In my original brief I stated that I wanted to present a story that made a true documentation of the night life in Cheltenham, targeted at students. I wanted to focus on presenting facts, and clear narratives of what happens on different nights, and areas of the town.

Through my photographs, I wanted to show that beyond all the hype of the town, the surrounding streets are quiet and have an absence of people throughout the night, which can cause crime and a feeling of uncertainty to the students. I wanted my image to have character, to make people think of Cheltenham, whilst suggesting that a human presence uses the area, just not in the night time.

When shooting the photograph’s, I used a tripod, Canon 1200d and a shutter release cable. I had problems when I first began photographing I had to ensure I had a high quality tripod which wouldn’t shake at all in the wind due to the exposures being over 30 seconds long, any slight movement was noticeable. I also began shooting on my Sony a7, which is a full frame camera so would allow me to get wider shots, but unfortunately this didn’t support my shutter release cable, which I why I used my Canon. The weather conditions were my biggest battle whilst shooting, as the slightest bit of rain would show up on the lens as the long exposure picked it up, and the wind had to be minimal, which was often difficult to get in November, although we did have a clear two weeks when I did a lot of shooting.

I feel that contact sheets helped me a lot through this project, as I could look at all the settings I was using, to allow me to pick up on what went right and wrong, as night time photography was a new thing for me. It also let me see what kind of compositions were working, alone and in a series, as it was important that the frames were strong in terms of narrative, and that the images would flow. I took a lot of images through this project, which I spent a lot of time on as they were all long exposures, and although I have a lot of wasted images, I feel it was necessary for the progression of the work.

Towards the end of my project, particularly in my last shoot, I really found what kind of frames I needed to shoot. I had minimal wasted shots, and some of my strongest frames, which I am pleased with as it really shows the progression of my work from the beginning.

When editing, dealing with the clarity, highlights and shadows were the most important. Boosting the clarity slightly allowed all the details to stand out in the frame, whilst I could balance the lights in the image, and the shadowing’s hiding in things like bushes, but using the other tools. I also really enjoyed working with the colours in the frames, asking myself which colours worked to present a type of emotion or aesthetic quality that ran through the series of images.

Picking my final 20 images wasn’t too difficult for me, as I could easily see the quality of my photographs rising throughout the project, so I could pick the best frames that worked together. The only problems I dealt with were choosing whether to put the wide angle landscape photographs in, but I chose to as I feel they presented Cheltenham to enhance the narrative and create a sense of location, compared to the other images which were more ambiguous frames.

In my final 10 images I took out the wide angle landscape images, as I feel they are only appropriate to follow through with the narrative, complementing the quotes. I picked the 10 images to create their own smaller story, presenting empty streets that naturally make the viewer feel on edge, but not purposely shooting them in a negative manner. I feel the frames of gardens are effective as this is a scene that many students and youths will experience and recognise, in terms of using it as social space and leaving behind the remains before they go in to town. This makes the images more relatable to my target audience.

When adding the quotes, I wanted them to be true feelings of students that had already lived here for a year or more, and have had chance to experience the town. I chose not to use current first years as they have only been here for a few months. I wanted a balance of girls and boys, as naturally most girls feel more vulnerable at night, which presents a one sided representation. Getting a quote from the Street pastors was really helpful as it provided a professional point of view of the town, which makes it more credible. Although the quotes on the whole are negative, my aim was to present a true narrative; and if this is what people want to say, then I must be true to the narrative. I added captions from the Gloucestershire Police to further build the narrative of the crime at night.

There was a safety element with me taking pictures outside in the dark, which I have included in my risk assessment. But altogether I mostly felt safe, as I always had my car with me so I could get away from situations, and made sure I didn’t take pictures in dangerous areas, even if there was a good shot there, I put my safety first.

I am pleased with how my photographs reflect my brief. They do not show any direct negative points, and leave a lot open to interpretation. I think this is important because being safe at night, and the streets are what you make of them, when you make the decisions of where to go and how you travel at night. The quotes in the PowerPoint are powerful because they really contextualise the area, with direct opinions and stories. Although I do feel they are slightly too negative, it was my choice to put the quotes with the images to provide a true story, and this is what they do.


90 second Video

In my 90 second video I was presenting a story on the Frog and Fiddle pub, on the lower high street. I chose the Frog because it is a student hub, with a mix of cultures and activities that take place here.

I feel that I presented the true nature of the frog through my film, and it is a very relaxed scene with a big variation of people. I Chose to interview an older man, and younger man, which alludes to the varied ages of people that attend the frog, and two staff members, as the video was 90 seconds long I couldn’t interview anymore people without overrunning the audio. I used a Sony a7, a tripod, an off camera microphone, a rode microphone, and a light box in my filming.

The staff interviews went really well, as they both genuinely liked working there. As with all my videos here, the lighting was an issue because the lighting is very limited in there, and has a very orange glow. I did the staff interviews in the upstairs of the barn where the mixing decks are, and had one bright static light on the subject to make sure they were lit properly. As they were sat down doing their interviews, I had the separate microphone below them, by the hands so it was close to them, but not in the way of the camera, but this caused an issue when they rubbed or moved their hands nervously. Also due to nerves, they turned on the spinney chair quite a bit, so in reflection it would’ve been better to have them on a static chair or stood up, but they did look comfortable in the environment which puts the viewer at ease. I had a problem with the second staff member speaking as he had a very quiet voice compared to the others, which I then had to raise on the video to try and balance out the tones.

Although I had my separate microphone on recording the interviews, I had a rode microphone plugged in to the camera, which I hadn’t turned on, which meant I didn’t pick up any sound from the camera. This meant I didn’t have any ambient noise, which I had to go back and record at a later date. But it did cause a problem when putting the film together, as I had to match up the separate audio to the film, and I had no audio to match it to, so I had to figure out the movement of his mouth to match the audio.

I got a lot of access at the frog, as Harry, the on duty manager, allowed me to go anywhere I wanted in the frog, alone and with the staff members. Also due to the relaxed nature of the people who drink at the frog, all the people were happy to let me film them and be in the pub with the camera.

In my first edit, I made the video straight away and tried to include all 4 interviews within the 90 seconds, with overview shots. I had finished the edit, and watched it all the way through, but it looked very crammed and chaotic. I decided to leave it for a few days and relook at my work, which was the best thing to do as when I went back I could objectively look at the footage. I sat and named all of the files so I knew what I was working with, and decide which elements could be included and where. I am pleased at how the video now flows, with no ‘rush’ to it, but still includes facts and represents the happy atmosphere of the pub.

I am pleased at the different vantage points I filmed from, getting unusual angles whilst draws the viewers’ attention in. I tried to find audio that matched the vibe of the frog, which is almost rock/indie. I found this on a licence free website, and downloaded a tracked which played throughout the video. Ideally, I would’ve used a clip of a gig at the frog, which is one of the main attractions for it, but due to the limited file length I couldn’t include this, which is why I chose to add the music to present this. I used the markers on Premier Pro, which I made the video on, to create a variant in the volume of the music whilst people spoke.

I am pleased I got to add a section of a social in the frog, as it shows the student atmosphere that can be there in comparison to the normal relaxed atmosphere.

Altogether I really like the video, as I feel it presents the warm nature of the frog. The interviews are strong and the narrative flows, in terms of the people involved, what the frog is and what is it used for. The only thing I feel I struggled with is balancing the audios to the overview shots in the final edit, to get the information in whilst ensuring it didn’t look to rushed. But I learnt a lot through making this video, and am pleased with my final outcome.


Final 10

In my final 10 prints I wanted them too all compliment each other in terms of aesthetic values, but present different scenes which suggest a story of people through the night. I am pleased with how they all have a slightly chilled feeling to them, all presenting the same emotion, like you are unaware of what could be around them. Not one image contains a person, but implies that people where there possibly earlier in the night, or people will be there.

Making the Powerpoint


I am planning to add more text pages to the PowerPoint to develop the narrative further, and balance out the text to picture proportions. At current, although not noted, all of the interviews are from women, which may influence the response. I need to get quotes from male students, to develop the story further.

I mainly focused on ensuring all the images were the same size on each page, which will allow the PowerPoint to flow throughout and complement each other, putting the focus on the images. I mainly ordered them in colour and context, to make sure they showed a narrative, and didn’t look repetitive next to each other.

When creating my final edit, I decided to change the image on the left, to the leaves image (8). I chose to do this because although I feel the house is a stronger image, it was too similar to the images shown on the right (below) because of the alignment and colour of the windows, which made the edit of 20 images look repetitive. I chose to add the leaves image, as it suggests a sense of being outside at night, with a small light source to protect you. It complements the green which occurs in many of the photos, and is a sharp photo which the contrasts capturing the viewers attention. It enhances the lack of people as it provides an alternate vantage point, which alludes to a person being alone, looking around to check every angle around them for safety, looking at the nearest light.



Cheltenham is often spoke about for its night life in the center of town and the surrounding areas are overlooked. The streets become quiet, and often put intoxicated students at risk. Through my images, I aim to present the absence of people in these areas, and how their remains are left.

These images show the crime rates in Cheltenham. Although the majority of the crime rates are in the centre of town, many lay on the surrounding roads, particularly around the university. Many of the crimes are in the ‘Violent and sexual offences’ and ‘Anti Social Behaviour’.

Whilst Cheltenham does have the ‘Cheltenham street pastors’, they do not work on student nights, only weekends. This lowers the safety in the quiet streets whilst students are returning from their nights out. Cheltenham is currently putting money in to street lights and extra cameras to try and reduce these rates.

I decided to get interviews from several students that have been in uni for one or more year already, so they understand the nature of the town. I am only using students as this is who it is directed at, and they may have a different understanding of the town to those who are not at university here. The key things I asked them to address was:

  • How safe do you feel when you leave the centre of town at night
  • How does the centre differentiate from the surrounding streets

Anonymous – As a young female, I do not feel safe walking alone in the surrounding areas of Cheltenham at night. As soon as you leave the town, if you are alone I feel like you are immediately vulnerable. I have heard a lot of stories of crime and attacks in this area since living here.

Kath – Compared to where I live, I do not feel safe walking into town. After a drunk man stopped me in town and warned me not to walk home alone I’ve always got into a taxi since. A couple of my female friends have had scary experiences near the university which I feel should be addressed more by the university and put more safety measures in place.

Laura – I feel the surrounding areas of town are slightly unsafe compared to where I live back at home. Although I do still venture out on my own when it’s dark walking to the gym I am always vigilant and feel a little intimidated in the less well lit areas. I often see groups of people just stood outside their houses watching passers by and also hear cars speeding up and down the main road.

Cheltenham Street pastors- Having recently achieved the purple flag status, Cheltenham has been recognised as a safe town for both residents and revellers. At weekends, Cheltenham Street Pastors are available to ensure people are taken safely home, either on foot or accompanied to the taxi rank. Our priority is to help the vulnerable through listening, caring and helping.

We patrol down alleyways where on many occasions there have been folk in need of help who otherwise might have be alone all night and not getting the medical attention they require.

The street pastors patrol 10pm to 4am and they are reliable team who care for the community and keen to help, whether it be handing out water, administering first aid or to simply just  listen to those who want to talk to someone.

Tom – It’s quite clear that Cheltenham has a very large problem with crime related to the night time economy, large groups or individuals lurking in its many alleyways which make me feel very uncomfortable for example I never walk with headphones in at night for he feeling of someone walking up behind me. 

Jamie – I am a 20 year old male living in cheltenham and I work late in to the night/ into the early hours of the morning. At work I am surrounded by drunken students and for part of the way home I get confronted by those same drunken students. As I get to the lower High Street during the night, the atmosphere gets much more tense. I feel intimidated and vulnerable. I feel as though Cheltenham has two halves; the upper High street and the Lower High street. The upper High Street always feels safe because it is well lit and always busy. However, the Lower high street makes me very wary, as there are a lot of homeless alcoholics and ‘stabby’ people. It is also not very well lit.







Previous articles

Lots of Domino’s, great nightlife and we feel safe: What new students really think of Cheltenham
Read more at http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/lots-of-domino-s-great-nightlife-and-we-feel-safe-what-new-students-really-think-of-cheltenham/story-29739720-detail/story.html#tQk6bsdyWbkuPQ0w.99

Whilst I was researching previous articles on Cheltenham night life, I found an article from September 2016 which claims to present what students really think of the night life. The article is so brief it hardly provides an opinions, and may be biased to draw people in to coming to the town.

I dont feel this is a true, or dedicated response to the night life. It doesn’t present any facts, suggestions of where to go, or the safety aspects, as the title would suggest. This has encouraged me to present a true documentation of the night life, for all its highlights and flaws.

It needs to display how people really feel about the surroundings of town, to complement the videos of people saying why the enjoy the night life of the town, of the Frog & social nights on a Wednesday.

Risk assessment


Hazard What is involved Probability Controlling the Risk
Being in the dark Being approached by strangers M Take someone with you. Do not talk to strangers unless it is in a genuine nature.
Being in the dark Hurting myself L Ensure phone is fully charged. Have someone with you. Be in a public place, people around you.
Being in the dark Getting kit stolen L Take minimal valuables with you. Do not leave any kit out of sight. Have insurance on all kit.
Rain Camera/equipment getting wet M Take umbrella/kit cover, ensure there is a dry area nearby.
Flash Scaring people, epileptic fit S Do not flash directly towards people.
Drunken people whilst filming in pubs/clubs Abuse S Be polite, let people know what I am doing. Do not react, leave the scene.
Filming in pubs/clubs Kit getting damaged M Take minimal kit, ensure there is enough space to film/ take pictures

Risk Assessment

Hazard: What are the risks of me completing the action.

Probability: L – Low risk         M – Medium risk H – High risk

Control: What action will be taken to control the risk


Final 20 images

I was advised to take the two wide landscape photographs out of the edit, one of the University and one of another vantage point away from the University. But as the target audience for the project is students, I feel like they contextualise the area. It would be very easy to look at these images and place them anywhere in the UK, as the architecture is often very similar. But these two frames provide a sense of comfort in the images, showing a local landmark that is easily recognisable.

The rest of the images provide a sense of change throughout the night, the suggestion that people may be there, but inside, not occupying the surrounding areas to town. My favourite part of the project is the different line work that has been used, as I feel in the dark the lines are the key to separating the different areas, such as a roof to the sky.