Street Photography – Shoot 1

On Wednesday 8th February, I travelled to Cardiff to start on the Street Photography brief. I decided on Cardiff as I’m familiar with the area, and I wanted to document how patriotic the residents can be on specific days. Because of this, I intend on re-visiting Cardiff on March 1st, St David’s day, and potentially on March 10th as there is a rugby match being played in the Principality Stadium. The first shoot doesn’t highlight anything particularly patriotic, however it enabled me to figure out the style of portraiture I wanted to achieve for this project as well as allowing me to experiment with camera settings needed to achieve this effect.

I decided I wanted to use fill in flash for full length portraits. This is a similar style to that of Rineke Dijkstra’s portraits. I like how she used a higher aperture to make the background darker, ultimately separating the subject from the background. I used a Canon 6D with a 50mm lens and a speed lite for all of the portraits. Below is a contact sheet of all of the images I took on the day.

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The first image I took (shown below) was arguably my mot successful. I think that the strong back lighting helps to make the subject stand out from the background more, and had I not used fill in flash, the subject would be considerably darker or even silhouetted. I also think that the light reflecting on the wet floor makes the whole scene more dramatic. For this shot, I used an ISO of 200 with an aperture of 9 and a shutter speed of 1/100. I think the aperture makes the background sufficiently darker, again, enabling the subject to ‘pop’ out of the image.

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The 3 images above were all taken using the same settings (ISO 200, aperture 13, shutter speed 1/80). The shutter speed changes between some of the images in the day as I accidentally kept changing it without realising. I like the 3 above images, however I think they could have done with being a little brighter. I think I used the wrong aperture for them. With some of them (shown below) I used an aperture of 9 which turned out too bright. Had I had more time with the subjects I would have tried using an aperture of 11 which may have worked better. Having said that, I think the use of flash works well with these images. As well as that, I shot the 3 portraits in the same location which gives some level of continuity to them and clearly shows that they were taken in Cardiff as this is a significant feature of the city.

As previously mentioned, sometimes my shutter speed was considerably lower than I realised which in some cases caused camera shake, making the portraits I shot blurred and over exposed:

The background in both of the above images were to bright for what I wanted for the style of portraiture. As well as this, they both have camera shake which makes the subject blurred. These were shot with a shutter speed of 1/25. As well as the camera shake and brightness, I think the use of fill in flash was a lot less effective at making the subjects stand out from their backgrounds. When I return to Cardiff to re-shoot, I will ensure that my camera is on the correct settings before approaching a potential subject to eliminate the chance of an interesting portrait being ruined by camera shake.

I think these portraits were both successful and I think that they work well together because of the colours both subjects were wearing. Similarly to some of the others, I think the images would be better if they were a little brighter (if I’d used a slightly lower aperture for example as these were shot with F13/14). However hopefully I can edit this during post production. I also think that the fill in flash worked better on the subject with the beard as he is more obviously separated from the darker background. This may be because of the lighter clothing he is wearing, particularly on his bottom half.

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These were the only other portraits I took of women on the day. I think the image of the woman in the brightly coloured dress works better as the fill in flash made her stad out from the background more. As well as this, it was shot earlier in the day when it was more overcast. I used an aperture of 9 for this shot which later on in the day made my portraits brighter than I wanted them to be. I like how there are hot spots on her boots and face indicating that flash has been used. In comparison, the image of the woman wearing a hat is less successful as there was slight camera shake. This, again was due to my clumsy accidental change in shutter speed, meaning this image was shot with a shutter speed of 1/30, so the subject is not sharp. This is annoying as I liked the colour scheme of her outfit, and I think the tan brown bag would work well with other images which include the same colour in parts of the subjects’ outfits.

The final image I took of the day was of a couple. I hadn’t intended on taking portraits of more than one person at a time. However I thought that both subjects were interesting on their own, and even more interesting as a duo.

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For this image I used an F stop of 13. I think this was too high as the lighting had changed again as this was late afternoon. I would have liked the background to be a bit brighter, however I think this can be edited during post production. I think the use of fill in flash worked well in this shot, as had it not been used at all the subjects would have been extremely underexposed. If I had the chance to re-shoot this image, I would also stand further back as they are too close to the camera, especially in comparison to all of the other portraits I took on that day.

To conclude, I think this shoot was relatively successful (more so than  I had expected). I like the style that I was able to achieve with use of fill in flash and so in future shoots I will continue to do this.

When I return to Cardiff on March 1st, I am hoping to catch the more patriotic side of the city as they celebrate St. David’s day. I’d like to get portraits of children in traditional Welsh costumes and adults in rugby shirts etc. I am hoping that I will be more successful with the technical side of photography too. I may take both a flash and a ring light to see which is more effective at lighting and separating the subject from the background.

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