Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

BTS – Fresh Coat of Paint

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Earlier this week I removed a large bookcase and some panel storage board along one of the walls in the studio in order to try and get a little more shooting space. I plastered over some holes that were in the drywall and then gave the entire wall a new coat of white coat.  For those of you who wanted to see more of the studio and some the equipment that I use, here’s a look inside the studio and the freshly painted wall.

Garry Black's Photo Studio

Garry Black’s Photo Studio

#1 Freshly painted white wall

#2 Hardwood floor

#3 White tile board

#4 Black tile floor (this is the actual floor in the studio)

#5 Dynalite 1000 W Power Packs

#6 Dynalite Flash Head

#7 Einstein E640 Flash

#8 Pocket Wizard Plus X – Wireless transmitter and receiver

#9 Manfrotto #052 Light Stands (discontinued) – Replacement 1004BAC Light Stand

#10 Manfrotto 032 Autopoles + 044 Background Paper clamps/Hooks + 046MC Metal Chain Expan Set

#11 Manfrotto 170 Mini-pole

#12 Manfrotto Light Stands – Various Sizes

#13 Plume Wafer 100 Softbox

#14 V-Flat (Lightform) held by a Manfrotto 170 Mini-pole

#15 Lastolite Collapsible Urban Background

#16 Painted Backgrounds and 9ft rolls of seamless paper

BTS – Fitness Photo Shoot Workshop

Monday, March 16th, 2015

This past weekend I was teaching a Fitness Model/Lighting Photo Shoot Workshop in my studio in Ottawa. This a final photo from one of the lighting setups with Audrey who was one of the models.


Below is the Behind The Scenes photo of this shot and some of the equipment that was used in creating it. Let me know if you have any questions!


#1 DIY Sandbag

#2 Manfrotto 052 Light Stand (discontinued) – Replacement 1004BAC Light Stand

#3 Plume Wafer 100 Softbox – Main light

#4 V-Flats (Lightform)

#5 Manfrotto 170 Mini-poles – using 4 of these – two are holding the V-flats and two for the background lights

#6 White seamless paper 9ft. – 2.71m

#7 Manfrotto 032 Autopoles + 044 Background Paper clamps/Hooks + 046MC Metal Chain Expan Set

#8 White Tile Board (Home Depot)

#9 Lastolite Collapsible Urban Background (not being used) and Holly who was one of the other models (taking a break)

#10 Floor mat – Audrey was fighting off a cold so we tried to keep her feet off the cold floor.

Behind The Scenes – Studio Photo Shoot

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The participants on my studio lighting workshops have the opportunity to see all of the equipment that is in my studio. Or if we are on a location  model photo shoot the equipment that I bring to those workshops.  Equipment is always being talked about and used in each setup for every scene, and while it is only a tool in helping to create a picture. It is pretty essential.

I receive quite a few e-mails and messages from photographers asking me about equipment. What do I use and what do I recommend. In order to help as many people as possible I have decided to start posting photos and descriptions showing the Behind The Scenes (BTS) of some of my shoots. If there is something that you would like to know or learn more about, please either add a comment here or send me an email


I have previously posted about these backgrounds and I can’t even begin to tell you how great they are. At first glace they look kind of strange. Models, designers and even photographers who are seeing them for the first time will look at them and either say or secretly think “he’s going to use this?” Okay, I admit they do look funny and definitely out of place, but every time right after I’ve taken the first picture and they see what it looks like the reaction is always – WOW!!!

Lastolite Urban Background

BTS – Lastolite Urban Background

The backgrounds are reversible and have a different background on each side. This one pictured is the Steel Shutter and on the other side is the Wooden Distressed Door. They are also collapsible, exactly the same way as a reflector folds up, so that makes them extremely portable and quick to set up anywhere. When it is fully opened it is 1.5×2.1m (5′ x 7′)

Lastolite Steel Shutter Background

Lastolite Steel Shutter Background

I have a couple of these backgrounds, the other one is the Red Brick/Grey Stone. I want to get more of them. For more information and descriptions of the other backgrounds here is the Lastolite Web Page for the Urban Backgrounds


Studio Lighting and Model Photo Shoot Workshop – Saturday Jan 17th

Friday, December 26th, 2014

This workshop is designed to help you learn the technical and creative aspects of producing effective portraits using flash in a studio. It will include demonstrations and intensive hands-on training on studio lighting. On this day long model photo shoot you will learn lighting techniques, posing and model interaction helping you to understand the relationship between lighting and posing.

You will learn how to use hard light, soft light, main key light, fill light, side-lighting, kickers, back-lights and reflectors.

You will be photographing the models in a variety of different studio lighting setups and clothing changes. With only 3 other photographers on this workshop you will have plenty of time to shoot each model in the different lighting setups and clothing/outfits.

Registration Details:
Cost for the day long workshop is $125. + HST to reserve your spot a deposit of $50. is required. The balance is due on the day of the workshop, payable in cash.

Limited to 4 photographers
You can either book through the Meetup page or contact me directly

Karine and Chloe will be the two models for this workshop.







Lastolite Urban Backgrounds – Part 2

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Recently I was shooting photos for a model who wanted several different looks for her portfolio. The quickest way to get so many different location looks was to actually shoot in the studio. Rather than driving all over the city all I had to do was pop open a few of my Lastolite Urban Collapsible Backgrounds. This isn’t a review of these backgrounds, it’s just to show you some additional photos of actually using them and the results you can get. The backgrounds that I have used here are: Derelict Wall, Wooden Fence, Shutter Door, Tarnished Metal.

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

lastolite collapsible urban background

Lastolite Urban Backgrounds

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Years ago, many years ago, I used canvas and muslin backgrounds in my studio and also when shooting on location in offices and homes. A huge advantage with them is their portability, their main drawback are the folds and wrinkles in the material that is nearly impossible to get rid of.  Well, physically it is impossible to get of them, the only way to do it, is by shooting with an shallow depth of field like f2.8 – 4 and throwing it out of focus. However, my biggest complaint with them though, is that they scream out dated studio photography. I would much rather use white or thunder grey seamless paper or preferably shoot at an outdoor location.

Fast forward to this week, when I received three of the new Lastolite Urban Backgrounds.  They are the next best thing to shooting at an outdoor location but they also offer the versatility of shooting in the studio and being able to rapidly change the backgrounds. Seeing these in person is one thing and then seeing them in photos is quite the other – they are amazing!  So far, I have used them for 2 photos and in both the models and MUA have been totally amazed and impressed how the pictures looked. “They look so realistic and three dimensional.”  The backgrounds are reversible, there is a different design on each side, they are easy to set up and wrinkles are non existent. When I first started to use them I hung them up from a Manfrotto U-Hook, but I quickly realized that wasn’t necessary as they can stand alone leaning up against the wall.  They are fold and open up just like the reflectors and come with their own circular carrying case. They take up very little storage space are easy to carry around. I have to say that I am really impressed with these backgrounds!!!!





Lastolite Urban Background

Sigma F1.4 Lenses

Monday, February 24th, 2014

In the current issue – Feb/Mar of Photo Life magazine this ad for Sigma F1.4 lenses is running. It’s my photo that is in the ad, and as a result of that I’m now receiving messages and emails from people wanting to know which one of the three lenses I would recommend. They are all great lenses and depending on your shooting style that would probably influence the lens that I would recommend for you. I took this photo with the Sigma 85mm F1.4 which is probably my favourite of the 1.4 lenses, my next preference would be the 50mm and then the 35mm. But these choices are for my personal style of shooting, if you like the way I shoot then go for the lenses in that order. If your shooting style is different then maybe the 35mm or 50mm might be best for you.

As a result of the ad, I am also getting lots requests from people asking who the model is – her name is Gina. And this was one of the photos from an outdoor location photo shoot workshop in Ottawa last September.

 Sigma F1 4 Lens Ad_Photo Life_FebMar2014

Review of the Sigma 24-105mm F4 ART Lens

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

This is the third of the new Sigma “Global Vision” lenses that I have used and tested in the past year. The other two were the 35mm F1.4 DG ART (review here) and the 120-300 F2.8 DG SPORTS lens which I took on my trip to Namibia, Africa in September. To say that these lenses are unbelievably good, would be a huge understatement. And now after testing the 24-105mm, I truly impressed with the quality of the >Sigma Global Vision Lenses.

In testing the Sigma 24-105mm lens, I used it on both a full-frame Canon 5D MKIII and Canon 7D APS-C sensor cameras. The 7D with the APS-C sensor which has crop factor of 1.6x effectively makes this lens the equivalent of a FF 38.4mm to 168mm.

I do own the Canon 24-105mm F4L lens, the zoom range makes it a very versatile and useful all purpose or walk around lens. However I was disappointed with it’s performance from the start. It is not as sharp as other Canon L-series lenses, the distortion at 24mm is huge, the AF sometimes “searches”, it doesn’t lock in right away – this could be a result of the lens being an F4 and I am use to shooting with fast lenses with apertures of F2.8 and faster. Aperture really does make a big difference in the speed and accuracy of focusing as does the auto-focus motor and the camera itself.

The criteria that I use in evaluating any lens is based on the following factors. Yours might be similar, but maybe in a different order.

  1. Sharpness.
  2. Distortion, Chromatic Aberration and Vignetting, if these can be easily corrected in post-processing it’s not really an issue.
  3. Construction, Lens Design and Ergonomics.
  4. Price.

In testing the Sigma 24-105mm I was fortunate enough to be able to use it for several weeks, before having to return it to Sigma Canada.  That gave me the opportunity to use it on many of my photo shoots. In fact, after reviewing the results from the first test shoot with it, I was confident enough in the image quality to use it on all of my commercial shoots.

For me the most important factor to consider is the lens’ performance, is the picture quality high enough to meet the demands of the publishing industry. What I found with the Sigma 24-105mm is that it is an extremely sharp lens and definitely far surpasses the high standards for publishing. On the Canon 5D MKIII  the sharpness is excellent in center, and while corner sharpness was not quite as sharp, it was still very good.  When comparing it against the Canon 24-105mm f4L, the Sigma outperforms it in every aspect. Overall it is sharper at every focal length and aperture setting,  including corner sharpness and wide open at F4.

On both the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and 7D, I found that the focusing was very quick, accurate and is unbelievably quiet.  And although I didn’t use it very often,  you can also use manual focus at any time to over ride the auto focus.  The lens also has a very effective four-stop image stabilization, as opposed to three-stops in the older technology of Canon’s.

A design feature that I think is a very good idea was placing the zoom ring, which is very large at the front of the lens as opposed to the Canon 24-105mm which is quite small and located closer to the camera body and it’s focusing ring is towards the front of the lens. I definitely prefer using Sigma’s configuration, it is better balanced making it easier to hold the camera/lens and also easier to operate.  It has an 82mm front filter compared to 77mm on the Canon, although after using for a day I didn’t notice any difference physically between the two.  Adjusting the focus and zoom does not change the length of the lens, as well the front element does not move or rotate, so using a filter holder or polarizing filter isn’t any problem. The minimum focusing distance is 45 cm (17.7″) I had to look that up, Canon and Nikon’s 24-120mm is similar.

The combination of rugged construction and the high quality of materials give the overall build of the lens is a  and high precision.  The lens mount is made from brass and when it is attached it to the camera goes on smoothly and fits tightly. The lens does not have a rubber weatherstripping seal, so don’t stand in the poring rain with your camera and this lens. If fact most people use a raincoat for their cameras/lenses since most cameras are not weather resistant either. A new accessory for the Global Vision Lenses is the Sigma USB dock which allows you to calibrate the lens and update the lens’ firmware.

There are many technical reviews, charts and scores about this lens on the internet, however I find that reading them is like reading an an instruction manual. I don’t read instructional manuals from cover to cover very often.  What I’ve heard about these other reviews, is that basically they have come up with the same results that I have discovered by using this lens in my day to day work. And that is, Sigma has once again designed and manufactured another lens which is producing outstanding results. A lot of thought has gone into designing this new series of Sigma lenses. I have been using the EX series of lenses for the past 2 -1/2 years and my opinion of them is that they very good, now with the new series of Global Vision  lenses,  all I can say about them is they are incredible and an excellent value.

I had almost completely given up using the Canon 24-105mm and had forgotten how useful that zoom range was. Now given the superior image quality from the Sigma 24-105mm I am hooked on that zoom range again. After using the Sigma 24-105mm F4 I will buying one and will be selling my Canon lens, although I’m probably shooting myself in the foot by writing this review.



24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105h

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105g

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105f

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105e

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105d

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105c

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Sigma 24-105b

24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM

Manfrotto Pro Photographer

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Today, Manfrotto Canada officially launched the Manfrotto Pro Photographers and Videographers Program. I am pleased to be one of the top professional photographers in Canada who have been chosen to be part of this program. It was over 30 years when I bought my first “real” tripod, a Manfrotto #055, before that I had a flimsy poor excuse for a tripod.  Over the years I bought other Manfrotto tripods, the #190 and the HUGE/HEAVY #075 that I used for a Pentax 6×7 medium format camera.  Today the tripod that I use is Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 Carbon Fibre Tripod which is so much lighter!!! And if you have seen any of the behind-the-scene photos taken in my studio, you know that it is jam-packed full of Manfrotto light stands, poles, clamps, arms and brackets. I’m looking forward to testing and reviewing more Manfrotto equipment in the future, I’ll keep you updated.


Manfrotto Pro Promo Sheet_Eng

It’s Been Awhile

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In fact it’s been a LONG time since I have posted anything here.  I have been extremely busy with work – photo shoots, workshops and editing/processing photos. So unfortunately I haven’t had a spare minute to post anything here. I do however do post many of my pictures on my Facebook Page and Garry Black Photography Facebook Page, please add me or “Like” my page if you haven’t already.

Here are two images from recent shoots, one in Ottawa and the other in Namibia, Africa. Somehow they seem rather similar to me.

Virginie in the grass

Virginie in the grass



Lion in the grass

Lion in the grass


For the Africa trip I used the new SIGMA Sport 120-300 mm F2.8 DG HSM OS lens. I used it with a Canon 7D which has a 1.6x cropped sensor, which made the lens effectively a 192-480 mm which was incredible. I had bought the 7D especially for this trip and to use with this lens. Once I have the opportunity to process some more of the images from this trip (and some time) I will post more images taken with the lens and a review of it.  But I can tell you right now – I loved using this lens!