Columnists,Lorraine Cattell,Main Slider,Top Story l by Lorraine Cattell l 18 Oct 2019     - 142

An Exclusive In-Depth Interview with Landscape Photographer Harsha Perera


Harsha Perera is an exceptionally talented landscape photographer with a deep connection to nature. He is well-known for his ability to capture dramatic lighting along with breath-taking scenery. In this interview, he talks about the importance of taking photographs for yourself rather than trying to please the crowd, how nature and photography have been therapeutic for him, and much, much more.

First of all Harsha, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I'm a banker by profession, working in a local government bank (Sri Lanka Savings Bank) as an IT manager. I'm responsible for the network infrastructure in the bank. All my technical training is related to IT and Networking.

Do you have any formal training in photography?

No, I'm a self-taught photographer.

Can you remember the moment when you decided to pursue photography as a profession?

As I mentioned earlier, my job involves working with computer technology. However, what I love most is nature. When I'm travelling, I love to explore mountains, waterfalls and of course, the lush jungles. I feel alive when I'm in such surroundings. I used to travel a lot and take photos to capture precious moments and preserve memories. I never really thought that it would be a profession, I just wanted to share my photographs with the world and tell the story of how beautiful nature can be.

How would you describe your photographic style?

I'm a landscape photographer. When I visit a beautiful place for the sunset or sunrise, there are sequences of events I experience such as the golden hour (short moments after sunrise and before sunset) and the blue hour time of day that marks the transition between day and night. For most people, these moments are stored as one memory, but in my photos, I can tell the entire story and the experience through a single image. This technique is called 'Time Blending' and it's an incredibly creative way to combine photos of the same scene that were taken over an extended period.

Who and what inspires you to keep creating and exploring?

Photography is mainly for my own pleasure. I become more energetic when I'm in contact with nature and I feel less stressful because I'm relaxed. Once I started travelling, I was inspired by the stunning images here in Sri Lanka but I was also impressed by the travel and landscape images of American photographer Elia Locardi who is well-known for bringing his photos to life in bold vivid colour. Like him, I intend to move on to other countries with my photography.

How do you choose a location and what, in your opinion, is most important to consider when shooting landscape pictures?

When shooting a landscape, the most important aspect is light. Landscape photographers deal with natural light most of the time so to capture the real beauty of the scenery, we use High-Dynamic Range (HDR) technique to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than what is possible with standard digital imaging. I choose the perfect time of day to capture my dramatic images... when the light is soft and warm during sunrise and sunset.

I know that you do hotel & tourism photography and also architectural. What draws you to landscape photography?

I started landscape photography first. It's my hobby and the thing that makes me happy. I was offered work with hotel and tourism photography because people saw my landscape photos. I believe hotels and tourism are benefiting from the beauty of nature and I hope this will finance me so that I can travel and capture the world.

Can you take us through your creative journey and tell us what it is that you look for in an image?

We all have cameras now, anyone can capture a landscape even from a mobile phone. The difference between just a snapshot and a photograph is a photographer should be able to convey his message through the photographs. To do this, he should have a vision. Love of nature is my message. I like to show it with the beautiful colours that nature provides us with.

What technology/software/camera gear do you use?

From the start, I've been using a Canon 600D camera with Canon 18-55mm and 10-18mm lenses. It's not a highly sophisticated piece of equipment but I'm fine with it. I use Photoshop for my post-processing. Mostly, I use exposure bracketing to capture my images because of the limitation I have with my camera. I currently don't use any filters.

After all this time, do you still find photography a challenge?

Yes, absolutely! Landscape photography results in failure most of the time because nature can change every minute. It may rain heavily or clouds may block the light. So it's a chance that we take and it makes landscape photography even more enjoyable. Sometimes I've had to visit the same location several times to capture the image I wanted. Even though I may miss the shot, I never miss the experience I acquire at each location.

I'm curious... Once you arrive at a location that you have not been to before, how do you spend time searching for compositions?

I arrive as early as possible and scout the location. I usually segregate my frame into 3 parts: foreground, middle ground and background. I try to fill the foreground and background with interesting subjects. Shooting in the golden hour helps me to find a good backdrop with dramatic colours. If I'm lucky (and in most cases I'm not), I'll find a good middle ground, then look for leading lines and curves to build the image in the frame across the 3 separate zones. Most of the time I may not be able to fill those 3 zones, but I try my best to fill even one or two and satisfy myself.

So, what is the key to making a great landscape photograph?

Understanding your camera and technology. This will help you to capture the image and a successful combination of art and technology will produce a great landscape photograph. You need post-processing skills to overcome your camera’s limitations.

The world is full of amazing places and photo opportunities – what are some of the countries or regions you would like to visit, and photograph, in the coming years?

Patagonia is favoured by most landscape photographers and it's my dream destination too. The Lauterbrunnen Valley Waterfalls in Switzerland and the Son Doong Caves in Vietnam are also spectacular.

What are some common mistakes that you see new photographers making?

Most of them are following either the technical part in photography or the artistic path. Focusing on just one, but overlooking the other, will not help them become better photographers.

So, what practical tips or advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started with landscape photography?

Learn the technology and art of photography and practise more and more outside amongst nature. Learn from mistakes and study other people's photography. Learn new things about photography every day and try to experiment.

I'm sure our readers would love to hear about a favourite spot in your local area where you like to shoot and why it is so interesting?

My favourite place is the small coastal town of Koggala, located in the Galle District. It's situated at the edge of a lagoon and attracts many nature lovers because of its stunning scenery. I've never taken a bad photo there and the rocks and sea are so dramatic – it's a perfect place for a landscape photographer.

Finally, Harsha, what are you looking forward to over the next year?

I'm planning to teach all my tips and tricks to new subscribers on my YouTube channel by expanding it and posting videos about all aspects of photography in Sinhala.

If you would like to learn more about Harsha or get in touch with him, please use the links below:

website: https://harshapereraphotography.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/03rdeye/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/HarshaPerera

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lorraine Cattell

Lorraine Cattell (Eyre) is a renowned international British Fashion Journalist. Her articles & interviews appear regularly in magazines & online across the globe.

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