Galle Face Green Street Photography

Photo of the Week: Lovers Under an Umbrella

Photo of the Week, Photo Tips, Street Photography

Galle Face Green Street Photography

At Galle Face Green, a large park in downtown Colombo, Sri Lanka, there are a few benches where lovers sit under umbrellas to get some privacy. In a crowded and conservative country, getting alone time isn’t always easy. It is especially difficult with people like me taking photos!

Before the Shot

On my first day in Sri Lanka, I saw several couples under umbrellas such as this. I took two photos, one from an angle that had one couple in the foreground and others in the distance, and one straight on. The first photo didn’t really work, and I got nervous and simply choked on the second one. The feet were cut off and it was composed terribly!

The Decisive Moment

  • Focal Length – 18mm (27 full-frame equivalent)
  • Shutter Speed – 1/500
  • Aperture – f/16
  • ISO – 3200

Three weeks later when we returned to Colombo, I saw a few couples under umbrellas and I was determined not to mess it up. I didn’t want to disturb the couple or change their behavior; they were seeking some solitude and probably didn’t want a tourist snapping their photo. All over Sri Lanka people are very eager to have their photo taken, but this seemed different.

To be more discreet and not disturb them, I pre-focused my camera and pre-composed the image by aiming at an empty bench. Then, I walked past them, stopped, quickly snapped the photo, and kept walking.

After the Photo

A couple on the adjacent bench smiled at me but moved their umbrella to hide when they saw me take this photo. I knew I got the shot I wanted and didn’t want to disturb those who were aware of me, so I moved on.

The Takeaway: Take your time, observe and compose the shot in advance. By taking a slower approach, I got a nice shot. When I rushed it, I ruined it.

Having said that, I am glad I messed up the first time and had three weeks to be mad at myself because this scene was much better than the one I saw on my first visit. I really love the gestures of the feet and legs, plus the pattern on the umbrella and texture of the wall make a great black and white image.

Have you ever messed up a photo and been mad at yourself over it? 

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Currently living in Bangkok, I travel, write, take photos, and stalk street cats. ~

10 thoughts on “Photo of the Week: Lovers Under an Umbrella”

    • One thing I’ve learned in photography is things change, and you can’t ever expect to get a shot again, even if it is just a building or something. I got lucky to see this again!

  1. Getting the second chance is a sweet thing. So intriguing the custom of using an umbrella to get some privacy. Quite clever in a country which as you say is so conservative and crowded.

    • There are a handful of benches along the wall, and just about everyone had a couple under an umbrella! It was a very funny sight.

  2. I like your back story on this photo. It adds texture to the image. I’m usually very uncomfortable about taking street shots that include people in them. I like your approach by setting up the shot in advance in a discreet way. I will have to remember this because your result is great.

    • Thank you. I have times when I am comfortable and times when I’m awkward with taking people shots. In Asia, it is really much easier I think because people are often flattered, humored or honored to have their photo taken. This shot was a little different though because they were clearly seeking some solitude. I am glad you enjoyed the back story.

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