AD4803 Street – Cheltenham portraits

On Monday 20th February we were sent into Cheltenham for our lesson to shoot the same style of street photography that we intend on shooting on our chosen locations. This task was set so we could figure out settings and build our confidence to talk to people (if that is necessary in your street project, which it was for mine). For this shoot, I used a Canon 70D with a 50mm macro lens as there were no normal 50mm lenses left in the store. This made taking full length portraits more difficult as I had to stand further away from my subjects. I was also concerned that the flash would be less effective if I was stood further away from them. However I don’t think the images were as bad as I had expected them to be using this zoomed in lens.

It took me a while to gain the confidence to ask people for their portraits and I didn’t take many pictures because my confidence was lacking. To begin with, I was with a large group of my fellow students. This gave me a good opportunity to figure out my settings before approaching strangers.

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This is Anna who is on the same course as me. She was wearing fairly bright colours which was beneficial to me working out which aperture I should be using in the overcast lighting we had. The vibrant colour of her top helped me to see which background/aperture worked better and helped to separate the subject from the background.

I accidentally stumbled across a different style of street photography that I like. I think this may be used in a different project as it doesn’t require me approaching people which  I find the most difficult part.

Once I’d finally gained confidence, I asked this interesting lady for her portrait:


I think the background of this photograph was a little too dark as I used an aperture of 8 but there was a building that could have been blocking out potential light. Having said that, I think the flash bounced well off her white and pink jacket and blue bag. I was also pleasantly surprised that the flash did not white out her glasses. If I was re-shooting, I would try to use a slightly lower aperture or higher ISO (this was shot with 100 ISO). This would have brightened the background slightly. I would also have stood a little closer to her to give less negative space. However this can be edited during post production.

The second portrait I took was of a man who had seen me take a picture of the woman above. He seemed interested in what I was doing and the camera I was using so I took the opportunity to ask him for his portrait too.


I think the exposure of the background in this image is better than that of the first. This is probably because I had seen that the previous image was too dark and so I corrected it. I shot this with an aperture of 7.1. Similarly to the aperture, I stood slightly closer to the subject for this picture so I had less negative space around him, making the image solely about him and not his surroundings.  I like the look of the subject appearing to be contrasting and almost separate from the background. I think this image does that effectively. I also like the pose of the subject as he looks confident in the space.


This picture was taken with an aperture of 8, but unlike the first image there were no buildings taking up the natural, overcast lighting. I think the flash worked well in this image as the colours on both his top and the bag he is holding are vibrant and contrast the dull background which is considerably more monochrome. I like that the subject is younger than the others as it adds more variety in my portraiture.

Next I took a portrait of a subject using 2 different apertures, but neither were successful:

Although I prefer the first image, one is underexposed and the other is overexposed. I am disappointed with this, however I know why they didn’t work. The first image was shot with an aperture of 9 and the second used an aperture of 7.1. If I re-shot I would try an aperture of 8 as this is the middle ground so it should have been exposed correctly. I wasn’t able to do this as I didn’t want to take up any more of the subjects’ time.

Finally an opportunity presented itself that I had to capture:

img_9149 I like the vibrancy of the colours in this picture and again I think that the flash really increases the contrast and makes it more obvious. I like how the subjects ‘pop’ in the mundane and drab looking background. I would have preferred to get portraits of the two subjects, however they walked away before I had a chance to ask.

To conclude, I think this shoot went a lot better than I had expected to, and I have further established the style that I want to shoot. I feel more prepared to return to Cardiff on March 1st and shoot more portraiture. I may also try shooting from the hip again to capture images similar to the first ones shown in this post.


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