The Best Camera for Expecting Parents

Photos of a Newborn thru Grandpa’s Eyes

Written By: Leo J. Calagaz, President – Calagaz Photo

Calagaz Photo has been involved in the special events in many of our customers lives, non-more important than the birth of a child! In our store, we always have many expecting parents looking for the best camera for capturing the memories of their newborn’s life.

Baby Bennett Calagaz

Personally, we were blessed with our second grandchild on Monday October 13th at 9:13 am. James Bennett Calagaz was welcomed into this world by, what else would you expect, a barrage of pictures. It was all about preparation. My son asked me three months ago what I would recommend for a camera for this occasion.  Obviously he had an idea I would have an opinion. It really made me think of what we as a company should recommend to the many expectant parents that we have in the store asking the same question as my son.

Calagaz Family Photo

Cameras today are changing as fast as a newborn’s diaper has to be changed!! The conventional inexpensive point and shoot camera has almost been replaced by the cameras in smartphones. However, while taking pictures of my new grandchild with other family members from both sides taking pictures with their cellphones it was interesting that once I started taking pictures with the camera I recommended for my son there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the images. Immediately everyone was asking me to send them pictures taken with the “real” camera!! People quickly realized that for such a special once in a lifetime picture they were concerned with the quality of this memory. My son’s father in law has already asked my son four times if I will print a photo book of the happy occasion so he can show his 84 year old mother in the nursing home. These images are an important part of our family life forever.

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Make sure that your picture taking includes a story from every step of the pregnancy – from the Baby Reveal Party to going to the hospital… as well as the beautiful child and all the family members being part of this special experience. Also make sure that the person taking the pictures is also included in some of the images. Don’t want to leave Grandpa out!!!

Moving InHeaded Home

I know that you expecting parents are waiting to find out what I would recommend to my own son as the best camera to take pictures of my second grandchild and first grandson. Well… come into the store in Mobile or Pensacola and ask for Leo’s choice in cameras for his son and they will be happy to show you which camera I chose!!!

Leo J. Calagaz, President
The Calagaz Group

Leo is big boss over all things Calagaz. We think he’s had a camera in his hands since the fresh age of three. (Information not verified however…we’re still trying).

Leo is celebrating 39 years of marriage with his best friend Tina Calagaz. May or may not have to do with old age or just because he’s recently been blessed with two beautiful grandbabies, but we now thoroughly enjoy calling him grandpa. And with two doggies… also grand ”paw”… (get it? paw? ok…)

All in all, Mr Bossman keeps us on our toes. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

For more information about all things Calagaz, visit the Calagaz Group website at: www.calagazgroup.com – they do so much more than just sell cameras, folks! Check it out!

When leaves fall down… look up!

Written by: Laura Graham
Photography by: Laura Graham

Ahhhh… it’s here!
Crisp morning air, boots and sweater jackets, hay, pumpkins and hot spiced cider.
Autumn. Who doesn’t love it?

The queen of rusty colors and trees bleeding all their beauty in a display worthy of a gallery exhibit. I don’t know of one photographer that doesn’t get giddy at the very thought of shooting during fall foliage season – vibrant colors can transform an otherwise mundane scene into a blanket of red, yellow, and orange hues.

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So how does a professional photographer take advantage of this breathtaking season? There are many things you can do to set your images apart from simple snapshots – some are easy, and others a bit more advanced. Below you’ll find a guide to photographing fall foliage – covering things from light to composition, as well as a few other helpful tips which will improve your fall foliage techniques.

Know Your Light
Since this is a very short-lived season, the last thing you should do is stay indoors due to less-than-ideal weather. You can find a beautiful image with any kind of lighting – you just need to adjust how you evaluate your scene and use what you have to your advantage.

Overcast
Lighting plays a huge role on the vibrancy of color when photographing fall foliage. While many don’t consider an overcast day to be the best lighting foliage photography, it’s an incredible way to capture the saturated colors of leaves. Overcast lighting has the ability to eliminate harsh shadows and highlights – and in the process, bring out those powerful tones and colors that aren’t visible under the sun.

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Sunlight
Of course, nothing can beat those warm tones of the sun combined with the incredible color of fall. The more direct lighting gives you an increase of shadows and highlights which expands the tonal range and drama of an image. In particular, the golden hours have the ability to flood your lens with visible rays of sun – combine this with the foliage color, and you’re in for an incredibly powerful photo.

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When shooting under the sun, you’ll undoubtedly run into exposure problems – especially in the morning and evening when the angle of the sun gives you more highlights and shadows to work with. An overexposed sky, underexposed ground, or blown highlights from reflections are all common issues that you may encounter.

When that happens, you have two main options – exposure blending (combining two or more photos with different levels of exposure in Photoshop) or using the Variable ND filters, such as the ones in our Promaster HGX line.

Using Weather
Fall weather is unstable and unpredictable – rain, mist, sometimes frost can show up without notice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot during these conditions. Actually, many landscape photographers look forward to these pleasant surprises as they add more authenticity.

Mist and Fog
Not only is this a show of color, but those cold nights allow for many misty mornings. Fog on water and thick mist in the air can provide a stunning composition – combine this with the light of the golden hours, and you can create an outstanding autumn landscape.

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Once peak foliage arrives, it can last a while – anywhere from a week to a month, so you have plenty of time to try out different perspectives and compositions once peak arrives.

Also, it’s good to know that once leaves change color, they don’t become any more vibrant than what you already see. And once they fall, the color only lasts a couple days – so actually your window of opportunity to photograph colorful foliage on the ground is shorter than the peak season itself.

Foliage Shooting Techniques
Weather and light have a huge role to play in the kind of images you create, but what special techniques can you use with your camera to photograph autumn in a unique and powerful way?

Using Polarizer Filters
Many know that a polarizer filter is a wonderful tool that reduces exposure and also deepens the saturation of colors – a huge benefit for autumn. However, what works particularly well for fall foliage is that a polarizer filter’s glare-reducing ability also applies to sun and light reflecting off of leaves, meaning those colorful leaves that were originally washed out from reflections now have color that is deep and vibrant.

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Slowing Down Your Shutter
Fall provides a wonderful opportunity to get creative with your camera. By using a slow shutter speed, you can capture movement in a surreal and powerful way. Falling leaves or branches of color swaying in the wind are both excellent opportunities to use a slow shutter speed to get a bit artistic with autumn – and don’t forget about moving water.

Fountain photo Photo courtesy of loyal
Calagaz customer, Jon Jeffress

During the daylight hours, you’ll need to slow down your shutter tremendously in order to capture movement like this – and using a small aperture generally won’t cut it. Instead, you’ll need to use ND filters of varying strength depending on how slow you want your shutter to be. Don’t be afraid to stack your filters (UV+Polarizer+ND) either for those very long exposures – just watch out for any unwanted vignetting.

And of course – don’t forget to lock your mirror, mount on a sturdy tripod such as our XC line, and use your remote shutter release.

 

Use Bokeh
If you have a fast lens, fall is the perfect time to use wide apertures and create some outstanding bokeh images. You can photograph bokeh in practically any situation, but autumn is unique – the colorful leaves can create a mosaic of shapes and tones, and they also makes a fantastic backdrop for an outdoor portrait session.

Composing Your Photo
While photographs of a sprawling mountain side can be breathtaking, they’re not the only images you can capture. Fall color is a short-lived season where every style of photography can come into play.

Focus on Simplicity
Minimalism can be equally as powerful as an autumn vista – sun flares, isolated trees, leaves, and macro shots are often ignored in the quest to capture a more complex photograph.

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Change Your Perspective
Sometimes the simplest way to improve your autumn photography is the most successful. Changing your vantage point from eye-level to up high or down low can provide a unique perspective that many do not expect.

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Hijack Some Foliage
One of the great aspects of fall foliage is that you can take it wherever you go – or at least a small part of it. By positioning a leaf or two in a unique way, you can completely transform an otherwise bland composition by offering a strong focal point – this works especially well with wide angle lenses (the Tamron 10-24mm is one of my favorites).

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Fall foliage season is too short to afford a missed photo opportunity. Clouds, sun, day, night – you can always find a stunning composition to capture, whether you’re looking at a beautiful mountain vista, the confinement of your backyard or pick up a few leaves to look at closer. Just grab your camera and have fun!

I wish you all good light!

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Laura is a European redhead thrown by fate around the sparkly white Alabama beaches! She’s a techie who loves all things photography and social media. She digs Altoids and smileys, she’s a big time foodie and owns a husband, 2 shih-tzus and a Nikon.

Laura just started working at Calagaz, but she’s declared us her second family. You know, besides the folks back in Romania…

To view more of Laura’s work, visit her website at www.andreephotography.com

For more information on the products mentioned in this post, or to schedule a private lesson with one of our knowledgable instructors, visit www.calagaz.com or call the Calagaz Photo store nearest you in Mobile Alabama (251-478-0487) or our new location in Pensacola Florida (850-476-2697)

Momtography: 5 Tips for Photographing Children

By: Jessika Kirkland

As mothers we often witness the beauty in our children on a day to day basis, but when we try to photograph them it simply doesn’t translate… Here are 5 tips that I find helpful to capturing your child’s adorable face and unique personality in your photographs.

1. Try adding flash or additional light.

Children are always moving, adding flash allows you to freeze their actions and help improve the exposure especially if you are working with limited available light. Constant light is an inexpensive way to add in extra light to places that may be limited, like inside your home. Some great lighting choices that are inexpensive and easy to use are the ProMaster FL-190 or a constant light.

The ProMaster FL190 is an external flash that is powerful enough to allow you to reach further with your lighting and light up a bigger space. The built-in flash on your camera only extends about 10 feet, which is going to limit you if you’re further than 10 feet away from your subject.

What I love about using a constant light, is “what you see is what you get.” The constant light is a continuous light that you just turn on and off – there’s not a lot of “thinking” involved from a technical standpoint. Its portable, easy to pop up and take back down for easy storage. Even better, the ProMaster Constant Light Kit at Calagaz is only $150 — it doesn’t get any easier (or better) than that!

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2. Use focus to tell a story.
The face doesn’t always have to be the main focal point. Ask yourself… “What do I want to remember in 10 years?” Check your camera’s instruction manual and put your camera in “single-point focus mode.” This setting will allow you to pick what YOU want to be in focus instead of the camera deciding. Watch this short video on how to manually set your focus on your camera in one simple step.

3. Practice getting your timing right.

Pressing the shutter button on your camera half way down will focus the picture and then when you press it all the way down, it will take the shot. Practice getting the camera in focus and be ready for when they make their next move. Always know what’s coming next. Be ready for their next move, they are quick, you need to be quick.

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4. Never ask a child to smile or say cheese!

Guaranteed. 100% of the time. It will NOT be natural.  This is when you have fun and put on a show… Act like a goofball, let them laugh at you. The idea here is to capture your child’s natural laughter that makes YOU smile!

Try saying random things out loud like “pineapple pizza” or something completely silly. Things like this usually surprises children and makes them laugh.

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5. Eliminate distractions!

Yep, even if that requires asking mom, dad or grandma to step away. Too many people trying to get the child’s attention is very distracting, and kids just aren’t sure who to look at. It only leads to him/her to get irritated and not cooperate… and that’s no fun!

Just remember:  It’s more important to get the shot than to get a perfect one. Don’t miss something precious of your children because you can’t figure out your camera. Practice, practice, practice! And, when you run into something you have a question on, feel free to call us at Calagaz – we are always happy to help!

 For more tips, be sure to catch our next class on “Taking Better Photos of Children” – this hour and a half class is only $30!  Or, if you need more personalized help with your camera, schedule a one-hour private lesson with one of our many knowledgable instructors for only $60!  For a schedule of photography classes & events visit www.calagaz.com.

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Jessika Kirkland is a mom and a professional photographer with a passion for newborn, toddler and family photography, and experience in real estate photography since 2006. Jessika volunteers on a regular basis for the local organization, “Photography for Patients” where professional photographers volunteer their time and talent to take photos of kids with cancer… for free. For more information about Jessika or Photography for Patients, visit www.jessikakirklandphotography.com

How to Shoot Unique Halloween Photos

How to Shoot Halloween Festivities

Kristi Bonney captures the frightfully fun action using the Tamron 18-270mm VC PZD lens.

Article by Jenn Gidman
Images by Kristi Bonney

Halloween is right around the corner, so start prepping now so you don’t miss a single shot of your little munchkins decked out in their scary regalia. Kristi Bonney recently threw a mini-soiree with six children (two of them her own) and used the Tamron 18-270mm VC PZD lens to capture the festivities.  Read the entire blog post on Tamron’s website here.

Go for setup and detail shots before the party starts.
I was initially going to shoot this little celebration in my dining room, but I had a lighting issue. So we moved the Halloween party outdoors under the trees on a cool, crisp autumn day, and I basically put some treats out for the kids and set up all my props and decorations. I took a couple of shots of the setup to capture the mood of the party, then I took some individual shots of the treats on the table before I let the kids have at them.

It’s really cool to get the details in some of those decorations or treats. When I framed my shot of one of the cupcakes, that swirly chocolate looked so delicious. I really wanted to concentrate on that and kick everything else out of focus so that the viewer’s eye was drawn into the cupcake itself. I positioned the cupcake further away from the other items in the background by distancing it, I was able to get that nicely blurred background.

Let the action unfold naturally
I always try to figure out what kind of shots I want beforehand. For instance, I hadn’t choreographed the shot of the kids digging their hands into the bowl of candy corn. I just knew I wanted to get the kids eating snacks, laughing, and having fun with those silly, natural moments. I knew if I put that bowl there, they’d be digging into it, no doubt! I just stepped back and waited with my camera.

Make your images stand out with interesting compositions.
There are all different ways to show the kids dressed up and ready to party. I wanted to get a photo of my daughter looking at herself in her costume, because I knew the smiles would come naturally then. I moved a large mirror into my dining room and placed it right next to a window so I could get lots of natural light (it was the middle of the day). Once my daughter was dressed, I told her to go over to the mirror and take a look. I stepped back so I wouldn’t be in the mirror’s reflection. My main focus was on the ruffles of the dress, the details along the sleeve, and her hair (I loved her curls!), but I was also able to get her facial expression and that blurred background. It was the best of all worlds. (read more)

Mix up posing and candids for great group shots.
Most people are going to want to get some shots of their kids in full costume mode, but look, it’s Halloween. The kids just want to get their friends, go trick-or-treating, and load up on sugar. They don’t want to stand around and take photos. What I did for the images of the kids against the side of the house is something I do a lot. I said,”If you pose for me for a second, I’ll take three shots of you guys standing in your costumes, and as soon as I get my three shots, you can do whatever you want – make silly faces, jump up and down, go crazy!” And that’s what they did. It’s a terrific way to get those pretty posed shots, and then, after they have their crazy time, all of those great candid moments that you can’t stage.

Turn typical jack-o’-lantern shots on their heads.
People often take jack-o’-lantern shots, but sometimes they can be kind of boring. First of all, when you’re shooting a lit pumpkin in that blue hour after the golden light is gone, I recommend using a tripod. If you can’t do that, set your camera down on a sturdy spot or handhold if you can brace yourself really well. Get your elbows in against your body, hold your camera still, and hold your breath if you can.

For a shot I took of my daughter with one of our jack-o’-lanterns, I kicked up the ISO (don’t be afraid to do that, a little noise is fine!) and exposed for the lit area of the pumpkin. I wasn’t looking for a typical jack-o’-lantern shot… I wanted to add a bit of nostalgia by adding my daughter into the shot. I placed her next to the jack-o’-lantern, standing there in her little dress, her teeny-tiny feet in those oversized, high-heeled Disney Princess shoes. She stood still for a while, but then when she started fidgeting, she pulled her dress up a little and I got a perfect shot that showed her feet peeking out from under the dress, with the jack-o’-lantern sitting right next to her.

Tap into black and white to focus on fun Halloween expressions.
During our trick-or-treat outing, I wanted to do something different and beautiful. When you think about trick-or-treating as a kid, you remember how excited you were when you went to all the different houses and never knew what candy you’d get. I wanted to capture my daughter in that trick-or-treating moment when the candy is being handed over, with the light streaming in from the house’s doorway to light her face.

When I took the image, I already knew I wanted to convert it to black and white. Even though she had this great expression on her face, and that’s what was pulling me in, the colors of the Halloween lights along the trim of the door, the light from the pumpkin, and the purple reflecting from her costume just took away from that smile on her face. So I purposefully converted to black and white because I wanted the focus of the image to be her expression, not on the Halloween decorations or on her green trick-or-treating pumpkin.

To see more of Kristi Bonney’s work, go to http://liveandloveoutloud.com/

How To Photograph Landscapes

calagaz-how-to-photograph-landscapesOriginal post provided by Tamron

For those of you who have been to a few of our photography workshops, you know that we have brought-in our friend and amazing photographer, David Akoubian, to lead the group and teach us the ways of his beautiful work.  David is a southern guy from Georgia, and he is no stranger to the outdoors – whether he’s shooting at his home in the mountains or leading one of his photography workshops to the Grand Tetons or Apalachicola, Florida, David has a special love of nature that translates effortlessly to his photography.

David has worked with our friends over at Tamron on an article on how to photograph a landscape – you can read the post in its entirety here.  Below is an excerpt of his tips for quick reference if you’re heading out to shoot this weekend. If you don’t have some of the equipment that David references in this post, check with us at Calagaz for any items we may have available for rent!

Choose the right lens.
When you’re selecting a nature and landscape lens, you want to pick a lens that’s incredibly sharp and has great compression/decompression abilities. The Tamron 24-70 VC was my lens of choice for this series. The resolution is unreal—it’s basically giving me medium-format resolution with my camera, which you can’t beat.

When I’m trying to stretch a landscape, the wide-angle end of the 24-70 gives me the decompression I need, “stretching” the landscape out and giving me the ability to use a compositional element to grab the viewer’s attention. (read more)

Evaluating a scene to increase visualization
Decide what kind of mood you’re trying to set. If you’re photographing a river, for example, ask yourself if you want to do a strong stop-action image with a faster shutter speed to show the power of the water coming down the river, or if you want to slow the shutter speed down and create a more relaxing mood.

You also have to think about how you’re going to process the image. What it’s going to look like straight out of the camera may be very different than how you want it to end up. By previsualizing and thinking it through, you may realize you want to add a little more contrast to make it a little warmer, for example, to match your original vision. (read more)

Look for S-curves and C-curves and use “power points.”
My background was originally as a painter. I studied the Renaissance artists, who would look for C-curves if they were painting a male, S-curves if they were painting a female.

If you lead a viewer into a photo with a straight line, you create a feeling of uncomfortableness, because there’s a static left and right side. You want to break that up while still giving viewers a way to travel through the image. You don’t want them to struggle to have to go through the picture—it should be a smooth transition.

When I want to make a picture soft or relaxing, I’ll go for the S-curve look, since that’s thought of as a more feminine appearance. For example, that could be a river winding through a landscape. On the other hand, waves crashing against a shoreline with a lighthouse might appear more masculine—the land against the sea appears to make a backward “C” shape.

Step away from the camera, then return to the camera to verify the image.
A question I’ll often get asked: What’s your keeper ratio? How many of your images do you actually keep? You might think you’ve got a great shot, with ferns in the foreground and a river in the background, but then when you go to look through the viewfinder, you might see a big, bright rock or other distracting element in the lower left of the frame. When there’s something there in the viewfinder that shouldn’t be, recompose by changing your angle of view, blurring out the background, or deciding otherwise how you’ll eliminate those distractions.

Evaluate your exposure.
The camera is fairly limited; the human eye sees so much more of a range of light. Photographers will sometimes head out and take just one image of a particular scene; then they get back home and see that what they wanted to show in the foreground doesn’t pop out because the foreground is too bright. To avoid that, I put my camera on a tripod, take one picture exposing for the foreground, one for the background, then I blend them together in Photoshop. You can use filters in the field, but I feel you get more accuracy adjusting it in the computer.

Use HDR (high dynamic range) enhancement when it’s advantageous.
It makes sense to tap into HDR if you’ve got a scene when there’s not a distinct horizon line or line of contrast. That means the border between the dark and light parts of the image aren’t as clear. If I have a lot of light coming in from different points and don’t have that straight line that gives me a 1- or 2-stop image, I’ll create an HDR image so I can get up to 9 stops. I get the details I need in, then go back in afterward and add contrast to it so it doesn’t look too fake. You don’t want the HDR to take away from your point of interest; you want it to be complementary.

Use a self-timer/camera release and a circular polarizer for water scenes.
If you’re shooting waterfalls or a creek or river, any little movement will take away from the clarity of the image if you’re dragging the shutter to create that dreamy, creamy effect. You want to have your hands off the camera as much as possible. Use a self-timer or remote camera release to accomplish what you want to in the image.

I’d also recommend using a high-grade circular polarizer. That’s typically the only thing I’ll stick on the front of a Tamron lens. The polarizer will take the glare off of any shiny rocks in the water and also saturate the greens in your image to make them richer. Don’t use a low-end polarizer, though. You want to get a filter that’s equal to the quality of your lens. Otherwise it’s like using plastic wrap on a Ferrari to protect the windshield.

Slow down and don’t sweat the technical stuff.
I always tell all my students that to improve their landscape photography (or their photography in general), slow down a little. You take the time to select a lens and focal length, decide on your photographic elements, pick an angle from which you’re going to shoot. But when you create an image, you’re also capturing the mood and memory of that image—a moment in time.

Enjoy the moment, and let your camera do the technical work for you. Concentrate on the composition. Bracket if you need to, get the scene onto your sensor and onto your memory card, and worry about the little things you want to fix later. You can’t fix bad composition on the computer.

To see more of David Akoubian’s work, go to bearwoodsphoto.com.

 

Photo Contest: Win a trip for two to Los Angeles!

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Okay, folks… this is kind of an emergency.  You have FIVE… yes, 5 days to enter this photo contest that ends on April 16. We just received an email about it, and we think one our OUR customers should win because y’all are amazing. We see your stuff… you are amazing.

Look at this Grand Prize and tell me you don’t want to enter:

Win a trip for two to The Big Photo Show Los Angeles 2014, including round trip airfare from anywhere in the contiguous United States, accommodations in The Big Photo Show host hotel for up to three nights, and admission to The Big Photo Show Los Angeles, a Canon Rebel T3i kit and Pixma printer, and a deluxe frame job from On the Wall Gallery & Frames.

Okay, so here’s what you have to do according to their website:

Enter this photo challenge and help us to explore all of the fun you can have with photography.  What is the most fun thing to capture with photography? You tell us with your entries! Is it people interacting, emotions, animals, the world around you, sunsets, sports? We cannot wait to find out!

It’s easy to enter. Click here to enter online or email them your entry (one entry per email, please). Use subject line “Seriously Fun Photography”. Enter today for your chance at great prizes and to see your images displayed at The Big Photo Show Los Angeles, May 17-18, 2014, and on The Big Photo Show website.  And be sure to tell them you’re a Calagaz customer… you might get some brownie points :)

Submission deadline is April 16, 2014 so don’t delay! This photo challenge will award prizes for both popular choice and judging by professional photographers. Open to all photo enthusiasts but winners must be in the US for some prizes. Find the full challenge rules here.

Oh wait. There’s more… the other prizes for the Professionally Judged entries aren’t too shabby either. Check it out below.  Oh, and if you want to size-up the competition… the entries are all on this website!

2nd Place: Pentax K-50 camera, $100 certificate from Nations Photo Lab, Metallic print from Fullerton Photographics, LumiQuest Strobist Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
3rd Place: Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM lens, Creative Kit by Macphun Software, LumiQuest Strobist Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
4th Place: Sony a3000 camera with 18-55mm lens, LumiQuest Strobist Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
5th Place: Erin Manning Home Studio Lighting Kit by Westcott and Sunpak Ultra Pro 423 Carbon Fiber Tripod

Popular choice winners:

1st Popular Choice: Panasonic Lumix ZS30 camera, Westcott 304 5-in-1 Reflector Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
2nd Popular Choice: Tamron SP 70-300 Di VC USD zoom lens, Macphun Creative Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
3rd Popular Choice: Tabelz laptop table and Macphun Creative Kit software

Now get out there and shoot this weekend!  We need to represent the Gulf Coast, people!

Our Favorite Things…

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I don’t know about you, but I love to read reviews and take people’s recommendations. When I go out to eat, I ask the server what their favorite item on the menu is because I know when I was a server, I ate at my place of employment like… Every. Single. Day.

I mean, who would know what’s awesome better than the employee, right?  So I got to thinking… we (Calagaz employees) look at and use the stuff in our store ALL the time. Our store is huge and probably super intimidating when you walk in the first, second and maybe third time. So its likely that you’ve missed some of the really awesome stuff we have sitting around here. Or maybe… you haven’t ventured to the BACK of our store where we have a few little gems hidden in our classroom. (Yeah… we have a classroom!)

So we’re going to start posting some of our favorite things that aren’t so obvious like the newest camera with WiFi – we’re going to show you the obscure little items that are a little inexpensive nugget of awesomeness that you would have never noticed otherwise.

So since I just came up with this random idea and haven’t consulted with our sales team yet (hehehe! My evil plan!) I’m going to use one of the newest ProMaster YouTube videos as my first post. This one is about the go-anywhere, super compact and multi-colored pop-up background. You’ll see in this video and hear from a real photographer about how awesome and versatile this little guy is. In the meantime, I’ll be scanning the Thesaurus for a synonym for the word “awesome.” :)

Nugget of Awesomeness #1: ProMaster Pop-Up Background

A Colorful Weekend for some of Calagaz Photo’s finest…

Calagaz Photo's Finest Color Run Crowd

In case you missed it, this weekend marked the 2nd year for The Color Run in Orange Beach at The Wharf. Two of our employees, Jessika Kirkland and Bailey Chastang, were part of the crew documenting the entire event for all who participated – and they’re sharing their experience with us!

So, how was it?  Was the weather beautiful down in Orange Beach? 
JK: We had a blast, except we were drenched and covered in colors! I mean, its been two days and my toes are STILL blue!

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It was raining the whole time?  What did you do about your camera? 
JK: Well, luckily I had my ProMaster Rain Jacket that covered all my equipment. Living in Mobile, and knowing it could rain every afternoon, I never leave home without it… and this weekend, the rain jacket didn’t just protect my camera from the weather… but from flying colors too!

What did you take pictures of while you were there?  What was the most challenging part of photographing this event? 
JK: I was inside the running course, set-up at the purple station called “Purple People Eater” – it was so much fun capturing people’s expressions as they’re being bombed with purple powder! The kids would run through, and then run back to get bombed again… it was really funny. It was so challenging though!  I was constantly having to change my exposure settings due to it being overcast at times, and then sun peeking back out… all while trying to keep a high enough shutter speed to catch the action. Last year when I photographed The Color Me Rad Run in Mobile, I learned that I should have brought a monopod or a tripod. But, with all the constant movement, a monopod would be ideal. So, you bet this year I didn’t forget it!  I like the ProMaster XC525C because its a lightweight, carbon-fiber tripod, but also includes a monopod by unscrewing one of the legs so its perfect for events like this because its so compact and versatile.

Bailey's Photo Booth Area

BC: I did the studio part, or the “photo booth” with the Color Run backdrop. Sometimes working a photo booth can get monotonous, so I just tried to keep things fun and interesting the whole time.  I asked people to jump in the air, throw their colors, make goofy faces… doing basically whatever they wanted. I feel like I really captured how fun the moment and the event was, which is really what’s most important.  I would say the most challenging thing was the number of people!  The line was probably a football field long, so we didn’t have that much time to get posed so I just had to stay on my toes and come up with creative ideas on the fly. The most difficult thing would be changing the shutter speed based on what the runners were doing. For instance, if they decided to jump in the air, I would need to raise the shutter speed and still be in-sync with my lights. Or, if they decided to throw color, I might need to drop or raise my exposure depending on how much color they threw and how bright it was compared to my lights.

What was the craziest thing that happened? 
BC: Well, the WHOLE THING was crazy!  But, for me… having a 6-year old attempt to chunk a large amount of paint directly at my camera was definitely a memorable experience for BOTH of us!  I freaked out at the moment, but afterwards realized that it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal because not only did I have my rain jacket on my camera, but I also had a ProMaster HGX Filter on my lens, which means that the paint would have come off very easily with a lens cleaning cloth. So, no need to see a cardiologist this week!

There are more 5k runs involving this color mess if you want to check it out… The Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds is hosting the Color Me Rad Run on May 3 and if you use the promo code “RONALD” you’ll save 10% on your registration, and a portion of your registration fee will benefit The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile!

Why Printing Your Memories Matters

Keeping photos is keeping memories, and an opportunity to leave a tangible legacy for your children and family members. These days, a lot of people use cell phones to take pictures, and that technology along with social media and storage devices are destroying the way we’re recording history for future generations.

There are still ways to print and store your memories to ensure they’re not lost forever, so we invite you to watch our first appearance on Studio 10’s “Picture Perfect” segment and perhaps you’ll be inspired to do something with your pictures.

Every other week, we’ll have a new Studio10 segment which will allow us to share our ideas and keep you informed of the best, most creative ways to print, create and share the pictures you take of your family — and yes, even the ones on your cell phone!

If you have a great idea on how you are preserving your memories for generations to come, share it with us and we may use it in one of our upcoming segments! We’re looking for crafts, custom framing, wall groupings, photo book & album ideas… you get the idea.

New Year Resolutions

Resolutions-Header

Everyone can make a resolution.  But, can you make a resolution that you can actually stick to?  How many times have you said, “I really need to convert my old VHS tapes” or every time you drop your cell phone you think “Whew! Thank goodness nothing bad happened… I would hate to lose all my pictures.”

We hear you. In fact, we’ve heard from many of you who weren’t so lucky!  So, Calagaz has compiled a list of some resolutions that are very much attainable (and special deals to help you along), and will give you a great feeling of accomplishment!

Resolution #1 – Catch Up On All My Photo Printing. 
We realize that you’re a creature of habit, and you take pictures with your cell phone. We all do!  (Heck, even Leo Calagaz was guilty of snapping the first picture of his newborn granddaughter with his handy little iPhone!)

The problem is, we don’t print those photos and many times the photos on your cell phone are the most cherished because they are spontaneous moments in everyday life.  Inevitably, you will get another cell phone one day.  For what reason is uncertain.  If you’re lucky, you will get a new phone because you just want a new one. But more than likely, something will happen to your phone and force you into getting a new one.  Guess what: If you haven’t printed those photos – they’re gone.  Forever.

So, to help out with this first resolution, now until January 16, all Digital 5×7 Prints are only 99¢ (normally $3.49), and our Photo Calendars are Buy 1, Get 1 Free until February 1!  No excuses, folks!  Start printing here.

Keep an eye out for our e-mail blasts which will highlight each of our resolutions every week this month with a special deal.  Below is a sneak peek of what’s to come!

Resolution #2 – Organize, Restore & Archive My Family’s Old Memories
Our most popular special is coming back!  Shoebox Scans are on sale again, so be sure to keep an eye out for this one!  We’ll also be offering some great deals on slide scanning and video transfers.

Resolution #3 – Make Sure Future Generations Can See My Family’s History
This week will focus on making sure that the photos you take today will be around for generations to come.  Watch for major deals on Photo Books, Canvas Prints, Frames & Albums.  Custom Framing orders this week will also see some deep discounts.  You won’t want to miss this one!

Resolution #4 – Learn Something New
Calagaz offers many classes, workshops and photo-taking outings.  We’ll be announcing new class dates and what’s to come for the year ahead of us.

If you’re not signed up to receive our e-mail blasts, you can do that here. We do some pretty awesome stuff from time to time.  :)