Urban Portraits workshop in Bristol ~ Charlotte Roest-Ellis & X-Pro1

May 16, 2012 | Flash, Location | 10 comments

01. I lit Charlotte with a single bare faced Speedlight. Shot using the fantastic 60mm f/2.4 lens on my Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera.

This was my first street workshop with Charlotte and the first street workshop with my Fuji X-Pro1 kit. To be quite honest both performed remarkably well. Haha. Charlotte put up with the rain and was as delightful as ever throughout the day. When I’m teaching I like to work with models who are kind, patient and gorgeous too. Here are 20 of my shots from this challenging but rewarding workshop…

02. I used the 18mm lens and a single Speedlight triggered in manual mode to capture these two frames of Charlotte. I encourage my delegates to shoot from different angles and to really explore the opportunities open to them.

03. More of our work was lit with a Speedlight than usual on this workshop because the light was particularly flat and the rain showers were frequent. I have various locations on my route that can be used in wet conditions and allow us to stay dry like under this canopy in front of a vacant office building.

04. Another dry zone shot this time taken with available light. 60mm lens at f/2.8, X-Pro1.

05. I showed the delegates how to easily set the ambient exposure and the contrast ratio as desired. I used a four stop shadow depth for this shot. 18mm lens, X-Pro1.

06. A simple closeup shot with a two stop shadow depth. 60mm lens, X-Pro1.

07. We took shelter from the rain in this entrance to an underground car park. 35mm lens, X-Pro1.

08. We set out to shoot the available light in such a way as it looked vaguely sunny when in fact it was dark and dingy. 60mm lens at f/2.4.

09. We spent time playing with reflections too. 60mm lens at f/2.8

10. I love the grey paint and the drain pipe in this shot lit with a barefaced Speedlight. 35mm lens.

11. Here is the same scene with the 18mm lens and a low view point. You can see we were in the dry bit for the shoot.

12. I showed how to shoot fashionable portraits with stormy skies and a Speedlight. My one Speedlight was used bare faced all day and triggered with simple Ebay radio triggers. I base this workshop on the use of simple kit in a creative way. I teach my systems of working in a manner that is easy to remember and to reproduce. 60mm lens.

13. I particularly like including the world around us too. The dark and low contrast scene makes a great background. 60mm lens.

14. We picked out details to shoot along the route. 60mm lens and a Speedlight.

15. A favourite background of mine looking punchy with the Fuji Velvia setting on my X-Pro1. Captured with the 35mm lens.

16. 60mm lens at f/2.8

17. 60mm lens at f/16. I'm really getting to grips with the characteristics of the Fuji prime lenses now. I'm having to learn three new lenses at the same time and it's not easy.

18. It was still raining here but I wanted to show the group how to create a sunset type image using a Speedlight on a wet, grey, overcast day.

19. A simple interior portrait taken with the 60mm lens wide open using ISO 640 and 1/125th second.

20. We finished the day in a Bristol waterfront bar shooting with the available light. It was then time for a round of drinks and a debrief :)

Question: Is the X-Pro1 as capable as an SLR on the street using ambient light or flash?  My Answer: Yes. One point of note however is my X-Pro1 was optimistic with it’s sensitivity. I was nearly one stop more open than the Canon and Nikon DSLRs in order to get the same exposure. This was more noticeable on the flash shots. I assume it is a calibration issue and the next firmware update will address the issue.

My next Urban Portraits workshop is in Manchester on the 18th June. Details are here.

Please feel free to comment on these pictures or your shooting experience if you were lucky enough to with us on the day.



  1. Ming

    Hi Damien,

    Wonderful set of images! First workshop and thanks for the lessons given despite challenging/interesting weather conditions!


    • damien

      Hi Ming, Thank you for your kind words and your company on the shoot.

      Kindest regards,


  2. david cooke

    Wonderful images as always Damien, the use of one bare faced flash has produced some remarkable photos and just goes to show anything can be achieved with simple kit, what a lovely model, Charlotte looks so natural and must have been a joy to work with, keep up the good work.

    • damien

      Hi David,

      Charlotte is indeed a joy to work with. So kind, patient, laid back and beautiful. The humble Speedlight is a wonderful tool when used well. Hard light is just the same. Use it well and reap the rewards. Soft light is flat and easy by comparison.

      Best regards,


  3. Thorsten

    Fab images as always Damien and it’s great to see that you didn’t let the rain stop you! :) I’ve often had my subjects ask me if a planned shoot is going to have to be postponed on account of the rain and I always let them know that because it’s an urban shoot there are numerous places that offer shelter from the rain, so no need to postpone.

    As I do more and more urban shoots, I’m finding the biggest challenge is in fact over zealous security staff or shop staff! Do you have that problem over there too?

    – Thorsten.

    • damien

      Hi Thorsten, It’s been quite a while now since we’ve got together and it’s great to get your message. I learnt to shoot in the rain during 10 years (over 400) weddings in the UK. I find I have to pick my shooting locations carefully and make friendships with the staff that matter in the local businesses. Security staff are the bottom of the pile and have to refer up so I approach the PR department who put a friendly public face on and can inform security that we are allowed to shoot etc. It’s all in the detail.

      I hope this helps.


  4. Mark Dell

    Yet again Damien the Fuji wins the day!
    I must perhaps sell all my Canon gear and go for the X Pro1

    • damien

      Hi Mark,

      I still have my 5D, 5D mk2 and D700 but sometimes I wonder why. I’m just loving the Fuji right now and it’s pictures delight me.

      Best regards,


  5. Cathie of Cathie Heart Photography

    Hi Damien, looked like you had a great day of photos again .. May I ask what you meant by ‘four stop shadow depth’?

    • damien

      Hi Cathie,

      Thank you for your compliments. By a four stop shadow depth I mean the area that is unlit is four stops darker than the area that is lit. This is usually evident by looking below the chin of my portrait subjects and a subtle lighting effect might have the chin shadow just one stop darker than the chin itself.

      I hope this expliains it okay.

      Kindest regards,



Ask a question or leave a comment. All comments get a reply.