Shooting with Chitral

By Omalee de Silva

Chitral Jayatilake is a well-known nature enthusiast and professional photographer. He also happens to be a committedhand at John Keells. This combination could not be more serendipitous when it comes to running a course on photography! So we didn’t have to spend much energy to convince Chitral to share his passion with all of us – his colleagues at John Keells Group. The 4-day course for beginning photographers was aptly named “Shoot with Chitral”.

Being the coordinator of this course which was initiated by my division – Corp Coms, I was excited to be a part of this workshop. What’s more, as the course progressed I came to feel the pulse of the participants: their keen interest, their growing passion for the subject, and the slow revelation of their awesome latent talent.  The participants were a totally different bunch at the end of each remarkable week. As for me, photography opened my heart to see the world in its best light!

Knowing instinctively that the participants were at different levels in  both skill and knowledge, Chitral started with the basics of photography, explaining the terminology in detail.  Many novices like me were very attentive to Chitral’s every word, while some “I-know-more” kinds were made happy with a few colourful slides. He tactfully brought everyone on to the same page on the terminology and history of the camera.  He also revealed some marvelous work of other photographers, illustrating different light settings, gadgets used, and the angle of the model and the camera operator. This got everyone on to the edge of their seats. And I saw peoples’ eyes sparkle!

In the second week, after grooming us on the nitty-gritty of lighting, professional wedding photographer Dimithri Crusz took us into the world of flash photography. Dimithri lives and works in Sri Lanka and has been a professional photographer for over 13 years. His vast experience was shared with panache to the participants who were advised to use natural light wherever and whenever possible.

All of us got excited when the third week rolled along – it was time for nature photography. And who better to do it, than the Master himself?  Being a wildlife enthusiast, Chitral shared his experiences in the wild. His best shots mesmerized everyone and made us wonder what an amazing ‘eye’ he has. One key point of nature photography that Chitral emphasised on was “catching the right moment”. Once missed, a photographic moment rarely comes back, since Mother Nature is unpredictable. The moral of the story is the importance of patience and perseverance: observing everything through the lens of your camera (and not through your naked eye) when you are in the wild, so that you are ready to click when the ‘opportunity’ presents itself – suddenly!

Competition stirs up hidden talent. This maxim was proved again in the final session of “Shoot with Chitral”.

Kicked off by Group President Dilani Alagaratnam who appreciated Chitral for his sharing, the fourth and final session saw 4 teams competing against each other to win the top slot: precisely named “Chitral’s Sharp Shooters”.  At the previous session the enthusiastic participants were divided into four teams, and each team was asked to submit one photograph in each of four categories: nature, portrait, landscape, and creative. The response was overwhelming and the outcome incredible. The team calling themselves “Click Kolas” became the Winners, with just a one point lead over the Runners-up – “Shoot! Studio 2” team!  As their prize, the Click Kolas received a special cake made in the shape of a digital camera by the sculptor wizards at Cinnamon Lakeside.

And with that the shutter closed on “Shoot with Chitral”.

Few photographs presented by the teams are given below.