World Photo Day: Tips for Exploring the World with Your Camera

When it comes to photography, the world really is our oyster. There are seemingly endless opportunities to capture scenic landscapes, stunning landmarks, and people from every walk of life. In celebration of World Photo Day, our LDExperts Robin Hoffman and Shidan Bartlett, both avid photographers, are sharing tips for photographing their favourite spots around the world and right at home. Keep reading below to learn their tricks of the trade, and be inspired for your next photography excursion!

Hawaii, USA with LDExpert Robin

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Like most things, travel photography takes planning and forethought.  I think that I love the “planning” part of our vacation as much as the actual travel.  To get photos that aren’t just snapshots you need to plan ahead and have the right gear.  I generally start researching a year or more in advance by searching out locations before travelling. This is the key to knowing what you want to see and photograph before you even arrive. I like to Google search images of the locations I am visiting so I can see different vantage points and what each looks like at different times of the day.  A great example of this was during my husband and my recent trip to Hawaii. I had many spots I wanted to photograph but didn’t know where the spots were or how to get there.  My solution was to book a private tour guide that specialized in photography.  The guide in Maui was particularly helpful because instead of worrying about driving on the Road to Hana we sat back and were able to concentrate on the scenery and photography instead.  A local will always know spots off the beaten path and, when someone else is driving, it gives you the opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself.

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Our guide took us deep into the Bamboo Forrest to shoot the waterfall photo you see above, on a hiking trail that I know I would not have found myself or that I wouldn’t have attempted without a guide. The trail was made more challenging after a hurricane the previous week but our guide helped us get to our location unscathed for the most part.

Packing for the location you are going to is equally important.  It is easy to get caught up in an “I will take everything just-in-case” scenario.  Remember that you will need to haul your bag around sometimes on long hikes so be mindful of weight.  It is easy to lose the patience needed to time a great shot if you’re tired from lugging around unnecessary gear.  It is equally important that you remember to take all the things that you don’t typically travel with as well. This is where pre-planning helps.

Again I make a list of everything that I think I “might” need as I am looking for my locations.  Once I am done deciding on the scenic gems I want to shoot, I can add and subtract equipment from the list.  A great example is that I rarely travel with a tripod as they add weight to my already over-packed suitcase (I am in no means a light traveller) but, for our trip to Hawaii, I knew it was a must.  I would need it for the many waterfall and long exposure shots I was planning for on the islands. I also knew that with shooting in midday sun I would need a 10-stop neutral density filter.  A wired shutter release was also necessary, so I could get those beautiful silky waterfalls or the glass-like water at sunset. Both of these shots required anywhere from 3-second to 2-minute exposures that would not be possible without the right equipment.

The settings to get shots like these will depend on time of day and what kind of filters you are using.  The waterfall photo above was a 3-second exposure at f/16 and a 100 ISO using a circular polarizing filter instead of a neutral density filter. Meanwhile, the sunset photo was taken after hiking out onto very sharp lava rocks and shooting 30-second to 2-minute exposures as the sun set. The key to long exposure is to take lots of photos using different settings until you find something that works for you.

Veracruz, Mexico with LDExpert Shidan

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

While travelling sometimes I only have my iPhone with me for quick captures, as my gear is in the hotel safe if going out late at night. The capture in front of ‘El Gran Cafe de la Parroquia’ was from Veracruz, Mexico. This was taken in a moving car with my iPhone! The exposure was 1/15 of a second, with the help of the iPhone’s stabilized lens, it turned out nice. The iPhone’s wide 28mm equivalent lens lets you capture the whole cafe. This cafe has been one of the most well known and historic in all of Mexico, established in 1808! I decided to use the VSCO app (available for iOS and Android) to convert it into monochrome. It is a street capture, seeing the people inside and the tradition of coffee, I loved framing the iconic sign in the photo.

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

Once inside, I again used the iPhone to capture the very beautiful Italian machines that must be several decades old. Remember to capture the details when you visit places, it gives more context to where you are, and allows you to tell detailed stories of where you were.

White Rock, Canada with LDExpert Shidan

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

Here is a local photo taken at dawn from the beach in White Rock, BC, of the famous White Rock Pier.  This was taken using my sturdy Manfrotto aluminum tripod amongst the rocks. The exposure was 2 seconds, aperture of f16 and ISO400.  The 2-second shutter slows the movement of the family of geese in the water in the right of this photo with a beautiful graceful movement. If I would have shot with a longer exposure, I would need to use an ND8 or ND64 filter; the geese wouldn’t appear in my photograph then, but the water would be extra smooth on the shoreline and under the pier. I chose the family of geese, as I feel it added something special to this photo.

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

The photo above is of a ‘Golden Hour’ sunset at Crescent Beach in Surrey, BC. Notice the low angle and leading lines of the pier. This photo was taken with a very small Manfrotto Pixi tripod to keep the angle super low while under the pier. The tripod was a couple of inches in the water, and maybe 6 inches above, so I could capture my foreground subject, the large rock. Use your camera’s self-timer or remote app from your camera manufacturer to release your shutter and avoid any further camera shake. I took several exposures with my circular polarizer filter to ensure I got the exposure and contrast I was envisioning for this photo. To soften the water to that silky smooth look and accentuate that beautiful setting sun and sky my favourite exposure was this one at 14 seconds long, the aperture was f16 and ISO200. Some HDR processing was also applied in post using the Snapseed app (available for iOS and Android) to bring out more dynamic range details in both the rock and barnacles.

Paris, France with LDExpert Robin

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Paris was at the very top of my bucket list for a very long time.  I wanted nothing more than to shoot photos of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral.  Again, these two locations required a great deal of planning before travelling.  First was finding a location that would actually be a great vantage point to see the Eiffel Tower itself.  After a great deal of research, we found that climbing to the top of the Arc de Triumph would give us an incredible spot to emphasize how imposing the tower was and how it dominated the city skyline.  After climbing many stairs to the top, I realized I forgot my circular polarizer at the hotel but did my best to cut thru the haze using HDR settings in my camera.  In some ways, I actually enjoyed my time at the top of the Arc de Triumph more than at the top of the Eiffel Tower and took many shots from its vantage points.  I do HIGHLY recommend shooting from this location and not forgetting your circular polarizer.

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Next it was on to the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral.  I feel so blessed to have had time in this stunning structure before it was damaged by fire.  I loved walking around inside and out. Some of the vantage points in the back courtyard where hardly any people gathered provided much cleaner shots of the great cathedral. Again, this was a location that required graduated neutral density filters or a circular polarizer to photograph properly.  As it was cloudy/rainy the whole time we were in Paris, both of the photos above were shot with f/stops of f/16 and ISO 400-800. I also recommend trying to shoot early in the morning or later in the evening as the light is better and there are fewer tourists around. The polarizers gave more contrast, particularly to the sky but also to the highly detailed structures.  Again, take your time and experiment with the manual and built-in settings in your camera.

Here is a shortlist of some of the equipment I find most helpful when travelling:

Most of all, have fun and remember you are on vacation!

Banff, Canada with LDExpert Shidan

Photo by  Shidan Bartlett

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate while you travel and then suddenly it does! This is the Bow River at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. There was a quick break of rain this day, and instead of continuing to explore the many quaint shops in Banff, I grabbed my Nikon DSLR and went for a walk to the river before the rain came back! A foreground subject really helps with your framing and composition.  Whether it is a canoe, a flower or something else, it gives a nice depth, and adds to your photograph – in this case contrasting colour! The canoe, in the shot above, was great by itself, but hearing the train coming really forced me to be more patient with my shot, instead of walking away to take a photo somewhere else. I waited and waited. I loved the colours of the train’s cargo cars with the canoe in the foreground. To get that beautiful river reflection, it helps that this was taken during the break in the rain, and even though it was very cloudy, it still was a beautiful and inspiring photographic memory. For this shot, I used an exposure of 1/200 second at f7 and ISO 200.

I also wanted to share with you a cool behind-the-scenes photo of the London Drugs Photolab at work printing some of my prints of this shot as 24×36 enlargements, and the process of making some photo books of my photography. These were all actually ordered with our London Drugs Photolab App!

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

Proudly Displaying Your Photos of the World

We all see the world in a unique way – and we capture it in unique ways too! When you’re printing your photos, it’s important to choose a print surface that suits – or even enhances – your unique image. A vibrant shot like Robin’s waterfall photo in Hawaii would look even more stunning on an aluminum metal panel, which would bring out the bright lush green hues. Meanwhile, Shidan’s black and white photo of the Gran Cafe in Mexico would look phenomenal on a textured bamboo or canvas print. In honour of World Photo Day, why not pick your own favourite photo of the world to print today?

Taken photos on your travels using your smartphone? LDExpert Shidan knows the easiest way to showcase them:

As an LDExpert I love to recommend our London Drugs Photolab app (available on iOS and Android) to print all of life’s moments you cherish and even create your own stellar wall prints as well as fabulous photo books from not only your DSLR or Mirrorless cameras but also from our smartphones. Smartphones today take phenomenally better photos than they did in 2009. Sensor, lens technology, and the advent of computational photography, have seriously advanced the quality of everyone’s photography, but my iPhone won’t replace my Fujifilm mirrorless camera or my Nikon DSLR anytime soon! However, like Seattle-based photographer and social artist Chase Jarvis says, sometimes “the best camera is the one that’s with you”. I like to think of my iPhone as complementary to my cameras, and I must say, it is the must-have accessory to use, WITH your camera!

 

About LDExpert Robin Hoffman

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ Saint Augustine

Let me introduce myself, my name is Robin and I am a Photo/Electronics and Mobile Specialist for London Drugs in Kelowna, BC. My love of photography has been a part of me my whole life starting when I was little girl.  I would get film with my allowance so I could take photos with my Diana toy camera. My photography has come a long way since that toy camera and has evolved into shooting with a Sony A7R Mark III.  While I have worked part-time with London Drugs for the past 14 years, my passion lies with photography and travel. As wonderful of a company as London Drugs is to work for, if I am being honest, I work to be able to buy more camera gear and to take at least one bucket-list worthy trip per year.

Follower Robin on Twitter: @ScrapgoddessBC

 

 

About LDExpert Shidan Bartlett

Hello, my name is Shidan Bartlett, a Photo Electronics and Audio Video Department Manager in our Richmond No.3 Road location. I have been a Photography Expert with London Drugs for over 23 years! I am also a local photography instructor and workshop facilitator. Photography has been my passion since I was given my first camera, a Nikon Nikkormat, when I was 18 years old. All the camera gear out there today (and yesterday!) take fantastic photos! You need to be inspired to go out and be creative, take a moment to plan and make those great photos! Share your photos and print your photos. To quote Chase Jarvis, “the best camera is the one that’s with you”; don’t be afraid to not only shoot with your iPhone or smartphone, but to also use it as another tool, and accessory to compliment your camera equipment! Check www.londondrugs.com for London Drugs photographic learning events and photowalks in your area.

Follow Shidan on Instagram: @ShidanBartlett

On the road to adventure with SIGMA lenses! By Liam Doran

Road trip to Spring! By Liam Doran – SIGMA Ambassador 

For many of us living in the mountains or northern latitudes, it’s been a long, cold, white winter. And while often times this can mean fun on the slopes skiing with friends or adventures on snow machines, it also means shovelling roofs and short bleak days. But spring is upon us and it’s time to crack out of winters embrace and trade snow boots for flip flops and shovels for cameras. It’s time for a road trip to find warm weather and springs brave colours!

Its no accident that I live in a geographic location that lets me escape winter in a half days drive or less. West of me is the high desert and all its offerings of camping and biking in a beautiful landscape of red rock towers and pinyon pines that just begs to point your lens at.

While the majority of my photography is assigned by magazines, outdoor brands and tourism boards, this adventure had a simpler directive. Fun. I’d hit the road chasing friends and family and dogs around campsites and trails. Of course, when I’m in such a beautiful place it’s hard not to break away for a few mornings and evenings of landscape and wildlife photography.

More often than not you’ll find me out shooting with professional grade Art and Sport series lenses. But with an emphasis on fun, I decide to lighten up my pack with some key lens choices. SIGMA’S Contemporary lens lineup has some excellent choices that combine optical excellence with lightness and packability. Here’s my kit and why I chose each lens.

The winery next door.
SIGMA 18-50 DC DN.
1/400 sec. f/7.1
ISO 250

Enjoying wine with friends.
SIGMA 18-50 DC DN.
1/250 sec. f/7.1
ISO 250.

Spring on display in the
vineyard.
SIGMA 28-70 DG DN.
1/640 sec. f/5.6
ISO 200.

My primary lens for landscape will be the SIGMA 28-70 DG DN C. This zoom range is critical for the landscape shooter, and it is much lighter the Art lens I usually bring with me. It has a constant f/2.8 aperture, internal zoom and feels great in the hand.

Camping on the river.
SIGMA 28-70 DG DN.
13sec. f/8
ISO 1000.

For hiking and biking I opt for the SIGMA 18-50 DC DN C. This lens is so small and light its almost, dare I say it, cute! Again it features a constant f/2.8 aperture and impressive autofocus speed and accuracy even with fast moving subjects. This is a crop sensor lens but when I mount it to my Sony a9II body the camera automatically goes into crop mode. A very cool, and handy, feature indeed.

Bighorn Ewe in morning light.
SIGMA 100-400 DG DN. 1/250 sec. f/7.1
ISO 1000

Finally, for my wildlife lens I bring the venerable SIGMA 100-400 DG DN C lens. This is one of my favorite lenses in the SIGMA lineup and I have used it extensively. In fact I had it with me on a recent assignment to Norway where it proved its value once again. This lens is light in the pack, fast to focus and features pro level image quality. I have had numerous photos published with this lens and will certainly have more in the future.

This will be my lens trifecta on the road. One important attribute I’d like to point out is versatility. While I state that each lens has a particular subject to shoot, in reality any of these lenses can shoot travel, landscape, wildlife and action sports.

My time on the road chasing spring is simply fabulous. At our first campsite there is a vineyard right next door. And yes, they have a tasting room. We ramble over and sample vineyard right next door. And yes, they have a tasting room. We ramble over and sample some amazing Cabs, Malbecs, and a Chardonnay. Afterwards we settle into camp right on some amazing Cabs, Malbecs, and a Chardonnay. Afterwards we settle into camp right on the banks of the river. The sounds of soft water and crackling fire fill our ears and soothe our the banks of the river. The sounds of soft water and crackling fire fill our ears and soothe our souls as winters grip relaxes and we sigh deep sighs of contentment. souls as winters grip relaxes and we sigh deep sighs of contentment.

Bighorn Ram on his morning run.
SIGMA 100-400 DG DN. 1/500 sec. f/7.1
ISO 1250

Spring lambs playing on the steep slopes.
SIGMA 100-400 DG DN. 1/400 sec. f/7.1
ISO
1250.

Young ram chasing ewe on dusty slopes.
SIGMA 100-400 DG DN. 1/500 sec. f/7.1
ISO 1250.

The next day I take a scenic drive and find myself above beautiful red rock canyons. In the early morning canyon wrens sing their way through the cliffs and bighorn sheep gather after a night sleeping in the rocks. The light is warm and soft as the wind has stirred sand and dust high into the atmosphere taking the edge off the usually hard light found here.

Red rock glowing in the morning light.
SIGMA 28-70 DG DN.
1/10 sec. f/14
ISO 100.
Polarizing filter.

Soft warm light in the high desert.
SIGMA 28-70 DG DN. 1/160 sec. f/7.1
ISO 200.

Peaceful moments in red rock country.
SIGMA 28-70 DG DN. 1/250 sec. f/8
ISO 200.

Our second camp has us right on some premium mountain biking trails that are great for kids just learning to ride and adults with years of experience. It also is a great place for action sports photography as the trails are readily accessible for evening and morning mountain bike shoots.

Sweet singletrack fun. SIGMA 18-50 DG DN.
1/1000 sec. f/6.3
ISO 640.

A wide view of the action. SIGMA 18-50 DG DN.
1/800 sec. f/4
ISO 1250.

After a few days shooting on the road I’m dusty and dirty and ready to head home. Shooting with Contemporary lenses has been incredibly fun and productive. I really enjoy shooting out of a super light pack, especially while riding my bike. If you are heading out for a spring or summer adventure and are looking to reduce the weight and bulk of your kit, I would highly recommend all of the lenses I shot on this road trip. Have fun, be safe and see you out there!

Sunset light on the trail. SIGMA 18-50 DG DN.
1/1000 sec. f/5
ISO 2000.

Last light on the ridge. SIGMA 18-50 DG DN.
1/1000 sec. f/5
ISO 2000.

All photos on Sony a9II camera. Copyright Liam Doran – SIGMA Ambassador

10 Reasons to Bring a Rugged Portable Drive

With travel restrictions slowly easing in select areas around the world, many of us are all the more excited to get out and explore the world again. Whether it be in your own backyard, a long road trip, or an extended getaway across the ocean, our appetite to see the unknown is only rivalled by our eagerness to share our experiences with everyone else. And with mobile phone cameras becoming all the more advanced, and digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras becoming all the more accessible it’s no surprise that we are capturing and sharing our moments faster than ever.

But picture this: you’re on day three of a week-long once-in-a-lifetime vacation when you realize you’ve just about filled your memory card on your camera. What do you do? Situations like this are all too common, which is why an external rugged portable drive can help relieve this stress-point. Here’s 10 reasons why you should consider a rugged portable drive on your next holiday.

  1. Larger storage capacity. Memory cards can be limited in their capacity. With 32gb or 64gb being common capacities, portable drives can come in much larger capacities—10x these amounts or sometimes even more! 1TB (1000gb) portable drives can safely store all the photos and videos you take on your next holiday…and more than likely the one after that one too.
  2. SSDs: Solid State Drives (SSDs) contain no moving parts inside the hard drive. This means more stability and reliability when it’s bouncing around in your backpack on your next hiking adventures or rolling around in your suitcase in your next city exploration.
  3. Rugged: With extra padding all around to safeguard the physical drive from accidental hits or falls, you’ll be confident in its ability to withstand any bumps on the road you may encounter.
  4. Water-resistant: How many cameras and memory cards can say they can be splashed with water and still work properly? Rugged portable drives are water-resistant so you can rest easy knowing you can take your portable drive on a portaging trip and it will keep your memories safe from rain, splashes or even spills on the hard drive.
  5. Speed: Rugged portable drives are more than likely much faster to work with than the memory card in your camera. Transferring photos and videos will be a breeze when you take advantage of USB-C or Thunderbolt connections that are readily available on the latest rugged portable drives. While typical SD cards can transfer at rates of about 100mb/s, SSD speeds can be much greater at up to 2800mb/s.
  6. Connectivity: Speaking of file transferring, rugged portable drives will be compatible with multiple types of ports, giving you the peace of mind that you can use these drives on Windows and Mac computers without connectivity issues.
  7. Mobile connectivity: Very few—if any—memory card will connect directly to your mobile device. Some rugged portable drive models will allow you to connect your iPhone or Android device directly to the hard drive. With the use of an app, you can transfer all your mobile device photos and videos onto the rugged portable drive freeing up space on your mobile phone. You can organize and review your photos directly off of the rugged portable drive creating an efficient workflow, giving you more time to enjoy your vacation.
  8. Backups: You can never have too many back ups of your files. Transferring files from your memory card to the rugged portable drive allows you to free up your memory card for more images and videos. If something happens to your camera or memory card, you can breath easy knowing that your memories up to that point are safely stored in a location separate from your camera.
  9. Use without a computer. Memory cards typically require you to connect directly to your computer to transfer files. This requires you to bring your laptop wherever you go. For cases where you don’t want to lug around a heavy laptop during your adventures, a rugged portable drive that can connect to your memory card reader is your go-to solution in this case. Accepting multiple port types, and even containing an internal SD card reader, the rugged portable drive lets you copy your photos and videos from your memory card directly to the drive, without the use of a computer. Now that’s convenience!
  10. Peace of mind. You spend hundreds—maybe thousands—of dollars on your holiday adventure so why risk keeping your precious moments on just one small memory card that can get corrupted by a number of reasons. Use a rugged portable drive to keep your sanity and your photos in a safe place. You’ll be reassured that when you return home your files will all be readily accessible on your hard drive, ready to be worked on whenever you need to. There’s no putting a price on peace of mind now is there?

 

A Freelancer’s Best Friend

As a freelance photographer, I can often find myself in any number of situations where I don’t want to solely rely on my one memory card in my camera. Having a small rugged portable hard drive to back up the files on my memory card gives me the added peace of mind knowing that I have a backup available at the tip of my fingers.

Having a rugged portable drive also lets me be more care-free with where I put this hard drive. The added bumper gives me the allowance of putting the hard drive wherever I have space in my pack. Whether that’s loose in my backpack or tucked away in a pocket inside the bag, it can handle any bumps or bruises it may get along my journey. It’s even safe from accidental drops of up to 4ft. Now that’s reassurance!

So many times I didn’t want to carry my laptop during my trip because it packs on a few extra pounds. But with the rugged portable drive that allows for direct connection, I can leave my laptop at home and connect my memory card reader directly to the rugged portable drive to transfer files off my memory card. If I connect my iPhone to the rugged portable drive I can see my images, organize and review them right on the spot so when it’s time to edit them on my computer, I have all the ones I need to edit already marked and ready to go.

Video-Ready

More recently than ever I’ve been experimenting with video footages wherever I go. Video will however take up so much more space than a photo will, which means you will need a large capacity hard drive to accommodate all of your video needs. Furthermore, a hard drive that’s capable of handling fast read and write rates are required if you want to work on 4k slow motion or 8k video files. These rugged portable drives come packed with the latest technologies letting me edit videos directly off the hard drives which is super convenient.

Tips for Vacation Photos

On your next vacation, try incorporating these tips to create even more memorable photos you’ll be proud to share with your family and friends.

  1. Golden hour photography. To get the best light of the day, try photographing landscapes during the hours surrounding sunrise and sunset. These are the moments when the light is soft and warm, bringing in a welcoming feeling to your images. And with the right conditions, you might just get one spectacular showing from Mother Nature.
  2. Incorporate a landmark. When photographing landscapes or even portraits during your vacation, be sure to include a landmark of some kind to indicate where you are. This will give the viewers an idea of where you were standing when you took the photo. If there’s no landmark, find out what makes the place unique to that location. Then, incorporate that unique element in the photo to create a more memorable image.
  3. Rule of Thirds. The easiest thing to do is to centre the subject in your frame…but that’s just boring. The Rule of Thirds dictates that if you divide your viewfinder with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines, making a grid of nine rectangles, you place the subject anywhere along those lines or where the lines intersect with each other. This makes for a much more dynamic image creating more interest by offsetting your subject.
  4. Cherish the moment. Arguably the most important thing to do on your vacation is to enjoy the moment with your own eyes. Photos will allow you to relive the moment after the fact, but there’s no replacement for experiencing the moment for the very first time with your own senses. What you saw, smelled, felt, and heard at that very moment is what will allow you to capture the moment in its most authentic way, letting you come home with perfect pictures you’ll be proud to show off to your family and friends.

Photography Tips for Beautiful Mother’s Day Photos

Whether you’re planning to snap adorable shots of your mom this year or take your photography to the next level and set up some Mother’s Day photoshoots, our Photolab Technicians have put together some great tips to help you along the way! Keep reading for some Mother’s Day photography inspiration, and don’t forget to check out our blog on best locations for Mother’s Day photos to help you pick an ideal location to put these tips to good use!

Gift her a day together

Mother’s Day is the perfect time to bring together the two things you love, photography and mom! Gift her a day out together and take your camera along to capture all the fun. Plan out a route along her favorite spots across the city and snap some great candid moments of her reminiscing of fond memories or posing against a gorgeous sunset backdrop. As a perfect way to treasure the memory, surprise her with a framed photo or prints of the best shots! They’ll show her how beautiful she is to you, inside and out.

Organize a Mother’s Day photoshoot

Ready to take your photography to the next level? Set up a Mother’s Day photoshoot for family & friends. It’s a sweet way to appreciate all the amazing moms you know!

With summer on the way, you may need to use flash-fill to compensate for the lighting and improve your outdoor portraits. Meter the background area behind your subject, using either a light meter or the in-camera meter. Capture a test shot and examine it to make sure there are no blown out highlights in the brightest part of your image. Once you’re satisfied with the background exposure you may realize that your subject appears too dark in relation to the background. You would then need to match the foreground exposure with fill-flash. To do that, you can use either a speedlight or a studio strobe with the light modifier of your choice.

Mom & me – then and now

A popular shot for Mother’s Day on social media is the ‘Then and Now’ photographs with a childhood photo and a recent photo with mom. It’s sure to bring a heartwarming smile to her face, and maybe even a tear to her eye.

Don’t forget to check out our selfie sticks, tripods and camera remotes to help capture the perfect present-day shot! As the perfect gift to mom, order one of our photobooks curated with your best shots over the years!

And if you end up going down a rabbit hole looking at all your mom’s old print photos and realize some are starting to fade, why not have them all digitally preserved, as a special gift to mom? You can use our Photo Scanning Box or Slide Scanning Box services to easily have photos and slides digitized so mom’s most precious memories are safe for a lifetime.

Newbie moms

Becoming a mother is an incredibly special time. Spend your first Mother’s Day capturing your newborn’s adorable expressions & antics! Experiment with different angles, like this closeup of their tiny feet, or snap some photos of them playing or sleeping. If you’re taking photos of your partner, try to snap some quiet moments of mom and baby cuddling, or some more lively candids of the two interacting. Once you’re done, our photo books are the perfect way to print and cherish those memories.

 

Whatever your plans for Mother’s Day, don’t forget to check out our wide range of products from keychains to jewelry boxes that you can customize with your photographs to gift your mom. If you’re looking to surprise your mom this Mother’s Day with a framed family photo that she will cherish forever. When ordering prints, our London Drugs Photolab App offers the best convenience and is available for iOS and Andriod. Or you can simply order online or visit your nearest London Drugs store!

Cyber Week Tech Deals

Black Friday continues, and Cyber Week has begun! Be sure not to miss these hot tech offers on TV’s, gaming accessories, cameras and more!

The Razor Home Run Gaming Bundle has everything you need to get gaming on your PC in no time. It’s backlight keyboard has a comfortable wrist pad, and it’s over hear headphones come complete with a mic.

Having a dashcam is a great way to capture what you see on the road. In the unlikely event you are involved in an incident, having the video can help show exactly what took place. The Thinkware F70 Dashcam records at 30 frames per second in full HD1080p, and features 140 degree viewing angle for a wide view of the road.

Garmin Fenix 6 SmartWatch combines the best features of Garmin’s fitness and outdoor watches, Fēnix 6 is the multisport GPS watch that brings cutting-edge design and performance to your fast-paced lifestyle.

The Skyworth 55 inch 4K Android Smart TV UC7500 Series features a premium bezelless design for a stunning edge-to-edge picture without a visible frame. A reduced frame dimension allows placement of a larger screen size in the same space on the wall or cabinet for an optimal viewing experience. Chameleon Extreme technology provides advanced and optimized colour, contrast and picture quality, while 360 immersive sound brings your home theatre even further to life with Dolby Digital and DTS TruSurround.

Combine productivity and entertainment when you use this Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 laptop. The 14-inch Full HD glossy display boasts touchscreen functionality for easy swiping and scrolling, while the AMD Ryzen 5 processor and 8GB of system memory deliver dependable operation. A 512GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive speeds up load times for easy access to apps and games. With a 360-degree hinge, this Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 laptop converts into a tablet for flexible use options.

Upgrade your travel vlogs or livestreams with this Sennheiser MKE 200 mobile kit. The MKE 200 directional on-camera microphone and included windscreen work to capture your voice with clarity in almost any location, while a smartphone clamp keeps your device in place and ready to shoot. A Manfrotto PIXI mini tripod makes it simple to set up a stunning shot. Including two coiled cables, this Sennheiser MKE 200 mobile kit supports use with a generous array or smartphones or cameras.

The Fujifilm INSTAX Mini 11 instant camera comes equipped with a new Automatic Exposure function, making it easier to snap-and-shoot instant photos than ever before. Also included is the new Selfie Mode, with a built-in close-up lens and selfie mirror that allow you to get up-close-and-personal for the perfect selfie every time. The camera has a minimal new design available in 5 brand new colours, all in a more compact size. Each camera also comes with 2 custom shutter buttons. Expressing yourself has never been easier than with the Mini 11!

More power. More clarity. More stability. The GoPro HERO9 sports a beastly sensor for ridiculous 5K video and stunning photos. A dazzling front display delivers a live preview for easy framing, while a large rear touchscreen with touch zoom provides fast, intuitive control. HERO9 boasts a powerful feature suite, including HindSight, and supports live streaming and webcam mode as well. A great gift for the adventure seeker in your life.

6 Photography Tips for Capturing Great First Day of School Photos

Back to school can be many things: emotional, stressful, hectic, exciting or all of the above. Most importantly though, it should be memorable. Capturing the memories of your little ones heading off on their first day of kindergarten, or their first day of the new school year can be a fun annual tradition. We’ve put together some tips on how to capture the day, so your photos pop, and the memories live on.

1. Do Some Planning

Planning your back to school photos is the first step. It might seem like you can just capture what you see on the day, but a quick 5 minute plan will help ensure you capture everything you’re hoping to, and won’t look back on your photos wishing you had remembered a key shot. It can be as simple as a shot list of must-have photos, or as complex as getting props, coordinating colours and upgrading your camera equipment. If you’d like to go all in, you can even have a custom lunch box kit made by our London Drugs Photolab with a photo of the family pet, or a shot from your summer vacation and incorporate that into your first day of school shoot! The plan all comes down to what your goal is, and what time you have available.

2. Pick Your Background Wisely

Do you ever wonder why certain photos just pop so much more than others? A very simple way to improve the overall aesthetic of your back to school images is to be very conscientious of the background. There are a couple key components to this: distance, technical settings, and content.

Compare the two images above. Notice how in the doorway (image left), separation between the subject and the background is lost, whereas when shooting with more distance between the child and home (image right), it creates a nice clean separation.

Another element of backgrounds is clean walls. It could be a colourful wall, a fence, or even the side of the house. A clean clutter-free background will let your little one pop as the subject and remove all the visual distractions in the image.

Lastly if you want to put a little more planning in, or are dropping them off at school, think about incorporating the school into the background, or the bus rounding the corner. This idea would require a little more thought and timing, but can lead to pictures that have that added storytelling element.

3. Shoot at Their Eye Level

 

Get down on a knee so you’re aiming the camera straight at your child, instead of aiming the camera down on them. This will play into that background point above, and will make your horizon line seem more natural vs when shooting from your eye level. This is a technical point many photographers overlook, but will really help make the image pop. Compare the vantage point in the two images above, and how they impact the image. Notice how when shot at their eye level (image right), the image has more depth, and pulls the viewer in?

Now that we have our background all sorted, let’s dive into the most important part of the image: your child!

4. Have Fun with Props and Outfits

This is where you can let your creativity shine. What would you like to incorporate into the image? Your imagination is the only limit here. Some parents have an adult-size “Grad 20XX” t-shirt made. They photograph the child in it every year until they finally fit into it, creating a very fun growth visual year over year.

Others make chalk boards with stats like: age, grade, teacher, school. This can be done by writing directly on the board, or by adding it using an editing program afterwards.

Our Photolab also offers My First Day Of School photo templates, so you can easily pop in a photo of your child and add their info in, like age, current likes, favourite subject, what they want to be when they grow up, and the date. Simply visit your local London Drugs Photolab, fill out the order form with the info above, and submit it to our LDExperts with your chosen photo. We can print you as many 8×10’s as you like!

Another fun idea is to print out last year’s photo as an 8×10 print, and have your child hold it up.  As the years go on, the image slowly gains depth as each year, if you look closely, you can see the previous year’s photo continually disappearing like opposing mirrors.

5. Shoot More Not Less

It’s better to shoot a wide variety of images so you have lots to choose from, rather than not shooting enough and later wishing you had taken more. And if you happen to love all of your first day of school shots, you can print a back to school photo book showcasing a whole bunch of them! Another fun idea is to create custom photo gifts for family. And, if you pop into your local London Drugs Photolab, ask about the Take and Create options for custom children art items! You can have them draw their first day of school using our Take and Create booklets, and then our Photolab can print those drawings on a mug, magnets or even coasters for the grandparents!

6. Shoot with Shallow Depth of Field (Bonus Tip for Advanced Users)

If you’re using a smartphone camera, portrait mode replicates the shallow depth of field effect. If you’re using a mirrorless or DSLR and aren’t too familiar with the manual settings, use aperture priority mode.

In aperture priority, use the smallest F stop number available on your lens (usually somewhere between F1.8-F4). This will let the camera calculate everything else and you can focus on your shot. This is what creates that beautiful blurred background and even more levels of separation. The image above shows the aperture blades at different F stops. The more open, the shallower the depth of field is.

 

Hopefully these tips inspire you to have some fun with your camera this back to school season, and create memories you and your children can cherish forever. Remember to print your photos and remove them from the digital-only realm. Prints are great for framing, but you can also use these images in lots of other creative ways, like on a mug for grandma, or on next year’s family calendar (for the month of September, of course).  Or explore our Photolab website for many more unique ways to share your child’s first day of school memories.

The Ultimate Guide to Personalizing Your Wedding Invites & Save-the-Dates

Calling all brides and grooms-to-be! For those who have been waiting patiently this past year to host a wedding in the presence of family and friends, it looks as though the time has finally come to start planning, as COVID restrictions begin to lift!

With so many weddings pushed until later in 2021 or until 2022, as well as many newly engaged couples looking to tie the knot in the next year, it’s best to get those save-the-dates out as soon as you can! That way, you can ensure your friends and family will have your wedding marked down before their calendars fill up.

Save-the-dates and wedding invitations are your way to not only announce the details of your big day, but are a chance for you to create a beautiful keepsake that both you and your guests can cherish. To make those keepsakes extra special, adding some personalization is important. With the help of our Photolab, you can create one-of-a-kind wedding cards, like save-the-dates and invitations, that truly capture the love you and your partner share.

Feature Your Photos

Before we dive into all the ways to design your save-the-dates and wedding invites, let’s talk about photos. Many photographers offer wedding photo packages that include engagement photos. This is not only a great way to get comfortable with your photographer and being in front of the camera before your big day, but is also a way to get some photos ahead of the wedding that you can then use to personalize your save-the-dates and invitations.

If you haven’t shot your engagement photos yet, let your photographer know that you’d like to use some photos for your save-the-date and invitations, and they can help plan out a shoot to fit the look and feel that will match your cards.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind, from some local wedding and engagement photographers:

 

1. Do your shoot during golden hour

Photo Credit: @bdfk_photography

“The most important thing is to ask the photographer to take the photos at sunset or sunrise. It is golden hour for the photographer when the lighting conditions are the best. We took this photo during sunrise. We prefer to shoot during sunrises because there are not a lot of people around. Most of the time we are shooting alone with the couple, so the couple will be more relaxed, when there is nobody around looking at them.” – @bdfk_photography

 

2. Strive for real vs. ‘perfect’ moments

Photo Credit: @justinerussophotographer

“Don’t worry about getting ‘perfect’ photos, let yourselves be seen as you are together. Whisper inside jokes, think about how excited you are to marry this person, and have fun with it! Bring drinks, choose your favourite spot for photos, wear your favourite outfit and have fun with it!” – @justinerussophotographer

 

3. Splash around and let loose

Photo Credit: @cojophoto

“Plan your engagement session at the beach, for sunset! Bring a bottle of champagne and pop that bottle for all the fun! Be prepared to get in the water and splash around and just let loose! You won’t regret it and it will be something you’ll remember forever” – @cojophoto

If you aren’t doing engagement photos, then why not dig through your old photos together? You’re bound to find some gems. Maybe it’s a photo from when you first met – or that as well as a photo of you two now, to show how you’ve grown together. Another great place to look is photos from other weddings you’ve been to together. Wedding photographers often capture great candid shots of guests, so if you can get your hands on a photo of you two together, that could be the one!

Save-the-Dates

The function of your save-the-dates is to give your guests a sneak peek at what to expect for your wedding (and to literally save the date in their calendar, of course). For instance, if you plan to have a formal wedding, it makes sense to give your save-the-dates a more formal tone too. Our Photolab has a selection of save-the-date templates so you can find the right one to set your tone.

Save-the-dates are often printed on a flat card, as it’s a smaller amount of info being shared than the full wedding invitation. We have both single-sided photo cards and postcards that fit the bill. For the postcards, you can choose from 9 specialty papers (see below), which can also help you set the tone of your save-the-dates. If you’re planning to send your save-the-dates by mail, our postcards are a great choice; you’ll be able to just stick on a stamp and an address and pop them in the mail!

Specialty papers Techweave, Woodgrain and Stipple not pictured here. Visit your local London Drugs Photolab to see samples.

The next step is to upload photos to the template to fully personalize your save-the-dates. As we mentioned above, engagement photos are a great choice. Or, just pick a favourite photo you have of the two of you.

Of course, your save-the-date is also meant to share key wedding details with your guests. Below are a few things to consider including on your cards. In addition to personalizing your save-the-dates with photos, our templates give you the ability to add text as well.

Details to include on your save-the-dates:

  • You and your fiancé(e)’s names
  • Wedding date
  • Wedding location (doesn’t need to be the venue name – can just be the city)
  • Wedding website URL (which may have additional info available for guests, including your gift registry)
  • ‘Invitation to follow’ or another phrase that lets your guests know if you will also be sending out a wedding invitation at a later date

Generally, it’s recommended to send out your save-the-dates 4 to 6 months before the wedding, to allow your guests enough time to book off the date and/or make travel arrangements.

Wedding Invitations

While save-the-dates are often single-sided cards, wedding invitations can also be double-sided or folded. After all, there is more information to share! Based on your preference, you can choose from our single-sided photo cardsdouble-sided cardspostcards and folded cards. Like the save-the-dates, our postcards can be printed on specialty paper, as can our double-sided and folded cards. All of our cards (excluding postcards) also come with envelopes included, so you’ll be all set to add addresses and send them off.

In addition to choosing your card style and template, just like the save-the-dates, you’ll be able to completely personalize your wedding invitations digitally with photos and text. Invitations don’t always have images included, but if you’d like to personalize with a photo or two, you could use some additional photos from your engagement shoot if you did one, or select photo(s) you already have of the two of you.

Your invitations will give your guests a full picture of your wedding day, beyond the limited info on your save-the-date. Here are some details we recommend including on your wedding invitations:

  • You and your fiancé(e)’s names
  • Wedding date and time
  • Wedding location (venue details)
  • Dress code
  • Wedding website URL (which may have additional info available for guests, including your gift registry)
  • Info on how to RSVP and RSVP deadline (either a separate RSVP card, or a wedding website URL)

Pro tip: Create a Photolab account so that you can save a copy of your personalized wedding invitations. That way, if you need to re-send an invitation or send more invitations, you’ll still have a copy ready to order again! This is also helpful if you need to send out a second round of invitations, as you’ll be able to update the RSVP deadline date if necessary.

Depending on if you’re sending your wedding invitations internationally or within the country, the rule of thumb is to send them out 12 weeks or 6-8 weeks ahead of your wedding date, respectively.

Thank You Cards

Once you’ve said your I Do’s, it’s customary to send out a final card to your guests. A wedding thank you card allows you to personally thank your guests for joining you on your special day, as well as let them know your appreciation for any wedding gifts they may have given you (don’t forget to keep track of which gifts are from which guest).

Thank you cards are also a great way to share some of your favourite photos from your wedding day! Ensure you receive a digital copy of your photos from your wedding photographer, so that you can incorporate some of them into your thank you card template. Some people also like to tuck a couple individual print photos into the card for guests; easy enough – just choose a print that will fit inside your selected card style (you’ll want to go with folded cards for this one).

You could also use our thank you card templates for other wedding-related events like your bridal shower. Thank your guests for attending and for any gifts you received, and let them know you’re thrilled they will be there with you on your wedding day.

Pro tip: Rather than adding a handwritten note to each of your cards, save yourself the hand cramp by personalizing each of your thank you cards digitally! Once you’ve created a Photolab account and have saved your personalized card, you’ll be able to update it for each guest. Then simply add each card to your order.

Thank you cards are usually sent out within 3 months of the wedding.

 

Need some help creating the perfect wedding invites, save-the-dates or thank you cards? Visit our LDExperts at any London Drugs Photolab! You’ll be able to personalize your cards using our in-store kiosks, and our LDExperts will be there to answer any questions you might have. If you’re ready to get started right away, just hop over to our London Drugs Photolab website to start customizing!

 

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