m very glad I did because I snagged two lifers, one of which was my first Sri Lankan endemic, a damselfly known as a Sri Lanka Dark-glittering Threadtail (Elattoneura centralis). This was just as much as a photographic challenge as the tea picking, being an essentially black damselfly perched on a brilliantly illuminated bright rock.

A couple of our chiefs had been on a scouting jaunt and had come up with a cunning plan for the afternoon. [I told you this was being worked out on the fly.] They’d found three sites of interest along one of the local side roads so, after lunch, we all clambered on board the charabanc and set off.

First stop was at a small old church which was … well, it was a small old church.

J18_4112 Fruit bat roostJ18_4213 Fruit bat in flightFor those keen on heartbeats as opposed to bricks, the second stop was much more interesting. A colony of Fruit Bats was roosting in some trees just a short step off the road. Furthermore there was access to get closer to the trees. We were hoping there would be some flying action. As we stood waiting for what seemed like half an hour, the odd bat launched itself from one tree to another but usually behind one or more of the trees. Hope was fading a little but for some reason, there was then a burst of flying activity. Regrettably the sky was a bland bright grey which turned almost white by the time the bats were correctly exposed. Nonetheless, they made a very interesting and somewhat different in-flight subject and at least the background is not distracting. Maybe I can find a sky I like better and learn to become a Photoshopographer. 😉

J18_4253 Distant Adam's PeakLastly, the road brought us towards a distant view of a mountain called Adam’s Peak. The sacred Adam’s Peak had been noted on the tour itinerary as an optional climb that would required a middle-of-the-night start to be there for another sunrise. Only one of us had been interested and he changed his mind when his lens fell and was washed into oblivion over Devon Falls – he was more than a little distracted by attempting to rent a replacement for an approaching game drive. So, this was as close as we would all get to Adam’s Peak. It was quite a good second prize, though, because we had a vantage point over an S-bend road and were hoping we’d be able to get some light trails as night fell. The travel tripod isn’t as sturdy as one might hope but this is the nearest close miss.

Back for another nasi goreng, which is Indonesian for fried rice. I’m going to have to learn how to cook it.

Posted in 2019 Sri Lanka

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