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?