Behind The Scenes – Studio Photo Shoot

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

LASTOLITE URBAN BACKGROUNDS

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

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 gblack@garryblack.com

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

Karine-263

Karine-163

Chloe-0339

Chloe-0266

 

 

Lastolite Urban Backgrounds – Part 2

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

Outdoor Lighting Workshop – Ottawa

August 15th, 2014

This is a hands-on instructional workshop using flash and reflectors/diffusers and natural light to create outdoor portraits. The goal is to help you learn both the technical and creative techniques that will help you with the process of creating remarkable images outdoors on a location photo shoot.

Topics that we will cover:

• Lighting :  Natural Light, Flash and Reflector/Diffuser

• What to look for when making an image. This sounds rather vague right now – but this is huge in terms of getting a great picture.

• Posing Techniques

• Lens Selection for Portraits

• Controlling Depth of Field – How to deal with backgrounds

• Selecting a location and background choice

 

After demonstrating each lighting technique, each participant will be able to photograph the model using the same lighting set-up. Everyone will have the opportunity to put in to practice the lighting techniques taught.

This workshop is limited to 4 photographers

Cost is $175 +HST ($197.75)  and includes photo instruction and model fees.  A deposit of $100 is required at time of registration to hold your space on the workshop. You can pay by Paypal, cheque, cash, or email money transfer through online banking.

If you have any questions or would like to register for this class, please send an email or call Garry at 613-824-9295.

The workshop will be held from 4:00 pm to sunset/twilight ~8:15 pm on Sunday August 24, 2014

NOTE – To attend this workshop, you do not need to have your own flashes.

A Digital SLR camera is required with lenses. Lighting equipment and model(s) will be provided.

Model booked for this workshop is Brittany.

Brittany

Brittany-141

Brittany-276-2

Brittany-302-3

Brittany-006

Lastolite Urban Backgrounds

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!!!!

lastolite05

lastolite04

lastolite03

lastolite02

Lastolite Urban Background

Sigma F1.4 Lenses

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

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

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

Namibia Photo Workshop

January 23rd, 2014

Last September I returned to Namibia, leading another photography tour to this amazing country. I first travelled there in 1988 while I was on a four month trip to Southern Africa, on that trip I brought 400 rolls of slide film with me. That was a lot film!  Since that trip I have returned many times conducting workshops and tours in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. I will be returning to Namibia again in September 2015 and conducting a photography tour with Safari Wise, send me an e-mail if you are interested.

 

0V2C2463

0V2C3394

0V2C3476

0V2C3884

0V2C4015

0V2C5924

0V2C6148

0V2C6441

0V2C7909

0V2C9093

0V2C9247

IMG_5421-2

IMG_5437

IMG_5632

IMG_5838

IMG_6636

IMG_9457

Ottawa Photography Workshops and Photo Shoots

January 19th, 2014

Last year, near the end of November I launched a Photography Meetup group for my Ottawa workshops. These workshops will cover a variety of topics: studio lighting and also location model photo shoots, creative impressionist photography, visual design, photo shoots in downtown Ottawa of architecture, spring flowers and autumn colours. In addition to my own workshops and classes, I have also added Ashley Murfin as another instructor/organizer. He has an incredible studio which is fully stocked with tons of props and is constantly conducting “Themed Photo Shoots”

Hope you will be able to join us on an upcoming workshop or photo shoot.

 http://www.meetup.com/Ottawa-Photography-Workshops-and-Photo-Shoots/