On the streets with Colleen Deary and a Speedlight

May 3, 2012 | Flash, Location | 15 comments

1. Colour balance shifting in camera and a CTO gel on my 580EX2 gave this image a vibrant feel. The 'Saturday Night Fever' pose was all Colleen. Brilliant!.

On Monday, I was fortunate enough to spend time with a new 1:1 client that I had first met at the Hertfordshire Photovision roadshow last week. We started our training day at my Somerset studio with a revision session on balancing flash with ambient exposure. I then set out my core strategy for my all manual exposure system.

2. We started with a zoomed bare faced 580EX2 Speedlight triggered with an Ebay manual trigger system.

With a Speedlight, a Lovegrove Flash Bracket, a Lastolite stand and some cameras we journeyed to Bristol in my 350Z. We were due to meet Colleen at Costa Coffee at 11.15 for a creative shoot session around the Bristol Waterfront. The rain eased and the sun popped out from time to time to make the shoot challenging.


We immersed ourselves all day in picture making. This has to be the best job in the world. A photographers life right now is a magical one. It’s not easy to be successful but with the right skills applied sensibly enough income can be earned to pay the bills and more besides. The creative rewards and dynamic lifestyle are amazing.

4. We just used a bare faced Speedlight for this sequence of shots.

5. These colours are 70's reborn. Morris Marinas came in shades like this.

6. I love the gathered waist and A line skirt of this dress. The simple scoop neckline adds a classic feel contrasted with Colleen's edgy hair style. Magic!


8. Exposure aides were screaming at us but we held on to what I knew would deliver zingy results.

9. At my favourite blue wall we did a flash/ambient exposure control exercise over 6 stops.

10. I then showed how to shift shadows. Throughout the session we were exploring composition, balance and design.

11. My grey zone became our studio for five minutes as we created high key shots in a dark place.


13. Simple fashion styling shot in camera.




17. Rapport, respect and trust deliver results that connect.


19. We joked about 'devil woman' but I love this shot taken just before we had lunch at the Pitcher and Piano.

20. Colleen can strike a pose and her classical training in dance shows here.

21. I love, love, love shooting in full sun.

22. We worked this area hard. A fusion of effort and commitment from everyone delivered striking portraits.

23. I felt like a student again lying on the pavement outside a night club. Haha.

24. Shapes excite me.


26. Just how much negative space can a shot take?

27. Beautiful.


29. The sun went in and I rigged a Speedlight to simulate a setting sun in our temporarily grey world.



32. I'm in this shot.

33. We then turned the world blue for a few frames.



36. A low composition with shallow diagonals.

37. A high composition with steep diagonals.

38. I needed to change the batteries in the Speedlight as it had worked hard and we went on to use the 580EX2 at full power for this shot.


There you have it. A 1 to 1 session that re energised my passion for the Speedlight and brought me my first shoot with the amazing Colleen Deary represented by Shoot DHS models. I want to shoot with Colleen again soon and I’d like my team including the fab Vicki Waghorn to be part of the session.If you would like to unleash the potential of your Speedlight or indeed fine tune your shooting system please do contact Blaise my PA. Blaise can work miracles and make things happen.

Please feel free to comment on these shots.


  1. Mike

    Would you be kind enough to give me your kelvin setting in camera,for the blue effect,i take it you then used a cto gel on your flash to light the model.

    • damien

      Hi Mike,

      Every camera is different and with the Fuji, I just look at the screen on the back as I adjust it and choose the look I want. It could have been around 3400k Something like that.


    • damien

      Thanks Bowerbird.

  2. Daren King

    Damien, what great images.. seeing you were using the canon flash..was this with the Fuji, or were you staying with your Canon?? It was funny about the morris marina, and picture 9. My mum and dad had a marina estate in that Blue, and friends of ours had that dodgy orange (although it looks fab as a dress!).

    • damien

      Hi Darren,

      I was shooting Canon on this shoot as it was a 1:1 shoot session with a Canon shooting client. I’ve been shooting Fuji ever since ;)

      Kind regards,


  3. Thorsten

    Fantastic as usual Damien! Any photographer out there that say they can’t take the right photographs because they don’t have enough kit needs to see this. I’m pretty sure most photographers have at least one Speedlite/Speedlight in their kit but they’re probably afraid to use it like this because it goes against everything most text books say about using a single small light source. Nice work!

    • damien

      Thanks Thorsten,

      Some of my best work has been sucessful because I kept it simple. Keep shooting and stay inspired.

      Cheers, Damien.

  4. Mike

    Thanks for posting these damien
    Excellent,set of images.
    Has given me the will,to get out there and get shooting again.
    Think its time for me to experiment a little with the colour balance and gels,on the speedlites.
    Just need to find someone willing.
    Beautifull images.

    • damien

      Thanks Mike,

      Yes it’s time to get out and start shooting. Good luck finding victims – I mean models :)

      Thanks for your compliments, Damien.

  5. david cooke

    I had no idea you were a fashion expert Damien.
    ( I love the gathered waist and A line skirt of this dress. The simple scoop neckline adds a classic feel contrasted with Colleen’s edgy hair style. Magic!} Your knowledge has no boundaries :-)

    joking apart I love the way you have achieved remarkable results with a bare flash, this is what we are told not to do !!!! diffuse it they shout, but heck this looks brilliant.

    • damien

      Hi David,

      As you know, I love hard light and anyway the Speedlight soon runs out of puff when diffused. Thanks for you compliments on my styling :)

      Cheers, Damien.

  6. rjbradbury

    Great set Damien

    Love number 2, the framing element of the diamond shape and the lines that lead to the and follow the delivered shadow. Great work.


    • damien

      Thanks Rick and Andrew :)


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