On March 25th, I returned to Cardiff to shoot more street portraits; this time using a Canon 6D with a 50mm lens and a speed light. The day was particularly sunny which presented issues as I found that the use of flash wasn’t as effective in bright sunlight. To resolve this, I shot almost exclusively in the shade which made the flash more obvious on the subjects.
I took a total of 84 pictures with 29 separate portraits. I think this is the most portraits I’ve shot on a one day shoot so I was happy. However, with shooting more portraits, I also got more rejections which knocked my confidence several times. I stayed in the same spot for most of the day because I had figured out lighting, and I think that it adds more continuity to the series. As well as that, I like the framing the buildings provide for the subjects, and the natural light being apparent in the background.
These are some of my favourite portraits from the day:
I think when the portraits are laid out like this, the framing and positioning of the subjects becomes a lot more effective and they seem like more of a series. Unlike shoots 2 and 3, I didn’t struggle as much with the images being too dark. Generally, I was using an F stop of 11 or 13, along with a shutter speed of 1/125 or 1/160 and an ISO of 250. I used these settings so they were the same as the previous shoots in order to create more continuity to the series. As well as this, I made a special effort to ask people with a wider age gap to add more variety to the series, and to see how styles change depending on the age and generation of the subjects.
I also tried to ask more couples. This was partly because I wanted to shoot one member of the couple specifically, so shooting them both individually and as a pair meant that I didn’t make anyone feel left out. It was also partly because I wanted to see if shooting couples would work within the series, especially as I shot a portrait of two people on shoot 2. These were the results of the couple portraits:
I think some of the couple portraits were more successful than others. I particularly like the bottom 2 portraits, as I think that the flash has worked better in them. Equally, I think the natural position and pose of the subjects is important. I think the relationship in the bottom 2 pictures is more relaxed in comparison to the image of the girl in the purple dress which looks more awkward and uncomfortable. I think this is evident to the audience. For the bottom 2 shots, I used an aperture of 10, an ISO of 250 and a shutter speed of 1/160. I think this worked well at darkening the background slightly while still lightening the subjects and separating them from the background. If I re-shoot, I think I will try and shoot more couples as the results were hit and miss. This may also be because I haven’t shot couples much, so I am less used to it. As well as that, by shooting the couples together and then separately, it gives more of a chance for one of the pictures to be successful.
I also tried to shoot portraits of children to add more variety. On shoot 2, I took a picture of a baby. I think I was too close for that shot, and I made the baby look too big. I was careful not to do this on this shoot, and I tried hard to frame them in the same way as I frame the adult portraits; however, I did drop to their level so I didn’t seem superior to them.
Camera settings: F stop – 13 / ISO – 250 / Shutter speed – 1/160
Camera settings: F stop – 13 / ISO – 250 / Shutter speed – 1/125
I think these have both worked really well, and are much more successful than the original shot of the baby in shoot 2. The only difference in settings between the two pictures is the shutter speed which was changed accidentally. This made the second picture noticeably brighter. This isn’t a big problem as I shot in both RAW and JPEG meaning I can brighten/darken the images if necessary. If I re-shoot, I intend on asking more parents if I can take pictures of the children. I found this more difficult to approach because taking pictures of children is more difficult to get permission for. However, I like the idea of children being in the completed series to show a variety of ages.
The images below were some of my favourite individual portraits of the day:
Image settings: F stop – 11 / ISO – 250 / Shutter speed – 1/125
I like the positioning and framing of this image, as well as the subjects’ direct glare into the camera lens. I think it makes the image more visually interesting. Unusually for me, the subjects’ outfit is relatively plain (there isn’t a lot of colour, patterns etc.). I like the tree on the right hand side of the frame, and I like that the text ‘John Lewis’ is above the subjects’ head as I feel like it automatically draws the viewers’ attention to the top third of the image. If I was to re-shoot this, I would probably position the subject more to the right so that I had some sky in it and the framing of the buildings as I have in a lot of the other portraits. This would improve the continuity, but it would also mean that the street light isn’t as prominent in the image. I feel that the light is quite a distracting element of the picture, especially as it is so close to the subjects’ head.
Image settings: F stop – 11 / ISO – 250 / Shutter speed – 1/160
Although I shot this woman’s portrait with her boyfriend (boyfriend’s individual portrait below), I preferred their individual portraits. I think this may be because they both have key elements to their outfit which make them stand out individually. I also think that the flash worked more effectively on the individual portraits and made the subjects’ stand out more from their backgrounds. As well as this, there is a distinct lack of people in the background of this shot which makes her stand out more. I think that this negative space works really well. The positioning of the subject is better in this image than the first, but I still would’ve preferred it to be more central to the gap in the buildings. Having said that, I am happy with this portrait and I think it was one of the more successful ones of the day.
Image settings: F stop – 13 / ISO – 250 / Shutter speed – 1/160
In comparison to the image of the female subject above, the background of this image is much more cluttered. I think I should’ve moved the subject more to the right, as there is a street light directly above his head which looks slightly like a hat. As far as the people in the background go, there wasn’t much I could do about it as it was such a busy day. I think that the flash has worked really well in this as the subject stands out considerably against the slightly darker background, and it makes the colours on his jacket in particular more contrasting. Although flash is evident anyway, the catch light on the subjects’ sunglasses makes it more prominent (this applies for the image of the girl above too). I quite like this effect.
Overall, I think this shoot was one of the more successful ones for a number of reasons. Firstly, I tried new things such as couple portraits and portraits of children. As well as that, the individual portraits I shot were more successful generally. I think this is partly because I am more confident with my settings, and also because I am more confident in approaching potential subjects. If and when I return to Cardiff to shoot again, I will try and shoot more couple portraits and child portraits as I like the variety it adds to the work .