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June 25, 2014

Les Picker - Your photo guide in Sri Lanka

Academy_SQ_Sri-Lanka_125.jpgNikonians Academy Director Mike Hagen files his report on upcoming activities and also posts an interview with Les Picker.

The focus of the interview is the newest photo tour destination on the academy curriculum: Sri Lanka.

Here is Mike's report:

We are headed to the Giant Redwoods this week with Michael Mariant.

It's going to be a great week of incredible photographs. The four-day photo adventure runs Thursday, June 26 to Sunday, June 29.

Next up for us is Jim Stamates' wildlife photography trip to Alaska this July to photograph whales, bears and ice fields. This is a seven-day adventure (Friday July 18, to Thursday July 24).  

We've just added new Masters Series Workshops for San Francisco and New York City this September and October. Check them out at our website:


Les Picker: Your guide to Sri Lanka


Nikonians is proud to offer a photo tour destination that is truly off the beaten path. 

Academy faculty member Les Picker will be leading a tour of the island of Sri Lanka. 

Since this is a first-of-its-kind tour, I decided to interview Les, an aw travel photographer about it.

Why Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka Les1.jpg

Every year the Earth seems to get smaller and photo destinations today are often overdone. 

When I first visited Sri Lanka, I was incredibly impressed by its rich photographic potential. Warm weather, white sand beaches, cascading waterfalls, ancient temples, verdant landscapes and friendly people all line up for the perfect photographic environment. 

So many of its attractions are still pristine, but will be changing rapidly in future years, so now is the best time to go. 

Plus, costs for a Sri Lanka tour are a fraction of other exotic travel destinations.

Is it safe in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka Les2.jpg

Quite safe. There was a long-standing civil insurrection that lasted for decades, but that ended many years ago. 

Being a primarily Buddhist nation crime is low. The Sri Lankans are very friendly and welcome tourists.

How are the accommodations?
The hotels we will use during the 11-night tour are all very good. 

After a full day's photography, they offer a clean, welcoming environment. Food is fresh and high quality. 

Most Buddhists follow a primarily vegetarian diet, although they cater to tourists, so meats and fresh fish are offered.

Do participants have to be in top physical shape?

Sri Lanka Les3.jpg

The short answer is, no. To clarify, we will be walking through temples and sites that require climbing some steps. 

One site has many steps and another involves hiking. However, these can be done according to the person's abilities. 

Perhaps you won't hike quite as far, but the sites you are able to access will be fantastic! You will be able to hire a porter nearly anywhere we stop for just a few dollars, so carrying your gear will not be an issue.

Are non-photographer spouses welcome?

Sri Lanka Les4.jpg

Most definitely! There will be many sites that are just as interesting to the non-photographer or for a point-and-shoot enthusiast. 

There are ancient temples that are still being used, historical sites, tea plantations, and tons of wildlife that anyone can enjoy, camera or not. 

We encourage non-photographer spouses to attend and know they will have a tremendous time.

Is there something for the landscape photographer?


Sri Lanka is a landscape photographer's paradise! 

How about waterfalls, rolling hills of tea plants, grasses blowing in wide expanses of meadows, beaches, waterscapes and forests? 

Sound good?

Are the people willing to be photographed?

As I said, Sri Lankans are a proud and exceptionally friendly people. 

They are usually willing to have their pictures taken. 

Sri Lanka Les9.jpg

Of course, we always make it a practice to ask for permission first.

 It is also nice to get your subject's email address and send them a copy when you get home.

How about wildlife?
This is one of the most surprising things about Sri Lanka for those who do not know it. 

It has amazing, abundant wildlife. Elephants abound and we will be visiting two parks that feature wild elephants. 

The highlight of the trip for wildlife lovers, whether photographer or observer, is Yala National Park, where we will do five separate safari trips. 

Sri Lanka Les5.jpg

It has the highest density of leopards in the world, plus elephants, water buffalo, a rare species of bear, crocodiles, tropical birds, monkeys and much more.

Where can Nikonians get more information?
Check the Nikonians Academy site

If you have further questions for Les, feel free to write him at


Sri Lanka Photos courtesy of Les Picker

Posted by flashdeadline at June 25, 2014 12:46 AM