The art of wildlife photography

By Chenelle Fernando
Photos Krishan Kariyawasam

This time around, the focus for the monthly lecture hosted by the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society was on the art of nature and wildlife photography and was conducted by Dr. Lalith Ekanayake.

Dr. Ekanayake is a consultant physician and gastroenterologist, consultant in diving, Director at Navy Medical Services, and is an enthusiastic wildlife and nature photographer.

He stressed the importance of staying true to his ethos, where he would always place the welfare of fauna and flora ahead of his work. “I think this is important due to the lack of uniformity in wildlife ethics. As long as you work sensibly by acting accordingly, I think you’re there,” he reiterated its importance.

Dr. Ekanayake’s basic principle for the novice is simple: “First shut your mouth, look through one eye, use your fingers and wait.” The art of wildlife photography, as we learnt, stems from general photography.

Unlike most other forms of photography, wildlife photographers have no control over their subject and are rather restricted. Furthermore, such photographers embark upon the process of making as opposed to taking a picture. “We can’t control their movement, lighting or the environment, the only thing we can control is our camera and lens,” he added.

As per his expertise, a picture is ideally made almost quite instantly, at the moment the photo is taken. This is worlds apart from just capturing an image and editing it on computer software.
Having an in-depth understanding by having learnt the subject is of importance in capturing the ideal picture.

The lack of knowledge on the technique and correct mechanisms of the camera places one in an uncomfortable situation of not capturing picture-perfect shots. “Capturing unique shots that are drastically different from the mundane is the solution to winning competitions,” he said.

The audience was mesmerised by the brilliantly captured clicks that have won him awards and accolades all around the globe.

A common perception most have when they consider wildlife photography is that it must always appear very sophisticated and ought to have captured animals like snakes, lions, or even bears. Whilst it is important to capture such images, capturing meticulous images of slow and gentle animals and natural effects to add to the thrill and satisfaction of it all. They have their own beauty and sense of sophistication which adds a truly artistic touch to the image.

He then spoke of visualising the image prior to capturing it. According to him, none of his images have been captured by chance, but instead through precise visualisation of exactly what he wished to take. This was evident in one of his photographs of an eagle, in which the concept he wished to portray through his image was crystal clear.

Whilst there remain a number of traits that need to be perfected by a wildlife photographer, patience stood out the most. As the audience was told, the capturing of perfect images may take several minutes or even hours, depending on the type of the image.