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 LDPhotolab website for many more unique ways to share your child’s first day of school memories.

 

In the Field with the New Sony RX100-VII Camera

Sony has just dropped their RX100-VII compact point-and-shoot camera! Our LDExperts had the opportunity to take it into the field at the Richmond Sunflower Festival and put it to the test. Watch the video below to get a peek into the camera’s key features and see actual footage from the RX100-VII. Then keep reading below to find out what we think (and catch our exclusive video with Jin from Sony Canada at the bottom of this post)!

The Sony RX100-VII is the seventh iteration of Sony’s top-end point-and-shoot RX100 line. The newest incarnation brings many features of the A9 mirrorless into a compact pocketable camera. The all-new 20.1 MP, 1” stacked sensor can capture bursts at 20 frames per second, has incredible autofocus and can create 4K HDR video!

The impressive spec list of this camera doesn’t stop there. The most notable performance upgrades come in the video features. Sony decided to include an integrated 3.5” microphone jack, and continuous autofocus with face, eye and object detection in video mode (including eye detect for animals). Combined, these features open this camera up to anyone looking to create high-quality video content with sound.

Equipped with a Zeiss 24-200mm F2.8-4.5 lens, this camera can achieve nice wide-angle shots for up-close action, with the telephoto abilities to get right in on the action from the sidelines. The burst mode of 20 frames per second with no blackout or dropped frames is lightning fast, and ensures you can capture those moments of high-speed action.

Having it out in the field at the sunflower festival, we spotted a hummingbird to put the camera’s quick focus and burst mode to the test. When we spotted it, we quickly pulled the camera out hoping to capture the shot. To our pleasant surprise, the camera powered up, and zoomed in in no time.  The autofocus instantly locked in on the hummingbird and the burst mode captured it beautifully. The quick response of the RX100-VII proved it as a capable pocket power machine.

These features also translate well for parents with active kids. The autofocus and burst mode combine to make sure you always capture your children in any activity they are participating in.

It’s also great for shooting in manual mode! For the more seasoned photographer, the camera’s manual controls allow full control over all settings, to really capture the shot you want. The front ring dial also allows for a custom experience by choosing what setting it controls.

Overall, our impression was how capable this camera was for such a small package. We strongly recommend it for anyone looking for a serious upgrade from their phone, but without diving into the interchangeable lens world.

Watch Jin from Sony Canada walking through even more camera feature highlights.

Pick up your Sony RX100-VII at London Drugs here!

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

Expert Tips for Bringing Your Camera on Your Next Camping Trip

A camping trip is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer – especially in the summertime! It’s all about turning off your phone, breathing in that fresh air, enjoy others’ company, and taking in the beauty of nature. For Canmore Alberta-based photographer Sarah Magyar, it’s also an opportunity to snap some truly great photos to remember the whole experience. If you’re keen to capture your next camping adventure, you’ll want to check out Sarah’s 7 tips below for bringing your camera along while camping.

Bringing my camera camping is something I always do. I don’t necessarily bring it for ‘professional’ photography reasons, but more so I can capture moments. My friends and I camp a lot, even if half of us have to work the next day, so bringing my camera means I get to capture and keep memories of smiling faces, people enjoying each other’s company and most importantly people shoving hotdogs and smores in their mouth!

Don’t forget your camera

So tip #1 for bringing your camera on your next camera trip is well, bring it! Capturing those authentic memories will mean more to you than the most perfect landscape image. Capture the moments that you want to hold on to forever: the ones you can look back on in years to come that will bring a smile to your face and remind you of the way things smelt, felt and looked.

Pack your lenses in the car

Tip #2! If you’re car camping, bring a few lenses, or all your gear! There are so many opportunities for photos while camping: portraits, landscapes, products, sports, the list goes on! So you’ll want to make sure you have all your lenses so you don’t miss an opportunity to get the perfect shot. Plus, you’re car camping so it’s not like you have to lug it around with you, just keep it safe and locked in your car!

Have extra batteries on-hand

Tip #3 don’t forget the extra batteries! We’ve all been there, you have the perfect shot lined up, you go to flip the switch to turn on your camera and it doesn’t turn on. I must say it is one of the worst feelings in the world! Making sure you double, even triple check will guarantee you won’t miss that awesome shot!

This is especially important to remember while backcountry camping as batteries can drain faster in the cold. Also, when you’re in the backcountry, there’s no outlets which means no charging your batteries if they die. I always make sure to bring at least two, or three, extra batteries with me when backcountry camping.

London Drugs has a great selection of batteries for almost all cameras! Added bonus they also offer a wide assortment of chargers for your batteries if you’re looking to charge all your batteries at once.

Keep your camera cool

Onto tip #4: if you’re going to be leaving your gear in the car while camping and it is hot out, you’ll want to protect it! Bring an empty cooler or something that will keep your gear cool and out of the heat. This will also protect it in the back of your car. I find this also helps with lens changes. Camping can be dirty and dusty, so make sure to keep your sensor and lens protected and clean.

Bring a portable tripod

Tip #5: Invest in a good/packable/reliable tripod! This will give you a chance to set up some great landscape shots, or allow you to maybe get in the frame and capture some memories with you and your friends. A tripod is always a good thing you to keep with you, especially if it’s small and doesn’t take up too much room.

Invest in a good backpack

Tip #6 is for both car camping and backcountry camping: invest in a good backpack! This will allow you to keep all your gear together. My bag has a rain cover which is essential when I am backcountry camping; the weather is unpredictable in the mountains and you never know if it might rain! I personally have a backpacking backpack that I put a camera insert in, however you can purchase bags with camera inserts in them. Having a good backpack will also help protect your gear when you are putting it in the back of the car or keeping your backpack in the tent with you while you sleep.

Get to know your surroundings

Tip #7: If you are a landscape photographer make sure to know the area that you’re camping in. Make sure you know where the sun will set and rise to make sure you capture those beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Whether you’re car camping or backcountry camping, know where you’re going to be sleeping and do a quick internet search to see if there is anything unique in the area you might want to capture.

Use a camera clip

Tip #8 is primarily for backcountry camping and something I find to be essential. Invest in a good camera clip that attaches to your backpack strap. Some are sleeves that slide onto your backpack strap and some are metal clips you clip on. I love capturing moments during camping trips and this allows me to have my camera accessible at any moment so I don’t have to stop and pull out my camera and slow everything down.

Print your favourite shots

When I’m finally home from an amazing backpacking or camping trip I always try to order some of my favourite images as prints. This allows me to keep those moments with me. It is also a great gift idea! Have a great photo of your best friend laughing at the campfire? Why not put it on a mug or a blanket or pillow? Better yet, you can create a poster collage of a whole bunch of images from that trip, or even use those photos to create your own calendar! The London Drugs Photolab has a great selection of different ways you can print your favourite memories and share them with your friends, or keep them for yourself.

7 Hikes for Stunning Photos This Summer

Sparkling blue lakes, panoramic views of endless mountain chains, calm meadows with wildflowers blowing in the breeze and breathtaking scenery all come to mind when you think about hiking in the Canadian Rockies. With the endless amounts of trails and mountains to summit, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with all the possibilities of capturing amazing moments, wildlife or perfect landscapes. To help get you started, Canmore Alberta-based photographer Sarah Magyar has compiled her top 7 hikes to capture stunning photos this summer,  – some easy and some a little more difficult!

1. Tower of Babel

This is one of my all-time favourites. I am not one to re-do hikes, there are just too many to experience out here! However, this is one I try to do every year. It offers amazing views of the Valley of Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake and Consolations Lake.

It’s short but difficult, and is more of a scramble than a hike, but the views at the top are worth the physical effort. There are awesome rocks you can sit on, lakes you can shoot from above, and of course you can capture the world-renowned Moraine Lake.

2. Devil’s Thumb

Devil’s Thumb is an awesome hike in Lake Louise I would rate as moderate/difficult. The trail passes by Mirror Lake, Lake Agnes, Lake Agnes Tea House and Big Beehive making it one of the most photographic hikes I’ve done. You have the opportunity to capture some of the most picturesque spots in Lake Louise.

You follow the trail to Big Beehive then hang a right up to the top. You don’t actually get to the views of Big Beehive doing Devil’s Thumb but you pass right by the trail and I highly recommend adding the extra 500m to 1km to your trip as it offers an unbeatable view of Lake Louise.

3. Parkers Ridge

Parker’s Ridge is located along the Icefields Parkway and is an easy/moderate hike. Once you’re at the top you get awesome views of the Saskatchewan Glacier and of the Parkway. Highly recommend this one for families and anyone trying to capture something different such as a glacier!

4. Rock Pile at Moraine Lake

It is no secret Moraine Lake is one of the most beautiful (and popular!) places in Canada – in fact it used to be on the Canadian $20 bill! The Rock Pile hike is super easy and good for all ages. It will allow you to get the perfect shot of Moraine Lake, just like you’ve seen all over Instagram.

For an added bonus, visit at sunrise and walk to the dock where the canoes are. Whether it’s a cloudy morning or a clear one, it will be mesmerizing.

5. Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is another classic spot to stop and capture the amazing blue of the lake. Some even say it looks like a wolf head! This is a heavily trafficked location and it is best to go and catch at sunset. The hike up is super easy and leisurely so it’s good for any and all ages!

6. Athabasca Falls

This waterfall is one you don’t want to miss and is along the most beautiful road, the Icefields Parkway. You have the chance to walk to the waterfall and continue to look over the gorge. This is a magical place and offers a few different perspectives for you to get creative photos!

7. Wasootch Ridge

Located in Kananaskis, this hike is a little more difficult. The beginning is steep and you gain quite a bit of elevation, but the views are worth the effort. You get views of both sides of the valley as well as the well-known mountain in Kananaskis called Yamnuska. Again, this hike offers the opportunity to get a few different shots all in the same day!

 

Getting these shots is half the fun! I love going home, plugging in my memory card and ordering prints, or fun gear, of my pictures! The London Drugs Photolab does an awesome job of printing shots and making them look just as vibrant and beautiful as they do on the computer and in real life. Between aluminum metal panels, canvas gallery wraps, bamboo prints, and calendars, they’ve got tons of options to make your images come to life. They even have two brand new fine art papers: Kauai and Baryta! Kauai is a smooth cotton paper that is designed for a long life, and is the best choice for prints that require Museum Grade quality. Meanwhile, Baryta is a bright white cotton paper that is ideally suited for photographic images, yielding a high D-Max with exceptional tonal range. Both worthy of your best images!

#Real Experts: The Ultimate Lens Guide for Amateur Photographers

Getting the shot you want as an amateur photographer can be difficult. From camera gear, to lenses, to the spirit behind the image, there is much to consider! Choosing the right tools for the job is essential to elevating your photography and making your photos stand out.

Luckily, Brayden Hall, Vancouver-based adventure, lifestyle, travel photographer, videographer and social media influencer, has a few insights to help you select the right lenses and equipment to get the images you crave.

If you fancy yourself a photographer, his advice will help you get that perfect shot for Instagram or to display and enjoy on your wall at home.


photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


1. Everyone’s story is unique. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be an expert in photography?

 

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo

My love of photography all began on my first backpacking trip to Latin America. I set off for a 6-month backpacking trip around South and Central America and discovered my love for travel. I didn’t even own a camera at the time but when I got home from my life-changing trip I just knew that I could not spend the rest of my life working at my desk job.

Once I was home I purchased a drone just for fun and began exploring my epic backyard in beautiful British Columbia. I eventually bought my first camera, a Sony a6300, and began documenting my adventures. After MANY adventures and TONS of practice, one thing led to another, which brought me to where I am today.

Eventually, some of my closest friends and fellow creatives joined together and formed the creative collective known as All About Adventures. I now spend the majority of my time travelling near and far working with various clients and discovering new places with my best friends by my side.

At the core of it all, travelling, finding new experiences, going on good old fashioned adventures, and being able to do all of this with my closest friends are what drive me and inspire me to keep creating and pursuing this career and lifestyle.


2. When you started in photography, what camera/device did you use? Do you still use the same one?

 

Technically the first device I ever started creating videos and photos with would have been my iPhone and GoPro… But the device that really got me started in my career was my drone. I started off only taking drone videos and photos with my DJI Phantom Pro 3. The first camera I ever bought was my Sony a6300. I upgraded from the Sony a6300 to the Sony a7R ii when I got my first major job with some clients in Alaska and have been using that ever since.

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


3. What are your basic lenses and why do you use them?

 

The two lenses that I use the most are my 16-35mm F2.8 and my 24-70 mm F4. If I had to choose just one, it would be the 16-35 mm F2.8. I prefer to have a subject in my images with a vast landscape and I can really make these images come to life with my 16-35mm.


4. Do you ever use specialty lenses?

 

Yes! I also use a telephoto 70-200 mm and 24mm F1.4 prime from time to time.

I use the telephoto lens when shooting wildlife or when I want to shoot a subject off in the distance with some compressed mountains in the background.

I use the 24mm F1.4 in low light situations and when I am shooting more lifestyle, portraits or products in scenes.


5. What’s the leading factor in choosing which lens you will shoot with on a given day?

 

It definitely depends on the landscape I am shooting and how I want to bring that to life. Each lens I own has a different way of creating the type of scene that I want to portray in my images and different landscapes have a huge factor in that.

For example, if I am shooting a camping scene with a tent in the mountains I will typically use a wide angle lens to capture everything.

It also depends if the shoot I am going on is just for fun or if it is a client shoot where I am shooting products. In that case, I would typically use a lens where I can have a wider focal range and be able to zoom closer in the feature the product.

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


6. Do you think there are any particular photography items that new photographers could do without? What are 1-3 things photographers do not need?

 

I think it all depends on what type of images these photographers are trying to capture. I don’t really think there is anything that a new photographer technically does not need… But a suggestion I can make is starting out with one lens, preferably a 16-35mm or 24-70mm, and mastering that lens before going out and buying a bunch of fancy zoom lenses or primes. If you are shooting on a crop sensor you can just look for the equivalent mm for the size of the sensor your camera has.

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


7. Do you have any particular products, tech, or tools you’re passionate about or find particularly useful in your photography? What are 3 things you can’t – or won’t – go on a shoot without?

 

On every shoot, I bring my 16-35mm 2.8, my drone which is a DJI Mavic Pro 2, and if I am hiking I always have my peak design clip attached to the front strap of my bag so I don’t have to go in and out of my backpack every time I want to take a photo.


8. If present you could go back to past you and offer one piece of advice, what would that advice be?

 

If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the past me who was just starting out in photography it would be to be more present.

At the start of my career, I was so caught up in trying to take the best images when exploring a new location that I would forget to take time to enjoy the place I was there to explore in the first place. Now I make sure I get the images I want but also make sure I take the time for myself to explore the beautiful places that I am adventuring to.

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


9. Which photography trends are you seeing that you’re excited about or are interested in exploring?

 

In the outdoor, adventure, travel and even just the Instagram community, there are soooooo many trends that are happening so fast. Like having hipster blankets and hats in your images, or another one that is just popping up right now is that everyone is trying to take images of motorcycles and going out and buying new bikes. Hahahaha… I am not the biggest fan of these materialistic trends and definitely don’t think you should go out and buy a motorcycle just to take some images of it. If it’s something you are truly passionate about though, go for it!

One trend I am really liking lately is that people are starting to get an urge to explore and capture new locations around the world that I have never seen.

There is a lot of very similar content out there, especially on Instagram, and it gets very repetitive. It’s awesome to see people breaking the norm and visiting places that I’ve never seen and really getting back to the roots of adventure photography. Which is basically like I said before, good old fashioned adventuring and discovering new places!

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


Brayden is a Canadian adventure, lifestyle, travel photographer, videographer and social media influencer with an insatiable hunger to explore. From the epic peaks of Patagonia to the lush tropical beaches of Indonesia, you can find him searching for the next adventure.

In 2014 he set out on his first backpacking trip throughout Latin America. It was there where he realized his passions for travel and creating content of the beautiful locations he discovers. Since then he has co-founded All About Adventures and worked with high-profile clients such as Google, Air New Zealand, TenTree, GMC, Marmot, Ultimate Ears, Destination British Columbia, Visit Finland and many more all around the world.

Over the course of his career, he has accumulated a massive social media following of over 230K+ fans. At the core of it all, Brayden loves to travel near and far exploring the places our beautiful planet has to offer and have a GREAT time doing it.

You can contact him via his website. Learn about his story here, or follow him on Instagram.

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo

For additional tips on how to photograph like a pro or select the right lens for you, drop by your local London Drugs and talk to any of our in-store photography experts.

9 Tips for Taking Better Photos on Vacation

Got a summer vacation planned? Don’t forget to pack your camera! Your travels will no doubt provide all kinds of unique photo opportunities you won’t find at home. It’s easy enough to point and shoot, but if you really want to take your vacation photos to the next level, we recommend you follow these travel photography tips from our LDExperts in the Photolab.

Choose your Camera Wisely

While they certainly take great photos, carrying around a large DSLR camera on vacation can be bulky and cumbersome. In some cases, it can also make you a target for pickpockets. Or if you’re into candid street photography, a large camera can make it difficult to capture your subjects in their natural state without them spotting you. For any or all of these reasons, you may want to consider taking a mirrorless camera on your travels instead. Mirrorless cameras are far smaller in size than their DSLR counterparts, meaning they are more portable, lighter and less obvious when carrying them on vacation – yet they will still help you take high-quality shots.

If you find those still too large, you can always opt for a compact point-and-shoot camera, or even just use your phone! If you decide on using the latter, you’ll also be able to order prints of your photos on-the-go using our London Drugs Photolab App (for iOS and Android): a nice added bonus!

Carry a Tripod & Timer

If you do want to take some posed pictures on your vacation, our LDExperts recommend taking along a small tripod and self-timer. This way, everyone on your trip can be in the photo! This works great for groups or if you’re travelling alone. Selfie sticks are a favourite amongst lots of travellers, but they often can’t capture as much of the scene, as you’re limited by the length of your arms and the length of the stick. With a small tripod like these flexible ones from Joby, you can wrap the tripod’s legs around something nearby like a fence post or street sign to stabilize your camera. Then just use your camera’s self timer or a remote to activate the shutter!

Create your Vacation Story

Rather than capturing a random smattering of photos while on your vacation, try to tell the story of your trip with photos. For instance, start with capturing your journey to your destination (did you take a plane? Train? Automobile?). It could be as simple as a shot of the plane’s wing from your window seat, or a photo with your suitcase, ready to catch the train. Once you’re at your vacation destination, make sure to capture photos of each of the places you visit, and the people you meet, to help tell your story. After your trip, you’ll be able to piece together your vacation story in the form of a high-quality photo book.

Notate Your Favourite Places

Sometimes it can be hard to recall the names of streets, towns, shops and restaurants you encountered on vacation once you return home. To avoid that, make a point of taking photos of street signs and storefronts so that you can easily recall the names. These can also be important parts of your photographic storytelling! In fact, if you’re planning on creating a photo book with your vacation photos, you’ll be able to notate those details using our customizable photo book templates.

Compose Your Shots

While the advent of digital photography has been a blessing in many ways, it can also be to our detriment. Unlike film photography, which forces us to be more intentional with our shots, with digital photography, there is sometimes less time spent on composing one good photo – after all, you can take 100 more in the blink of an eye! Try to slow down and think about your shot. See if there is anything interesting to use as a focal point: a bright pop of colour, an interesting person, or a unique object. It will help elevate your shot from an average photo to something of beauty.

Once you get home, you’ll be able to showcase those well-composed shots with some beautiful fine art prints – choose from bamboo, canvas, metallic paper, glossy or pearl.

Think Big…and Small

While wide, establishing shots of your surroundings are important to help tell the story of your vacation, it’s also worth thinking about capturing the smaller details too. It could be anything from small souvenirs in a market, to sizzling skewers at a street food stall.

Get Photos of your Food

While we’re not encouraging you to spend so long taking photos of your food that it gets cold, taking snapshots of your culinary adventures while vacationing can make for some great photos. Not only will they make your mouth water long after you’ve arrived back home, but you’ll also have a visual diary of all the incredible dishes you tried on your trip. In fact, if you capture enough foodie shots, you could create a whole foodie photo book by the end of your trip!

Opt for Candids

There is a place for posed photos in your vacation album, but if we’re being honest, it’s the candid shots that are usually our favourites. It’s those shots that truly showcase the fun, experiential moments you’ve had on vacation. If you’re travelling with friends, family or a significant other, try capturing them in the element. It could be something as simple as a photo of them enjoying some R&R at the beach, or it could be a more complex action shot of them parasailing. Best case scenario, you’re travelling with people who are willing to snap some candids of you too!

Try a Different Perspective

We’ve all seen the same photo of the world’s most iconic buildings and landscapes over and over again. Why not capture them from a different perspective – like this photo of the Eiffel Tower in Paris? It shows a unique aspect of the building’s intricate structure, and creates a far more intriguing shot than the standard landscape photo of the well-known tower. Imagine how incredible a shot like this would look like as an enlargement!

Stroll around the area and pinpoint some unique spots to shoot from before deciding on what perspective you want to capture – it could be right below your subject, or far, far above it. Even a reflection in a puddle could offer a unique perspective.

 

Follow these pro tips while on vacation, and you’ll definitely be proud of your photos when you return home! If you need a little help with how to best showcase your vacation photos, come visit our LDExperts in the Photolab. Or if you already know exactly how you want to showcase your vacation photos, you can submit your order online, or using our London Drugs Photolab App for iOS and Android.

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