Galle Fort Sari

Photo of the Week: Sari in Galle

Photo of the Week, Photo Tips, Street Photography

Taking a photo of a photogenic person with an interesting background is one of the easiest and most cliche shots in photography. But it is cliche for a reason: it can give a good sense of what people wear and how it relates to the city.

This photo is very simple, but getting it was a little more complicated than it might seem.

Before the Shot

The colonial city of Galle Fort was surprisingly quiet in the morning – there was almost no one on the street and no place to – gasp! – buy coffee. Around 8am, the town came alive as kids streamed down the streets to school and women in bright saris and men in sharp suits made their way to work.

The Decisive Moment

Galle Fort Sari

  • Shutter Speed: 1/1000
  • Aperture f/14
  • ISO 1600
  • Lens: 18mm (27mm equivalent)

Due to a lack of cars, I was able to stand in the street which had two advantages:

  1. I was slightly below the woman walking by, which allowed me to shoot up. The upward angle makes her look a little taller and more prominent.
  2. I was able to get a good angle – there was an ugly telephone pole just to the right of the woman and I didn’t want to include it.

As a foreigner standing on the street corner with a camera, I certainly stood out. I did not want my presence to alter the behavior of the people walking by, so as the subjects approached, I’d fidget with my camera and look away until they were where I wanted them to be, then I’d raise my camera and shoot.

With this shot, I timed it so both of her feet were on the ground at the same time, creating a triangle with the feet and body which makes the shot more dynamic. I got a little lucky to frame her between two of the columns on the building, and to catch the sari flowing behind her.

After the Shot – The lady seemed unaware that I took her photo and kept walking. I spent about an hour in this area taking photos, and got several good ones, but this was my favorite for the simplicity and colors.

The Takeaway – Slow down, observe and get the composition right. Even a simple photo of someone walking down the street requires some preplanning to get it right.


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

14 thoughts on “Photo of the Week: Sari in Galle”

  1. Jeff I am loving these posts and particularly love your description of how you got such a great photo. I did a basic photography course recently and it is so interesting for me to know what settings you have used. I have not been practicing much my new acquired skills…need to practice more. Beautiful photo, love the colours and how she is so unware of being photographed😄

    • Thanks Gilda. I started this series in part because of the questions people have asked about the shots. I am happy that you are enjoying it. I took a couple of photo workshops over the last two years and it really helped me, but I need to practice more too!

  2. Great post about capturing that moment; it does take pre-planning and patience, doesn’t it? I love photos of native people in their natural surroundings. It really captures the culture. Beautifully done. 🙂

    • Pre-planning, patience and experimenting too. I shot on this corner for a while until I found what works. Thanks for the comments.

  3. Mechelle Andtews says:

    Jeff, do you keep a log book record of each shot? I can’t imagine how you would remember what you fidotherwise.

    • With digital cameras the camera settings are saved in the file, but back in the day photographers did keep logs on settings when using film. I guess I remember what was going on in my head because it was shot fairly recently and the photo was memorable to me.

  4. I agree with Joanne you work at it. I am forever reverting back to auto settings and really need to buckle down and practice. Your description of how you got the shot is very helpful and of course bravo to the finished product!

  5. She’s lovely and the capture is perfect. Interesting you pointed out both feet on the ground. I hadn’t noticed, but it makes the composition stronger (just as you planned) Stunning!

    • With walking people, I always need to see them take a few steps before I pull trigger so I can get both feet on the ground!

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