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.