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It’s like a garage sale, if the garage was a camera store

You can still save big bucks on some lenses and cases I found after we moved from the last Chris’ Camera Center store.
TrunkSaleThink of it as a yard sale or a trunk sale or just one last chance to grab a few bargains. And it’s just for a few hours this Friday and Saturday.
  • Friday May 26 from 1-5
  • Saturday May 27 from 10-1

And even if it rains, the show will go on

Here’s what you’ll find: Some lenses and flash units, for example. Lenses are mostly to fit Canon DSLR dameras and a few for Sony. The photo is just a tiny fraction of what you’ll see.
Cases – a few from Thule and Kelly Moore and Tenba and LowePro.
  • Batteries and chargers.
  • Lots of assorted cables.
  • What you to put together a commercial-grade wired computer network.
  • A big all-in-one printer/scanner/fax that will handle 11″x17″ materials. These cost about $275 new, $97
  • A couple of video projectors for computer or video player. Once over $1,000, now $200
  • A computer (or maybe 2).
  • Beauty dish for shoe-mount flash gunsBeautyDish
  • Waterproof action cameras that make a GoPro look like a kid’s toy
  • One 13′ light stand
  • One soft box for that shoe-mount flash gun
  • 360-degree cameras that take movies and stills, for less than half the original price (you can post those wrap-around pix to Facebook now)
Pricing? Much less than they were, and they’ve mostly got brand-new warranties.
And some vintage cameras. Models I hung onto because they looked cool, more than because they were great for picture making. Now you can pick up one or two to put on a shelf in your living room. Some as low as $5. Or up to $500. Roll film, movies, even Polaroids.
In case you hadn’t noticed, we closed the store on Park Avenue. This event is at my small shop on Hampton Avenue. It’s near where Hampton Ave become Trolley Line Road, across from Enloe Aluminum. Here’s a photo:
Once more, it’s just for a few hours this Friday and Saturday.

  • Friday May 26 from 1-5
  • Saturday May 27 from 10-1

And even if it rains, the show will go on


Why are you AFRAID of your slides?

Admit it. You’ve got a ton of slides that you’re actually afraid of.

You’d like to have them converted into a digital format so you could see them again (the old slide projector went to the Goodwill 15 years ago).

Maybe you tried scanning them on a flat bed scanner and realized it would take forever to do them all, and the quality wasn’t all that good.slidescanheader

Maybe you wanted us to do that for you, but even when we are running a sale it can cost a lot. Yeah, they’re priceless memories but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune.

PanavueScannerSuppose you could get a small piece of gear for $130 that would let you preview your slides so you knew what was what – scan them directly to a memory card, so you don’t even need a computer – and make a big 14 megapixel digital file from each one. You can even adjust the brightness an color density on the built-in LCD screen.

Scanning 50 Carousels can seem like a a daunting job, and it would be if you tried to do them all at one time. But if you started tomorrow and did two trays each weekend – maybe while you’re watching TV – you’ll be done by Christmas. Remember, you don’t have to be hooked up to a computer while you’re doing this!

By the way, that same scanner can be used to scan your 35mm negatives, and with an optional holder you can also scan those 110 negatives from your old Pocket Instamatic!

The Pana-Vue Pana-Scan is usually $149.99, including the rechargeable battery system and carriers for both slides and negatives. Say you saw it on this page and it’s just $129.99 thru July 28th.


Photographing Large Groups

Long-time friend Ken Bloehm asked me to take a group photo of a large singing group, the Aiken Singers, and I said “yes” way too quickly. Only then did I start thinking about how to do it.

First, don’t make the mistake of getting too close and using a wide-angle lens. With a wide angle lens and a flash on the camera, the people at the ends – and the people in the back rows – would end up a lot smaller and a lot darker than those front row center.  In order to see all those faces, I wanted to get high. I brought a big step stool and stood on the highest step, about 35 feet back from the singers.

The challenge was how to light such a large group in a relatively dark church. Fortunately I had all the tools I needed at hand. I needed a lot of light. Well, I’ve got a PROmaster SL200 speedlight, which is amazingly powerful. I set it to full power in the manual mode.  (without going into detail, that unit has enough settings it can do anything!)


I wanted to get the flash even higher than the camera, and behind me so it was even farther from the group than the camera. Why? Because a more distant light means the back row of singers won’t be much darker than the front row.

To get the flash really high I used a PROmaster LS-4 light stand. The LS-4 let me get the flash up 13 feet plus. That put it comfortably above my head and the camera lens, so shadows fall behind the subject and it also minimizes red eyes.



With the flash a few yards away from the camera, I had to use a wireless trigger system. (also from PRO).  A transmitter sits in the camera’s accessory shoe, and the flash into the receiver.

I set the camera to ISO 400, the lens to f5, the shutter to 1/160th second.

How can you get all the subjects to keep their eyes open? I used the old trick of waving my left hand and saying “keep your eyes on my hand” to make sure all the eyes were open. Now if I could just have gotten rid of those front couple of pews…


There’s a really big print of this photo at the store.


When fireworks light up the night

Arial fireworks displays make great photos, and they’re relatively easy to do with  a digital camera.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Use a tripod. Absolutely essential, you can’t hold your camera steady for the long exposures (1 second to 30 seconds) that give the best results of arial bursts
  • Choose the right spot. You want a clear view of the sky, without any lights in the foreground (the long exposure you will make allows foreground lights to burn in pretty heavily)
  • Set your camera manually. You’ll be using long exposures to capture 1 or several bursts. 
  • Some basic settings: ISO 200, f8, 2 seconds.
  • Use a self-timer or cable release so you don’t shake the camera. Digital camera self timers can usually be set to a 2-second delay.
  • Manually focus or set the camera to infinity (the “landscape” mode on many small digital models)
  • Turn off the automatic flash.
  • Since you can see the results, feel free to change your settings.

And when you’re done, order a big print on metallic paper!

iPhones take decent photos – but sometimes you need a camera

CameraVphoneSometimes you want more than you can get with that phone. Sure, phones are convenient and you’ve always got them with you. But that camera is crammed in a tiny corner. It doesn’t have a very big sensor and it doesn’t have a zoom lens at all.

“But I can zoom with my phone!” you protest. Not really – the camera just blows up the center few pixels when you zoom. Here’s what I mean – two photos from exactly the same place, one with an iPhone and one with a Canon ELPH 170.

Photo taken with iPhone 5S

Here’s the photo with the iPhone. See that bright red arrow pointing to the “Character” sign”? You can’t even make it out with the iPhone.

Taken with Canon ELPH 170 at maximum zoom

Same spot, with the Canon ELPH 170, from exactly the same location. Now this is not a gigantic camera with a yard-long lens. It’s a skinny little Canon with a 12-power optical zoom lens and a 20 megapixel sensor.

If you scroll up to the top you can see me holding a phone and the Canon camera. The camera is just a little thicker but it’s actually a bit smaller in the length and width department.

Cameras excel in other areas, too. You’ve got far more creative control, better action stopping, and a powerful – controllable – flash unit.


Here’s what those cameras look like (we’ve got them in both blue and silver):

  • 12X zoom is like having a 25-300mm on your old 35mm camera
  • Shoot high definition video anytime, anywhere – it’s got a separate button that is much easier to choose than on your phone
  • 20 Megapixel Sensor, and the pixels are much bigger than the ones in your phone. That means better, sharper photos.

And when you buy this or any other camera from us you get $25 tuition credit toward one of our classes.

Here’s the deal:

$169.99, there’s an Instant Rebate of $30 from Canon making your out-the-door cost just $139.99.

Buy any two memory cards with this camera, get another $15 Instant Rebate.

Offer runs through at least July 2nd, maybe a little longer if I’m feeling generous.




Tips for Terrific Thanksgiving Photos

Tip # 1, of course – visit our new location at 200 Park Avenue Southwest.

But enough about Chris’ Camera Center!

Here are some of our favorite tips for making sure the snaps you shoot are cause for celebration:

Take Ten (Minutes): Before family arrives and things get hectic, spend a few minutes getting your gear in order. If you have images on your memory card, transfer them to your primary computer and reformat the camera card. Charge your camera’s battery and, if you have an external flash, make sure it is also charged with new batteries. Finally, double-check that your lens cleaning cloth is in your bag. One rogue fingerprint can kill an entire series of shots. We’ve got a lot of cleaning products for your camera, they also make your eyeglasses crystal clear.

Timing Matters: Revisit how to use the timer function on your camera. After all, you don’t want to just take the photos – you’ll want to be in them as well! You can do a quick online search for your camera’s model if you’ve forgotten how to use this setting, or just bring it by the store and we’ll be happy to show you.

Taking a selfie? Both cameras and phones take great self-portraits, but be careful using a selfie stick. Some aren’t so well made, and you don’t want to drop your $600 phone or camera on the ground! We can show you how to use the self-timer on your phone too.

Picture Perfect Posing: Getting everyone to cooperate is particularly important when large groups and small children are involved. For posed group portraits, you’re more likely to get cooperation from family earlier in the day. For grandparents and elderly family members, make sure posing includes a comfortable chair for sitting and place others around them according to height. Younger kids can sit cross-legged on the floor in front. Getting engaged smiles is an easier task if you stay connected to them. One accessory that can help is a remote shutter release. It’s one of the most helpful accessories you can keep in your camera bag for shooting family portraits. A wireless shutter release will help you keep your eyes on capturing the perfect family photo. Order yours before the holidays arrive:

Share the Love: With so many choices online, sharing your family photos has never been easier. Take a quick tally to ask how family would like to receive their copies. For example, some grandparents have a Facebook account while others prefer to have hard copies, so consider sending a set of printed photos. Another bonus? You can turn your favorite family photograph into a personalized holiday gift perfect for Christmas or Hanukkah. Come by the store or visit us online to choose the perfect present – and you’ll be far ahead in your holiday shopping!

Chris’ Camera Center is moving around the corner

Right now I’m at the stage where you wonder, “why did I ever start this project?”

The answer: because I needed a leaner, meaner Chris’ Camera Center. One where the design more closely matches what we’ve become over the last few years, which is a Photo Design Center.


That means we’ll take your photo, no matter how it started, and turn it into a product that can be front and center in your life. Whether that means an image on metal or canvas – a panorama that takes up half your wall – a coffee cup or just a conventional 4″ x 6″ print – you can have your choice. You’ll find more samples to help you in the process, and a layout that’s easier to navigate.

Where will we be? At the corner of Park Avenue and Newberry Street, where Park Avenue Paints used to be. In fact, if you hurry you may find the building still says “Park Avenue Paints” but that won’t last for too long. From our current location, walk south to Park Avenue. Turn left and walk to the end of the block.

You’ll probably find parking is more convenient at the new location, and you should find it easier to work on your favorite photo project.

Yes, we’ll still teach classes. Nothing during the month of September, however.

When will we do this? Our target is September 15th, 2015. That’s the day our lab equipment is being moved and that’s the day our phones and internet get hooked up. So there may be some difficulty talking to us that day.

We’re excited and hope you will be too.