Off Camera Flash Creative Workshop Day at Parkanaur Manor

Last Sunday I had arranged a full day workshop based on the creative use of off camera flash. For our location, once again we availed of the fantastic venue of Parkanaur Manor House and Estate. Our group consisted of six photographers, a model, hair stylist, makeup artist, and myself.

Following a 9.45am meet up at the studio for the attending photographers, we all left as a group to travel the short ten minute drive to Parkanaur Manor, where I had prearranged to have full use exclusively of the house for the day. We left behind for now in the studio, Ruta our model, hair stylist Chirstopher, and makeup artist Catherine. They agreed to follow us along to the manor a little later when hair and makeup was complete.

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Christopher putting the finishing touches to our model, Ruta’s hair.


During the short time between the photographers and I arriving to the Manor and Ruta arriving, I used the time to take the group of photographers for a quick tour of the house and immediate grounds suggesting possible locations for off camera flash setups as we went, and why we would consider such locations based on light, room features etc.


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The library is one of my favourite rooms in the Manor, and this wall in particular appeals to me. I’ve used it before a few times though I try to do something a little different each time.
I use this as a starting location because it demonstrates very well a lot of the key aspects of off camera flash. Also it is a spot where the natural light is very good, and this gives all the photographers a chance to get warmed up by taking natural light shots while someone else has their turn with the flash trigger.


At this point I will say that this blog contains a lot of behind the scenes photos. These were all captured on Catherine’s iPhone. Indicative of it being an off camera flash day, we found ourselves in some very dark areas of the Manor which lent themselves very well to the use of flash. However this wasn’t the case for iPhone photos so I apologise for what may seem poor quality behind the scenes photos.

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A broader room view of our starting point for the day.


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And this was the view our model Ruta had most of the day!


A big added bonus of using Parkanaur Manor House as a location is that we have use of the interior if it rains, and did it rain or what! While we held out hope that it would stop raining at some point in the day, we were happy enough in the meantime to work around the many locations the house had to offer.


So staying inside and dry we moved to the piano and the feature panelled window behind. This was the perfect setting to balance interior speed light flash with outdoor natural light. There were other areas of interest here too which were pointed out, such as the high gloss on the piano  which allowed for reflections in the composition.


I never captured anything useable from this setup for myself, instead having a few setup shots. This photo is by Caroline Smyth Photography and thank you to her for permitting the use of this photo in my blog. It looks great Caroline!


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This is me, sitting down on the job! No flashes in place yet so setting an ambient light exposure to work from.


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This is pretty much what I was getting while sitting in the sofa in the photo above. Certainly in need of some flash to make anything work, but a good level of exposure outside the window.


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This was one of my setup photos with flash in place, though not a useable photo. I didn’t work to pose Ruta in any way because it was just setting up the flash at this stage.

As the rain persisted we all agreed that an early lunch was in order in the hope that the rain might ease in the afternoon.


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Even lunch couldn’t escape the reach of Catherine’s iPhone!


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With no letup in the rain we moved into the main function room at Parkanaur Manor. This room in particular is rich in features and we could have spent the entire day in it with its dark wood high level panelling, feature stone fireplace, balconies etc.


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As can be seen from the photo above we chose to place a very stylish chair in the middle of the floor in this great big room. The photo on the left shows the ambient light only exposure, and the one on the right has Ruta and two flash addd.
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The view from the photographers end of the room.


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And the view from Ruta’s end of the room.


Rain, rain and more rain left us with no option but move internally again to one of many more great locations within the Manor House.


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This is probably the biggest of the many bay type panelled windows within the house. This was picked as a location because it was a very strongly backlit scene, always tricky to balance with flash.


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At this stage everyone was really starting to use their own settings and creating their own shots. I think each photographer ended up with something different here.
This was mine which was grabbed quite quickly. The photographers did much better than I did 🙂


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As can be seen through the window the rain continued well into the afternoon. This gave us the chance to get creative with the flash and use colour temperature/white balance settings with gelled flash combinations to create contemporary cool blue tones in the natural light, and also the opposite, to create golden natural light while maintaining neutral skin tones on Ruta.


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The weather decided to play one last trick on us by stopping raining for a short time, only to return heavier than ever before we could get anything worthwhile set up outdoors. We didn’t let it spoil what was an otherwise great day, and all the photographers agreed that they preferred the indoor locations more and found them more useful than outdoors.

If you are interested in either studio lighting or off camera location workshops then please get in touch here.

From one to one sessions, to group workshops, full details of all photography workshops can be found here.

A big thank you to the photographers who attended, also to parkanaur Manor House for the kind use of their house and grounds, to our dedicated and patient model, Ruta, makeup by Catherine Fleming makeup and hair styling by Christopher.


















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3 Responses
  1. Great review of the day & thanks again for using one of my images of Ruta for the blog. Catherine was very sneaky with all those behind the scene shots.
    Would definately recommend this workshop to other photographers – amateur or professional

  2. Thanks Nigel for a great day at Parkanaur. I really enjoyed it and as ever the tuition given by ou was excellent. I know I and I’m sure all the others attending learned a lot. I would thoroughly recommend this and any of the other training provided by Nigel to anyone wanting to increase their photography skills. Great day, great training and great crac!!!

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