Off-camera Flash Day at The Manor

With spring now well and truly in the air with longer days and milder weather, its at this time of year when I wind down my studio lighting workshops and concentrate more on off-camera flash.

To get the off camera flash season off to a good start we headed out to the nearby Parkanaur Manor House with a great group of 6 photographers. As is normal for this location we had exclusive use of it for the day, both inside and the external grounds.

Following a meet up by all photographers at the studio we had a brief introduction to each other and to our model for the day, Nikita. Then while Nikita was having finishing touches to her hair styling and makeup, we (the photographers) proceeded out to Parkanaur Manor. We enjoyed a warm welcome by Marlene who is Parkanaur Manager and who had kindly set up tea and coffee for everyone.

We used this time to have a walk around the Manor House and surrounding grounds as a group and identify potential locations for the day ahead.

This was the first off-camera flash workshop where I decided to use the Lencarta Atom flash system. I previously blogged about this flash system here. I really can’t say enough good things about this system and I was excited and delighted to be showing it to the attending photographers. Each one of them were suitably impressed and several left with the immediate intention to purchase for themselves.

Thanks to these people:

Model  – Nikita Tully

Makeup – Catherine Fleming MUA

Hair styling – Christopher Kirk

Parkanaur Manor Manager – Marlene


Here’s some photos and discussion from the day.


Parkanaur’s deeply historical interior has one grand room after another, each with their own individual style and features. It can almost be overwhelming and daunting to know where to start. Start we did though, and here it was in the Library. I deliberately start here when at Parkanaur. The reason for this is two fold. Firstly it allows for great natural light photography which gives all photographers a chance to get their camera in hand and get ‘warmed up’ while they wait for their turn with the flash trigger. Secondly its because of the abundant natural light which makes it great to show how to overpower the natural light and replace it with more directional light from the flash.

From the Library we moved the short distance into what I refer to as the panelled hall.


This to me is one of the greatest rooms at Parkanaur, or more of a great hall in fact. I’m always torn what photo techniques to employ in this room. Like the Library it has a plentiful supply of good natural light coming in via higher level windows. You can’t help but feel inspired when standing in the middle of this hall/room.

In the photo above we asked Nikita our model to take up pose on this stool we’d borrowed from the piano room. We started off with one off camera flash here to camera right, and later I suggested adding a second flash. After a discussion on a few suggestions for placement of a second flash the photographers collectively opted to use it as a background light on the panelling as shown above. The angle of the back light highlighted the vertical lines of the panelling.

photo 1-2

Here’s a quick iPhone capture of behind the scenes in the Library as the photographers found their settings etc.


Staying in this great panelled hall we turned 180 degrees and moved to its entrance leading into the piano room. Here there are 3 feature wooden columns supporting the gallery where the organ is located. We asked Nikita to position herself to use one of these columns and she then gave us several of her wonderful poses and moods to make it complete. The location of this photo was deliberate and we discussed window light relating to off camera flash. Black and white was a personal choice of mine for this one and many photographers came away with great looking colour images too.



Another short move into the piano room for the next setup. The sun darted in and out of cloud here creating two entirely different looks. Where possible it was good to use the direct hard sunlight coming into the room as a feature of the photo with it being most noticeable on Nikita’s hair and on the floor.



I always like to keep one of my ‘finding the right natural light exposure’ shots as a before and after flash (above) for the propose of being used here in my blog. It only takes the smallest amount of flash to be added for this.



This was our next setup. Great styling and powerful pose from Nikita 🙂

With the Lencarta off camera flash system working the same, regardless of whether the photographers were using Canon or Nikon it meant everything moved along very speedily. With two flash triggers we were getting through many more setups in a lot less time.


D3S_4351Another before and after flash.


This was our last setup of the morning before everyone enjoyed lunch in the Library.


After Lunch we moved across the house into the stunning Drawing Room. This room has many features including a huge floor to ceiling mirror, a great fireplace and the biggest bay window in the Manor. Here though we used one of the wall panels and demonstrated shape and control of off camera flash.

D3S_4401aThis montage shows the thought process. The photo on the top left shows one of the wall panels with our chosen exposure. These panels are quite large within the room reaching up towards the high ceiling. They are wallpapered and have a gold wooden moulding around them.

The second photo top right shows the same panel at the chosen exposure with the flash added to create a deliberate vignette with the intention of using it as an important part of the composition.

The final bottom photo on the montage shows the final part of the process in adding Nikita to the scene. This is the colour version of the photo I decided to go black and white on above.

With everyone agreed we then moved outdoors for the rest of the afternoon.

D3S_4418This was one of our first outdoor setups.


Another quick change by Nikita and we moved across the front of the Manor House. This is the outside window of the Piano Room.


We finished the day where we started with this doorway being at the bottom corner of the back car park. This was a location I’d never used before and I only spotted it as we parked our cars on arrival in the morning.

If you would like to attend an off-camera flash workshop like this one, or any others on offer please see all the details here. We use a selection of high quality locations as well as our own studio and surrounding areas. We are conveniently located just 2 minutes by car off junction 15 off the M1, and mid-point 35 minutes from both Belfast and Enniskillen.

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