In Old Delhi’s market area, close to some temples, there’s a busy trade in marigolds threaded as garlands. In fact, throughout India, these intense orange colours are a relatively common sight, as the threaded flowers are used in pujas and other religious ceremonies.
The flower garlands are a natural target for anyone with a love of rich hues, not least because they make such a contrast with the drab greys, blues, and browns of Indian streets. There are a number of ways of handling this rich colour, and in this instance, it seemed best to make a mass of it, filling the frame as much as possible. This demanded a medium telephoto shot—180mm—to compress the perspective and isolate the flowers.
But flowers alone were not going to make much of an image. To add to the story, the most compelling face was sought out from among the stalls. It belonged to a bearded, turbaned sikh.
The framing was good, with the man on the left and most of the area right of him covered with a mass of marigolds. A slight change of viewpoint, moving to the left, increased the mass of colour by bringing a second mound of flowers into view—slightly out of focus and taking up the lower-left corner. This left the man sandwiched between the orange masses. He was threading and adjusting the garlands, so the final choice of shot depended on moment.
For most of the time, his hands were low and not particularly active, and while the shots taken like this were acceptable (his face and turban contributed greatly to the shot), it was a moment of more exaggerated action that made the final select, as he raised his arm to lift one garland clear of the mass.
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