Into the Wild
By Shafiya Nawzer
The name of the game in wildlife photography, whether you’re trying to capture a herd of elephants or squirrels in your backyard – is patience. Wild animals are going to be in their habitat; you can’t ask them to look this way, do something, or stand where the light is better. You have to be there, and ready, when they decide to look or do something interesting. Be prepared to wait, and wait – it takes a long time to get good wildlife shots, even longer to make great ones.
The longer you spend with an animal or a group of animals, the better you get to know them and their habits. You get to see the personalities of different individuals, and you’ll get to the point where you can anticipate what they might do at a particular time of day or in a certain situation.
Travel content creator and wildlife photographer Ravisara Jayamanna is well known for his diverse wildlife images. He is 22 years old and studied at the Pannipitiya Dharmapala College. Currently, he is pursuing his higher education for a Software Engineering degree at the NIBM. His long and passionate association with photography began in his student days. What started as an exploration of the enchanting world of the camera gradually gained direction and focus upon wildlife photography.
Not only are his images great, but his work shows his love for nature and his concern for the environment. There are no simplistic portraits in his beautifully lit images. All show some behaviour or have an eye-grabbing characteristic. Ravisara images are more than eye-candy, each tells a story.
He believes that wildlife photography is not underscored by photographic hardware and skills alone. A deep understanding of and concern for the wild environment ought to be an integral part of a good nature photographer’s ‘eye’ in order to be able to convey the spirit behind a picture. His pictures are noteworthy for their technically sophisticated and evocative character, generating appropriate moods to move viewers.
Excerpts from the interview:
How did you get into photography?
I entered this field in 2017, by joining the photography society in my school. Those days, I used my friends’ cameras and even won awards by participating in competitions. I was interested in street photography and event photography back then.
What draws you particularly to nature and wildlife photography?
I loved wildlife since I was a kid. I used smartphones to take photos of animals such as small lizards and insects. I often went to national parks and mountains with my parents and friends. That’s how I got interested in wildlife photography.
Describe the most memorable wildlife photo you have ever shot and what made it so special?
My favourite capture is from an incident of a leopard hunting a calf. I took it in the Yala National Park. We were exhausted on that day, because we couldn't find anything good to capture in the past few days. We were fed up. That’s when we got the news about a leopard nearby. We went there soon. The leopard was there and two peacocks were approaching it, the atmosphere was still peaceful. We were there for about two hours. Then the leopard stood up and walked in a different direction. That's when we saw a buffalo with her calf and suddenly the leopard attacked the calf. All happened within 20 seconds, but the leopard was unsuccessful and the calf was lucky. Its mother saved the calf! It was a very rare incident.
What are the difficulties faced by a wildlife photographer?
Usually, we face so many difficulties. Sometimes we travel so further in mountains for many days, just to capture photos of a single species of reptile or an amphibian. These kinds of trips are so adventurous and we face so many difficulties, sometimes even accidents.
Bird photography is also very hard. We have to be so patient and cannot disturb the wildlife. Caring about nature is more important than anything.
What do you hope to portray via your images?
I always try to show people how beautiful Sri Lanka's fauna is. I take photos of animals in their natural habitats and in action so that my photos can be used for educating people. My main purpose is to help in conservation by shedding light on wildlife and making people care about animals. I believe that exquisite and unique photos can contribute towards it.
How important is having good gear?
Good gear is not that important. I used only low budget stuff in my first few years. But, with good gear, you can reach far distances and get high-quality photos. With advanced gear, you can even take photos in bad lighting. Likewise, there are so many advantages.
What are your top tips for capturing wildlife in its natural habitat?
Firstly, we need good knowledge about animals; mainly their behaviours and habitats. Secondly, patience; with these two things and a camera in your hand you are good to go. Another thing is you have to adapt to the surrounding environment. You must wear suitable clothes.
Anything exciting that you are looking forward to this New Year?
I am hoping to participate in more competitions this year and to teach about wildlife photography and post-processing through my YouTube channel. I am also looking forward to paying more attention to macro photography and animal landscape photography.
Facebook - RavisaraJayamanna - The Wildlife Photographer
Instagram - RavisaraJayamanna
Website - https://ravisarajayamanna.com/
YouTube - WILD Serendib