trainride in sri lanka

Photography Tours Sri Lanka - August 2017

Ahh Sri Lanka. A country of lush jungle and paddy fields. Of misty hill country carpeted with the vivid green manicured tea gardens. Of white beaches and impossibly blue sea. It’s really rather perfect.

From enjoying one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys across lush carpeted plantations, to scouting leopards by fast Jeep, interiors in thousand year old caves, and more than one delicious curry, we weaved our way through country and beach to shoot the highlights of this wonderful place.

 Thanks again for all of you who came on our Sri Lanka photography tours – Rebecca truly had an amazing time with you all.

Creative Escapes Sri Lanka
photo tours sri lanka
Perahera 2017
Temple of the Tooth
sri lanka photography tours
sri lanka photography tours 2017

If you’re after variation, this is the trip for you. We start with the basics in Colombo, the garden city of the east, and quickly get up to speed with our apertures and shutter speeds – it’s easy when you know how.

We toured some local villages, then headed up to hill country, to Kandy, the cultural centre, and in time for Perahera, one of the most famous Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. Once there, we got behind the scenes and shot some candid portraits of the performers, took some stunning low light shots of the party procession, even got some interiors of a thousand year old UNESCO Heritage site.

Then it was onto the incredible train journey, weaving our way across the spine of the island, observing endless undulating tea carpeted landscapes, meeting local monks travelling between stops, and into some fabulous weather. We hit the jeeps in Yala National Park, drank the world’s most expensive tea and of course, shot the famous stilt fishermen at sunset.

Here our are shots of the week from our Sri Lanka Photography Tours …

Shot of the Week – Rebecca

Our nicknamed ‘2.8’ photographer! Having shot for a while and a previous Creative Escapes traveller – Rebecca had a natural eye for light and story! Always finding the perfect angle and shooting with such clarity, this image was taken (at f2.8) on our day at the local fish market in Negombo! Magnificent image!

rebecca danby creative escapes

Shot of the Week – Felicity

Felicity captured this gorgeous image of a tea picker working at a tea plantation, as they work and move very fast through the tea plants. Felicity did a good job to capture her portrait with such pose. Great composition, strong narrative and capturing colours!

Tea Picker Photography Tour Sri Lanka

Shot of the Week – Jane

Jane was grinning so much when she showed this one to the group! A magical Shot taken on the amazing train ride from Kandy to Ella, We were lucky enough to be surrounded by young monks on the last few stops of the trip, his calm stare, composition and eye-catching glowing light makes this one a real winner! Well done Jane!

Jane Savage Creative Escapes

Shot of the Week – John

Wanting to explore Black and white imagery during his trip in Sri Lanka, John spent time mixing natural and flash light in his work. A truly clever social documentary photographer always ready for that moment, the decisive moment! This image was part of 3 black and white images presented to the group on our final evening. John portrayal of Sri Lankan people and their connection with the ocean was a stunner. So energetic and striking! You should be very proud!

Photography tours sri lanka

Shot of the Week – Julie

After proclaiming her husband was the real photographer and she just set it to Auto – Julie really excelled from beginner to full manual confident portrait photographer in only 10 days. Always finding stories and connecting with her subjects – and was nicknamed by the group our ‘emotional’ photographer. This photograph was taken at a local food market in Colombo. Beautiful.

Creative Escapes Sri Lanka 2017

Shot of the Week – Louise

After conquering her fear of taking portraits of strangers, Louise found this gentlemen down the backstreets of Galle, he told her his story and she created this superb image. Such a strong Portrait with atmospheric light. Awesome shot and great story to tell along with it!

sri lanka photo tours creative escapes

Shot of the Week – Varsha

Our very own abstract photographer, always taking one step back to view the situation before finding her unusual angle and perspective. Varsha always shoots with a strong narrative that’s isn’t always obvious at first. This shot was taken on our safari day in Yala national park. An impactful black and white shot that fills the screen with beautiful detail.

sri lanka tourism photos

So which one was your favourite. Let us know below!


cuba creative escapes header

Cuba Photography Tour June 2017 Highlights

Timeworn yet magnificent, dilapidated but dignified, fun and full of energy – our fifth year in Cuba – and still a country of indefinable magic.

We chose early June to land, with fewer tourists, great weather and no hurricanes in sight.  We based ourselves in a 5* hotel overlooking the sea, and slowly worked our way behind the scenes far from tourists to get a unique insight into what makes this country tick.

We shot sunsets from the back of a 50’s Buick, got private access to the Ballet, rolled up some passable cigars in a place Arnie buys his, even stopped in for tea to see Roberto Salas, Fidel’s personal photographer. In sleepy Trinidad, we shot classic B&W street photography in this UNESCO-listed site, had more mojitos than we should have, and ate some of the most delicious food in Cuba.

Thanks again for all of you who participated, it was one to remember.

Cuba photographic workshop june 2017
Client Image : Sanjay
photographic tours of cuba
Client Image : Sanjay
photo tours cuba
Client image : Sanjay

We began where every great trip should start. At the bar. And not just any bar, one where Al Capone used to meet all the mafia bosses in the twenties, still with comfy leather club chairs, a rum selection to die for and a cigar room haunted by celebs.

Steering clear of the few tourists that were around in this low season, we ducked through the graffiti-laced backstreets to see the real Cuba, heading west in old Buicks to see Roberto Salas, and shot scapes of the city from our private teaching space. A quick detour out to the tobacco fields of Vinales, shoot some candid portraits of farmers (and roll a few) plus enjoy a spectacular lunch of organic food with jaw dropping views of the valley.

Then honey cocktails in Trinidad (yum), got very tanned, and discovered perfect conditions aboard our bar/train out to Valle de los Ingenios. A quick portrait shoot with some horses, we were back in Havana at the ballet, shooting graffiti, boxers in training, and candids inside locals houses. We shot in a school, a nearby artists community, and even more portraits inside houses. A stunning, lively, and 100% fun 11 days in the tropics!

Here our are shots of the week from our Cuba Photography Tour

Shot of the Week – Mette

Like all Creative Escapers, Mette loves to travel. She wanted to become more proficient as a photographer so she can enjoy making pictures when exploring the globe. Mette had little experience shooting manually, but got to grips with the technical aspects of photography quickly – which gave her plenty of time to make more creative work. 

Mette is very a considerate photographer and responded really well to our recommended approach of of shooting fewer images of higher quality. Mette had no interest in shooting cliche and as we kept shooting, we realised she had a particular interest in photographing how women and children fit into Cuban culture. Feeling relaxed about her technical skills, she took some very strong portraits in Trinidad – like this one – and on our return to Havana, nailed it at the ballet and the boxing gym. Great fun to be with, top time and lovely work. Super well done!

cuba photography workshop june 2017

Shot of the Week – Ian

Ian was a complete newcomer to manual photography and used the Escape to firmly get to grips with his camera. With guided tuition was making consistently accurate manual exposures within a day. And, although he didn’t realise it at first, he also has a good instinct for composition and this together with observations of colour and light, his confidence grew quickly.

On the first day Ian was less sure about what to photograph, but it the aid of a variety of practical briefs, he quickly got his eye in and used each photographic assignment to explore and experience Cuba further. Initially less interested in photographing people, Ian got great results when shooting the portraiture, in both Havana and Trinidad, where he shot this cracker of a boy playing in the street. Well done you. 

cuba photography tour june 2017 highlights

Shot of the Week – Søren

Søren is a Cuba regular and has been making images for some time – but enjoyed getting back to basics and refreshing his technical skills before being set loose to make pictures. 

He set himself some tough challenges, such as making his own location backdrop and hanging it in the town square! Shoot after shoot, he started to see a marked development in his approach to documentary, street and portrait photography and came back with an amazing portfolio of work. In fact, come the end, he began to collate an emerging body of work exploring his passion about Cuba – which we hope to see as a book in the near future. Good luck Søren. 

photography holidays cuba

Shot of the Week – Sanjay

Sanjay is passionate about photography, with a particular interest in portraiture. He is pretty confident approaching people – and probably photographed half the population of Trinidad and visited most of them at home! 

Although having already developed an approach to making a successful photographs, he was less experienced at making images containing narrative and also needed guidance building photographs into a series. During the holiday, we worked on broadening his stylistic repertoire, and considered different approaches to working in series. Sanjay has the ability to be a bit of a chameleon aesthetically so we also worked on strengthening his ‘visual voice’ as a photographer by shooting around a concise theme. And from that, some lovely images flowed.

photography tour cuba june 2017

So which one was your favourite. Let us know below!


Chines Girl Click A Photo

Read this before you buy a new camera.

Photography Holidays Camera Advice

OK, so you’ve made the decision. The iPhone isn’t cutting it and your other digital works as though it’s powered by steam. Now what? It’s rumoured more photos were taken last year than all the other years since the dawn of time; our planet is photo crazy and those savvy manufacturers are waiting in the wings to seduce you with their latest offering. But what to choose?

In this guide, we’ve cut through the fluff, taken a deep breath and listed our top tips on what to buy. Sure, we’ll drop in some names, but as you’ll see, it’s not about brand per se, more what you are going to use the thing for. Along the way, we’ve got some pocket-pleasing tips so you’ve got some change for some clothes in the sales, and a little plan to get you started once it’s unboxed and ready to rock, whether you’re considering a photography holiday in Cuba, Rajasthan, Sri Lanka or any of our other worldwide photographic workshop destinations.

Buying a Nikon doesn't make you a photographer. It makes you a Nikon owner.

— Unknown

Tip No.1 - Don't buy anything

OK, bear with us here. You’ll get a new trinket in the end.

The reality is that almost all of the cameras on the market are amazing. Sharp pictures, lovely colours, great in the hands. Brilliant. The problem is that the shelves in your local Jessops are stacked full with zillions of options; you’ve got DSLR, Micro Four Thirds, Mirrorless, Fuji, Olympus, Nikon, Sony. Argh. Someone you know has recommended Canon because they love Canon. But the commission-hungry guy in the shop is steering you towards something entirely different. What to do?

Our advice is: walk out. Everyone has a camera nowadays, so call up your friends and get them to take you out on a little walkabout, and show you what they’ve got. You see, lots of cameras ultimately won’t ‘feel right’. If you think that at the start, then it’s not going to change – hasty purchases are going to leave you stuck. So too bulky/small/large/heavy isn’t going to cut it. The screen might be too small/menus too fiddly. Take your time – head out a few times with some different kit and do your research on location, not on the net. These things aren’t cheap, and it’s best to choose right – once and for all. Hey, you can even head back into the shop again, hand over your wallet, and take one for a test drive. If it’s a decent camera shop, they don’t mind. Failing that you could head out and rent one. Drop us a line and we’ll recommend some good places to go, if you like.

The point is, waiting a while gives you time to find a camera that suits you, plus gives you a chance to try out some different styles of photography. There’s no point buying a massive DSLR with zoom lens, if actually you’re drawn to street photography and using it will make you stick out like a sore thumb.

We’ve been running photography trips for almost a decade and lost count of how many cameras have gone onto eBay after one of our courses. So save yourself all the hassle. Don’t buy one (for a bit).

Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.

— Margaret Bourke White

Tip No.2 - Just say no

Right. You’ve done your time, found your match, and you’ve got your credit card in hand. Retailers are getting killed by the internet, so they’ve rolled out a combination of trade-in, cash back and bundles to get you through the door.

However, twenty minutes in, you’ve got a fine deal on the camera you’ve-been-busy-making-sure-is-right-for-you (tick), but the counter has a load of other stuff there you’ll ‘definitely need’ – most of them expensive lenses with lots of acronyms. The cheap deal you imagined is becoming actually not that cheap.

Having done the same back in the day, and witnessed many clients arrive with more-kit-than-they-need, our advice to you is look to buy the body only, and pick one lens to start off with. If you need some tips on which one to choose, read our blog post on ‘What lens to buy’ to give you some help.

Having a new camera is bad enough to get to grips with, so make it as easy for yourself as possible. Adding in a troupe of lenses to the mix is often a step too far. And down the line, you’ll actually find you’ll wear one or two lenses to death, and the rest will sleep in the cupboard. Best to buy when you need, not overbuy and regret.

The less gear you use, the more you grow as a photographer. Although there are fewer options available, you'll find more creative ways to capture what you feel. In a way, all your technical options before turn into creative solutions that improve your photography even more.

— Marius Vieth

Tip No.3 - Don't get the latest model

When Fuji brought out it’s ground-breaking new rangefinder, the X-Pro 1, in 2012, Amateur Photographer Magazine called it “superb”. At £1429, it was “everything any photographer could want”. And the price for this camera now, just 4 years later? A humble £329. Brand new. In the box.

Back in 2010, one savvy blogger decided to test out this continual desire we have to acquire the latest kit. He shot one image on a 6-megapixel camera, and the same image on a 21-megapixel – printed both and hung them on the wall. He asked friends and family to pick which one was the ‘expensive camera’ and which not. No one could tell the difference, the A3 sized prints simply weren’t large enough for anyone to tell.

Of course, beyond megapixels, cameras have improved in the last decade. But cameras touted as the latest thing a few years ago are going for half the price now, so our tip is snap them up and not the latest one.

If you’re keen to not spend too much and get the most bang for your buck, look at eBay. The site will be full of last years cameras recently replaced by Santa, with very little mileage on them (Simply ask them the activation count, or failing that the file number from their last shot to check. DSC0234.JPG means the camera has only ever taken 234 shots – they are built for between 20,000 – 50,000).

For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.

— Henri Cartier-Bresson

Tip No.4 - If all else fails

If there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians in this scenario, here is our no-snooze roundup based on the cameras we’ve seen and experienced on our holidays.

DSLR v Micro Four Thirds v Rangefinder

The reason DSLR’s (Digital SLR) have been so popular is that they are easy to compose. When you look through the viewfinder, you see the exact shot you’re going to take. The other options are smaller, lighter, seemingly the obvious choice – but you see the shot on a small TV screen and it’s never quite what you see in the frame. Clients are divided – best to try out each for yourself. Seems minor, but it’s a love/hate thing that might change your mind.

Canon v Nikon v Fuji v Olympus v Sony

Nikon’s are built well, feel solid and high quality, but their menu systems are super complicated and tend to change after every model (thanks for that). Canon’s are more plasticky but easier to use. Fuji’s are really well built, so are Olympus and Sony. Basically, its horses for courses.

One’s to watch

Here are a couple of cameras to take a sneaky peek at.

  • The Canon 1200D is a steal under £300. Really lightweight, small body so fits well in your hands, and packs 18 megapixels and an HD video camera too. Super simple to use too.
  • Fuji X100 – professionals love this camera – its got a fixed lens so good for street, portraits, landscapes – and f/2 creates that lovely blur in the background. It produces beautiful, sharp, lovely coloured pictures; if the latest model’s price puts you off, there were two before it much lower.

If you’re still stuck, and toying with a couple of options, drop us a line on our Contact Form and we’ll gladly help out. Happy shopping!