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Inside My Camera Bag | Kevin Blackwell

Hello, wonderful people of Shotkit!

Grab a seat, let me tell you a little bit about my photography, how it started and what I use to make it happen.

Short and sweet—I’m Kevin Blackwell, a wanderlust visual storyteller, commercial and editorial photographer, and awarded wildlife photographer (toots own horn) from Atlanta, Georgia.

My love for photography really began in 2005, when a good friend gave me a Mamiya RB67 and Polaroid back as a gift. A camera I still kick myself for getting rid of.

At that time, I really had no idea about photography, but I immediately connected with it.

That same year, during a layover in London on my way to Africa, I went out to take some photos with the Mamiya. I sat beside a fountain in a park, and a man sat down beside me, and we started talking.

He asked about my camera, and I mentioned that I loved his incredible dreadlocks, which he told me hadn’t been cut in twenty-five years.

Before I left, he asked if I could take a photo of him to keep. I took some photos, and we sat and watched the black-and-white Polaroid 667 film develop. He smiled, watching his face slowly appear.

I still love this photo because of what it means to me. It’s on my website—feel free to look at it here.

When I see that photo, I can still remember everything about that encounter. It taught me the incredible power of photography and its ability to freeze a moment in time.

I have never really settled on one single avenue of photography, and I prefer it that way. Professionally, I still photograph people and products, but over the years—especially during the pandemic—I have found myself photographing more and more wildlife.

Now, for the good stuff, what everyone cares about is the gear!

I have been a diehard Canon fan since the beginning (you hear that, @CanonUSA??). If I remember correctly, I bought my first Canon Rebel XS sometime around 2009, and I’ve stuck with them ever since.

Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R5 C – Everything about these two cameras fits perfectly with my needs and shooting style.

From shooting in low light to the solid autofocus, they can handle whatever I throw at them, and I throw quite a lot.

Not to mention that sweet Canon color!

Whether I am photographing people or vipers, Coke bottles, or beetles, these two workhorses deliver every time, whether in the studio or out in the field.

My daily go-to lenses for shooting people and products are the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2, Canon RF 100mm f/2.8, and most recently the Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 DS, which has unbelievably soft bokeh.

When I photograph wildlife, I break out the beast: my Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II.

Canon RF 50mm f/1.2 – They don’t call it the nifty fifty for nothin’! This is one of the most versatile lenses in my kit. I can use it for up close, intimate portraits or detailed product photography. It’s a solid lens through and through.

Canon RF 85mm f/1.2 L DS – This has quickly become my new favorite lens for portraits. The image is unbelievably clean.

I chose the DS version (defocus smoothing) because of its gorgeous bokeh, which provides just that little extra nudge of smooth separation between your subject and the background.

If I have to take one lens out with me, it will be this one… for now, at least.

Canon RF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro – This lens is a gem in my kit for product photography. Its knack for capturing the most intricate details always makes me smile, and the image quality is out of this world.

Reaching for this lens has become muscle memory when setting up detailed product shots.

Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 5x Macro – This lens is quite unique. It’s a one-trick pony, but what it does, it does incredibly well. The 5x macro capabilities allow me to capture some insane details of nature’s tiniest creatures.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS III – I take this lens with me anytime I’m filming. It’s another versatile lens that does the job well. Due to its focal range, it makes for a fantastic B-cam lens.

Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II – I absolutely love this lens. I have taken it with me all over the world. Its fast aperture and image stabilization give outstanding performance in any situation, whether it’s hot, cold, wet, or dry… nothing stops this beast of a lens.

LAOWA 24mm f/14 2X Macro Cine Lens – This is an incredibly unique lens. I don’t get to use it that often, but when I do, it’s always awesome!

When filming wildlife on a macro level, this lens puts you on the same scale as the tiniest of creatures, creating the feeling that you’re in their world.

It’s a wide-angle macro, so it allows you to take in more of the surroundings while still giving you that macro feel.

Godox QT 400-1200 III M Strobe – I’m a big fan of Godox, so it was no surprise when I bought these strobes and found them to be great—I love ‘em.

There’s not a lot more to say about it! I use them daily, and they never let me down. They easily light my portrait sessions or product shots.

I’m really picky about my lighting, so it’s awesome just how consistent this series is.

Canon 600 EX II-RT Speedlights – I use these when I need something a little more compact but that delivers decent power. This flash is fantastic when used on-camera.

I typically use these when I am shooting macro work or photographing events.

However, there is a known issue with the Canon 600 EX II-RT Speedlight frequently losing signal with the Canon ST-E3-RT Trigger, which can be incredibly frustrating. I hope Canon addresses this soon.

Godox X Pro II C Trigger – Seamlessly works with my Godox QT series.

For softboxes and diffusion, I have a Westcott 5-foot Octabank Softbox – I grab this often for my portrait sessions and it’s a regular in my kit. What I love most is its ability to smoothly transition from highlights to shadows, giving my portraits that extra depth and dimension.

Godox 48X18” Softbox – I love this softbox. In fact, I have two of these that I use regularly. They are fantastic for creating beautiful highlights that flatter the contour of a glass bottle for product photography or giving your subject nice separation from the background for portraits.

I also have the Godox 45×30” Softbox and the Glow EZ Lock 10×24″ Softbox.

MagMod MagSphere 2 Diffuser and MagMod MagBounce 2 – I love the MagMod system. It’s my go-to for any behind-the-scenes work I do. It delivers a deliciously diffused look, leaving your shots smoother than a stick of butter.

Just recently, I took it out with my Canon 600EX II-RT Speedlight, photographing science people in caves and documenting salamanders.

I was surprised by just how strong the diffuser’s magnetic attachments were—they did not fall off once, even as I climbed up and down boulders.

Pelican 1510 Carry-On Case with the TrekPak Divider System – I love Pelican cases. They have always been sturdy, and I have never had any issues keeping my gear safe.

I travel with them, drag them through the mud, stack them, drop them. I’ve bought several other brands, trying to save a buck or two, and have had issues.

My main camera strap is a custom leather one that my wife bought me as a gift. Has my name on it all nice and fancy.

Coiro Dual Camera Shoulder Harness – I use this anytime I am slinging cameras around.

I have been an Apple user for as long as I can remember. I use the Apple MacBook Pro laptop on location while tethered. It helps to have such a crisp display for easy photo review.

Apple Mac Pro Tower
• 3.2GHz 16-core Intel Xeon W processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.4GHz
• 192GB (6x32GB) of DDR4 ECC
• 2 x Radeon Pro W5700X with 16GB of GDDR6 memory each
• 4TB SSD storage
• Apple Afterburner card

Wacom Intuos Pro – I can’t use a mouse to save my life, so Wacom is my only option.

Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are the two most used programs in my arsenal.

About a year ago, I quit Premiere Pro for all my video work and dove headfirst into the world of DaVinci Resolve. There’s no going back. The color grading is next-level, and the UI feels modern and intuitive compared to other programs.

For the miscellaneous items in my bag, I have Apple AirPods, toilet Paper, Advil, White balance cards, apples, gaffer Tape, clamps, V-Flat World XL Duo Boards, aerosol atmosphere, and a Canon BG-R10 Battery Grip.

And there’s more:

DJI Mavic 3 Pro Drone

GoPro Hero 11

Sigma 24mm f/1.4 ART

Neewer N555 Tripod

Flashpoint 10′ C-stand with Turtle Base Kit and 40″ Grip

GVM Motorized camera slider

DJI RS 3 Pro Gimbal Stabilizer

PolarPro VND Peter McKinnon Edition II 2-5 Stop Filter

My gear is always shifting. While there are certainly some trusty essentials that make it into my bag each time, a good chunk of what I carry changes depending on what and where I am shooting. It’s all about adapting.

I’m constantly on the lookout for new tools to add to my kit, and I’m happy to test new things and see how they fit into my workflow. Experimentation is key—it keeps things fresh and pushes me to grow as a photographer.

Adjust your gear to match your shooting style; eventually, you’ll find what works best for you.

I love connecting with other photographers and shooting with them any chance I get. It’s the best way to learn something new and, of course, peek into their gear bags.

So, there you have it—my ever-evolving kit.

Thanks for looking inside!

Website | Instagram

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