6 apps and tips to virtually connect with your family – including for Christmas dinner

The holidays will definitely feel different this year by not being able to gather with friends and family. But that doesn’t mean that Christmas is cancelled! With the power of technology, you’ll still be able to hear your uncle’s dad jokes, or your cousin’s elaborate stories – it will feel as if they were seated right at the dinner table with you! We’ve compiled a list of video call apps and equipment to use, as well as some set up tips and tricks to help make this year’s virtual Christmas a memorable one.

Best Apps to use for Video Calling

With all the apps and services out there to choose from, it might be overwhelming to know which one to use. Below, we have broken down some great video calling apps, and what sets them apart to help you choose the right one for you.

Zoom
Zoom is an excellent choice if you have larger families, as you can call with up to 100 people using their free plan, although only for 40 minutes of video calling. It works on Windows and macOS (desktop), and Android and iOS (mobile). Click here for a Zoom how-to set up guide.

Facetime
Facetime is great for those Apple product lovers, as it works on all Apple devices such as iPads, iPhones and Mac computers and laptops. You can host a video call for up to 32 people. Click here for how to set up FaceTime.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp is a great choice for video calls when you have friends and family living across the globe. You can have up to 4 users, and the calls are on the phone’s data plan or via WiFi, so voice calls do not use up any of your phone minutes. It works on Windows and macOS (desktop), and Android and iOS (mobile). Click here on how to set up a WhatsApp group video call.

Skype
Skype is another great app to use, especially if you have family living in other countries. What makes it a little better than Whatsapp is that it lets you make free international calls online for up to 100 people for audio or video conferencing on any device (Hello, big virtual family gathering!) Works on Windows and macOS (desktop), and Android and iOS (mobile). Click here for how to set up a group chat in Skype.

Houseparty
If you love being the life of the party (or your friends and family do), you’ll love Houseparty. It’s a social networking app that allows up to 8 people to video chat at once in a “room,” plus you can also play games on it, such as Heads Up!, Trivia, Quick Draw and more! Works on Windows and macOS (desktop), and Android and iOS (mobile). Click here to learn more about Houseparty and how to set it up.

Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger lets you easily chat and video call with your friends and family. It’s great because most of your friends and family will probably already have it if they have a Facebook account, making it an excellent choice for those who aren’t as tech-savvy. Plus, video calls have a limit of 50 users. Works on Windows and macOS (desktop), and Android and iOS (mobile). Click here for how to set up Facebook Messenger group video chat.

Set Up Tips

Lighting
Of course, you’ll want to look your best when video calling with your friends and family, since someone might request a group screenshot to capture the moment. If you are using a laptop, set up a light source behind and above your screen. This way, your face will be nicely lit up and visible. Also, use lighting from multiple sources and angles, so that it is dispersed nice and evenly. This can help you avoid harsh shadows casting on your face or in the background.

Sound Check
Nothing is worse than not being able to hear your video caller, or them struggling to hear you. If you have a microphone plugged in, make sure your computer isn’t sticking to its default audio input device. Check by making sure your microphone settings on your computer are correct. You can check on a Mac computer by clicking the volume control in the menu bar and selecting “sound options.” In the “Input” tab, make sure that your external microphone is selected from the list. Once it is selected, ensure that the “Input level” bar is moving to show that the computer is picking up any sound. Lastly, check that the volume slider isn’t all the way down.

If you’re using a PC, right click the volume icon in the taskbar and select sounds. Choose the “Recording” tab and choose your external microphone from the list. If you are using you computer for the first time or it is fairly new, you can select “Set up microphone” to go through the Microphone Setup Wizard.

Go Hands-Free
If you don’t have a laptop and will be using your phone, instead of awkwardly propping it up on your table, use a mini or table top tripod. This way, you can eat or do other things while you chat with friends and family. As well, many tripods have convenient, bendable legs that you can securely place on any type of surface or wrap around anything, like a floor lamp post.

Tidy Up!
Lastly, if you’re planning a big family video call, make sure the space in the background is somewhat tidy. The last thing you want is a big pile of dirty laundry sitting in plain sight, or the dishes you forgot to put in the dishwasher the night before on the counter behind you. It’s not the end of the world, but it might save you some embarrassment!

Take it to the Big Screen

If you have your set up ready to go, take it one step further and run your video calls through your TV screen! It is a lot better than hunching over a laptop or trying to see everyone on a tiny mobile screen. If you have any Apple or iOS devices, use a Lightning-to-HDMI adapter. Just plug the adapter into an HDMI cable, hook the cable up to the TV, and switch to the appropriate input.

If your laptop has an HDMI port, you can also simply plug an HDMI cable from the laptop straight into your TV. For newer Macs and Windows PCs with USB-C ports, you can use a USB-C to HDMI cable. Once you have plugged it in, press Windows-P on a Windows laptop to switch between display modes. Choosing “Second-screen only” will disable your laptop’s screen while it’s connected to the TV.

BONUS TIP: If you own a camera, you can also check out our blog on Using Your Camera as a Webcam | How-To Guide for Better Video Calling at Home.

We hope you found this blog helpful on how to virtually connect with friends and family over the Christmas holidays. From choosing the right video call app or service, to setting up, and even using your TV for enhanced visual and sound, it will feel like your loved ones are right there with you!

Aura Digital Frame Terms and Conditions

Enter for your chance to win!

Do you want to win a beautiful Aura digital picture frame to showcase your best family photos this holiday season? If so, you are in luck as we have 2 to give away. Aura digital frames are beautifully designed WiFi photo frames that connect people around the world through a brilliant photo sharing experience. We have one Mason by Aura, which is a freestanding frame seemingly carved from stone, and a grand prize of a Sawyer by Aura, a contemporary take on the classic frame utilizing clean lines and faceted planes that strike a bold silhouette. Changing the orientation of these frames is as easy as turning it on its side; Aura’s smart technology rotates the photo for you. For full details read below:

Aura Frames Contest – Official Rules

1) To enter: Simply tell us who you would share a Digital Frame with this holiday season in the comments on this Facebook post before November 29, 2020 11:59pm PST.

Participating and entering in this promotion is considered a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant. It is also an acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.

[November 24, 2020 – November 29, 2020 11:59pm PST]

2) No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) entry per social network per contest. Limit one (1) prize may be won per household. Entries must be received no later than November 29, 2020 at 11:59pm PST. London Drugs is not responsible for entries that become lost or misdirected.

3) Contest is open to all residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba who, as of the date the prize draw is made: (i) have not won a London Drugs contest since [November 29, 2019 11:59pm PST]; (ii) have reached the age of majority in the province in which they reside as at [November 24, 2020 ](iii) are not employees of London Drugs, their respective advertising and promotional agencies, the independent judging organization (if any), or any family member living with any such employee.

4) The winners will be randomly chosen on the day the contest ends (see dates below) in Vancouver, British Columbia, from all eligible entries received per contest. To win, selected entrants must have correctly answered the skill-testing mathematical question on the online entry form and must sign London Drug’s declaration and release confirming compliance with the contest rules and acceptance of the prize(s) as awarded, releasing London Drugs from liability in association with the contest and prize and consenting to the use of their name, photograph, voice and statements for promotional and publicity purposes.

5) There will be 2 (two) prize(s) awarded to 2 (two) winners: each receiving one of the following: One Aura Mason Graphite (value:$259.99), or one (1) grand prize of a Aura Sawyer Shale Digital Frame (value: $399.99). Prize(s) must be accepted as awarded, are non-transferable and no substitutions are permitted. London Drugs reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value should any prize become unavailable for any reason. Prize will be awarded by Aura and delivered to winners home address.

Contests dates: November 24 – November 29, 2020 11:59pm PST
Draw Date: 12:00 PM Pacific Time [November 30, 2019]

6) Selected entrants will be contacted by social network they were drawn from. No correspondence will be entered into except with selected entrants. If the winner does not respond then she/he will be notified for the second time, 3 (three) days after the first notification. If the winner still does not respond within 3 days of the second notification, a new winner will be chosen in the same manner until a winner is successfully contacted.

7) The chances of winning a prize will depend on the number of eligible entries received. Decisions of the judges in respect of all aspects of this contest including, but not limited to, eligibility of entries and correctness of answers given to the skill-testing question, are final.

8) London Drugs, their respective advertising and promotional agencies, the independent judging organization, and their respective agents are not liable to an entrant in any manner relating to the contest or the awarding and use of the prize(s).

9) This contest is subject to all federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations. By entering the entrant consents to the collection of all personal information included on their entry and agrees to the use and disclosure of such information by and between London Drugs and their agents. The winner(s) also agrees to the collection, use and disclosure of their name, entry, photographs, voice and statements for London Drugs’ publicity purposes without further compensation. All personal information collected from entrants will be used only for the purposes of administering the contest and for marketing and promotional purposes as contemplated by these rules; under no circumstances will any personal information be sold or rented to third parties. All personal information collected by London Drugs will be kept in accordance with the privacy policy of London Drugs, which can be viewed at www.londondrugs.com, and in accordance with all applicable privacy laws.

10) The right is reserved by London Drugs to terminate this contest, in whole or in part, and/or modify, amend or suspend the contest, and/or these rules in any way, should any cause beyond the reasonable control of London Drugs or its agents affect the proper administration thereof.

11)

STATEMENT OF DECLARATION AND RELEASE

All selected entrants will be required to sign the Statement of Declaration and Release attached before they can be declared a winner and receive a contest prize.

Using Your Camera as a Webcam | How-To Guide for Better Video Calling at Home

Do you ever wonder why some webcams feel like you’re using MSN video in 2004? If you’re working or learning from home, your webcam plays an integral role in communicating with the world. If you have a newer model camera, and don’t want to invest in a webcam, Canon, Fujifilm, GoPro, Nikon, Olympus and Sony have all developed ways to allow you to use their cameras as webcams. Find your manufacturer below for instructions on how to turn your camera into a webcam. Be warned that some of these are in beta versions and can contain errors. Certain manufacturers also don’t warranty the use, so be sure to follow the instructions closely.

Canon

What you’ll need: A compatible camera, a USB cable, Canon Webcam Utility. Be sure that your EOS Utility application is not running as it will interfere with the Webcam Utility.  Make sure your camera is in movie mode (if equipped).
To install, download the software from Canon here.

Compatible cameras:

Fujifilm

What you’ll need: a compatible Fujifilm camera with the latest firmware, a USB cable, a compatible streaming application (Google Meet/Microsoft Teams/ Skype/Zoom).
To configure your camera, in the main set up menu, go to “connection Settings”> USB Mode and select Webcam. You can then use the exposure compensation button to adjust your exposure. Once in Webcam mode, it’s plug and play.
To install, download the software from Fujifilm here.

Compatible cameras:

GoPro

What you’ll need: GoPro HERO8 Black with the newest firmware, a USB-C cable, a mounting option, and  GoPro Webcam desktop utility. Currently they support Mac and PC versions, however the PC application is still in beta. Click here to download the GoPro webcam desktop utility app.

To use an older model requires the use of a HDMI-to-USB video converter, and a GoPro with an HDMI output. The HERO7 Black, Hero6 Black, HERO5 Black, or HERO4 Black, should all be compatible using this method.

Nikon

What you’ll need: A compatible Nikon camera, a computer with Windows, USB cable, Charged battery, video conference software, Nikon Web utility software.
They plan to expand to offer a Mac version in the near future. Click here to download. Once the software is installed, it’s a simple plug and play procedure.

Compatible cameras:

Olympus

What you’ll need: A compatible Olympus camera with a memory card, a USB cable, and OM-D Webcam Beta.
Olympus require you to follow detailed steps to ensure proper function. For full details and to download and install the software from Olympus, click here.

Compatible cameras:

Sony

What you’ll need: A compatible Sony Camera with the latest firmware, Sony’s Imaging Edge Webcam software specific to your model, a USB and a Mac or PC.
On models without ‘Control with Smartphone’ option, it’s a simple plug and play. For cameras with Smartphone control, you will need to go into your settings to configure them to work. You can download the Sony Imaging Edge Webcam software here.

Compatible cameras:

E-mount

A-mount

Digital Still Cameras

 

We hoped this help upgrade your at home webcam experience! Remember to also check out our vlogging lighting accessories and tripods online or in store to ensure you look your best on your next video call!

The Cutest First Day of School Photos

Whether your kids are learning from home or are back in the classroom this September, one thing is certain: the first day of school is even more of a significant moment in time than it usually is. In the midst of such extraordinary times, there’s even more reason to document the ways life has changed (or stayed the same) this year – from life at home to the first day of school. Many parents snap a first day of school photo each year to signify the start of a new chapter for their child, while documenting their growth since the previous school year. They grow up so fast, and photos help you document it!

Below, we’ve rounded up 10 of the cutest first day of school photos of little ones ready to hit the books. And keep on scrolling to learn how you can preserve your child’s first day of school milestone, with prints from our London Drugs Photolab (plus get a code for free shipping)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Photolab can help you mark this important annual milestone in you and your child’s life with keepsakes you’ll appreciate being able to look back on years from now. Choose from quality prints in different finishes such as glossy, pearl, bamboo, metallic and even canvas. Also, our print size options are nearly endless, starting at 4×4 and going all the way up to 44×96 for some prints. We can even turn those first day of school photos into fridge magnets!

You can conveniently pick up your order in-store, or if you’re not nearby a London Drugs location, we can ship it directly to you. Use our promo code SHIP2020 for free shipping on orders over $7.99! Valid September 17 – September 30, 2020.

6 Ways to Savour Your Summer Memories

As the days begin to shorten, we become more aware of the fact that summer is starting to wind down. But while summer will inevitably come to an end, you can still relive your summer memories all year round…with the help of your photos! If you’ve been taking snapshots of your best summer moments with your smartphone or camera, it’s a good idea to have a plan for those photos so they don’t end up simply collecting metaphorical dust on a hard drive or your phone. Instead, you can reinforce your summer memories by making those moments into something tangible – like a photo book, a puzzle, or even a blanket!

Here are 6 ways our Photolab can help you savour your summer memories:

1. Staycation Photo Book

This summer has been far different than most. People are spending time closer to home, exploring their own backyard and going hiking, doing local road trips, hitting the beach or just enjoying time at home. It’s been the summer of the staycation. A great way to preserve all of those staycation memories in one place is to create your own photo book.

Printed on high quality photo paper using exceptional inks, our Photolab Technicians review every image and correct as necessary so you know your photo book will be just right. If you have tons of photos to choose from, not to worry! You can add extra pages to any of our photo books to accommodate. While customizing your photo book, you’ll also be able to choose from some great summer-themed templates. Personalize even further with text to help tell the story of your summer adventures.

For ideas on how to capture your summer staycation memories, check out this blog here.

2. Instagram Books

Are all of your best summer photos on Instagram? You can easily share those #Summer2020 memories, straight from Instagram! When you order an Instagram Book through our Photolab, you’ll be able to upload photos directly from your Instagram account. The books are available in 4×4 and 6×6 to best display your square Insta pics. All of our Instagram Books are ready within just 24-72 hours.

3. Puzzles & Playing Cards

With more time being spent a home this year, we’re all looking for new activities to keep us entertained while indoors. You can personalize puzzles and playing cards with your favourite summer photos so can play games with family and roommates while also reliving your summer memories. If you’re looking for a challenge, some of our puzzles have 1000 pieces! They also make a nice gift to include in a care package that you can send to family and friends.

4. Blankets

Wrap yourself in your summer memories by personalizing a photo blanket! Cozy up this fall in a fleece or sherpa blanket with a favourite photo from your summer staycation printed on it – why not send one to the grandparents too? Or add a snapshot to one of our beach blankets and use it to soak in the last days of summer. If you can’t decide on just one photo, you can also choose our blanket collages, which allow you to personalize your blanket with multiple photos!

5. Photo Mugs & Bottles

Reminisce about your summer with every sip! You can personalize your own photo mug or water bottle with a little help from our Photolab. We even have stainless steel tumblers, beer steins, and latte and espresso mugs that you can add your own photo to. Why not customize a mug or bottle for each member in your household, so you’ll never argue over whose is whose again?

If you want one in a flash, our 11oz designer mugs are ready for pick-up in up to 24 hours!

6. Summer Holiday Postcards

You’ve made some great memories this summer, and our personalized postcards make it easy to share them with loved ones! Just pick a size and quantity (you can order individually or in 25-packs), upload a photo, and choose from a wide variety of fun templates. Type your message on the back or add a handwritten note once your postcards are printed; update your friends and family on how you’ve been spending your summer and let them know you’ve been thinking of them. It’s a nice way to keep in touch while also creating a great keepsake.

 

Find even more creative ways to savour your summer memories by checking out our Photolab online, or by downloading the London Drugs Photolab App (available for iOS and Android)!

NEOWISE Comet – Tools to See and Capture

The NEOWISE comet is viewable for the month of July across western Canada, and we are here with a few helpful tips to help you make the most of it! Although it will only come within about 103 million kilometers of earth, it will be visible to the naked eye in the north western night sky. To get a better view, a pair of binoculars will help get in closer. If you want to really see it up close and personal, consider using a telescope. We have a wide range of options a variety of price points available in-store and online.

If you’re looking to capture images of the Neowise comet in the night sky, for optimal results you will want to use a mirrorless or DSLR camera. Surprisingly, you can capture beautiful images even with a kit lens. If you attach a telephoto lens, you’ll be able to get even closer. Shooting in manual mode with a high ISO and slow shutter speed will ensure to let in as much light as possible and have the control to capture the image you want. Check out the examples below captured by LD Expert Tim Y earlier this month in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. We’ve included the camera settings, and focal length he used to show what can be captured with everything from a kit lens at 55mm to a 600mm telephoto. Hopefully this can help you to create your own striking images!

 

Taken in downtown Saskatoon. 55mm lens, 5 seconds, F4, 1600 ISO This is an approximation of how it would look to the naked eye.

10mm lens, 30 seconds, F8, 3200 ISO

55mm lens, 10 seconds, f2.8, 1600 ISO

135mm lens, 20 seconds, F2.8 800 ISO With camera mounted on a Skywatcher Star Adventurer tracking mount. (Special order item)

80mm lens, 15 seconds, f2.8, 1600 ISO

Whether you choose to view or capture, we have the tools and accessories to get the most out of the experience.
“Remember, there is a big, beautiful sky out there and there is always something interesting to capture with your camera. Take the time to head out where the world is dark, the sky is clear and the memories are just waiting to be made and captured.” Tim Y

See more of Tim’s amazing night sky photography on Instagram @livingskyguy

Tim Y, an LD Expert from Saskatoon. Tim has been a photographer for over 40 years, an #LDExpert for over 30 years, and an astrophotographer for five.

How to Capture Your Canadian Staycation Memories this Summer

Canadians will be sticking closer to home this summer, but there are still plenty of places to explore right in our own backyard! It’s time to play tourist in your own town, while local destinations are relatively tourist-free. Here are a few ways you can enjoy your staycation at home in Canada, while still capturing some great summer memories.

Road Tripping

Swap out a flight abroad for a road trip in your own province this summer. Canada has an abundance of natural beauty, so there is plenty to see right here at home! In BC, do a quick day trip up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler, or a longer drive up the Alaska Highway to Mile 0 in Dawson Creek. For Alberta residents, The Cowboy Trail or the Trans Canada from Lake Louise will make for good road trip memories. In Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills and Grasslands National Park are both worth a scenic drive. Meanwhile, recommended road trips in Manitoba include a drive to Steep Rock which has lots to see along Highway 6, and Yellowhead Highway to Minnedosa Valley.

If you’re planning to vlog the experience, having a Panasonic LUMIX G100 Vlogging Camera with Tripod Grip (available for pre-order right now) in tow will make capturing the journey a breeze. It has features for both beginners and experts, including 4K video, Frame Marker, V-LogL recording, audio tracking that auto-adjusts, and a lightweight design that supports one-handed recording. The Sony VZ-1 Camera for Content Creators and Vloggers, and the Nikon Z50 Creators Kit (now available for pre-order) are also great choices for the budding vlogger. You can check out our full selection of gear for vlogging and streaming here.

If you have a dashcam, you can also turn that video into a time-lapse video to add to your vlog!

When documenting your road trip in photos, don’t forget to snap photos of mile markers, small-town city signs, scenic views, a couple of good shots of the windy road (we love a photo with some leading lines), and any unique stops you make along the way. Oh, and a group shot of your road trip crew, of course!

Hiking or Camping

Explore Canada’s stunning outdoor destinations this summer with a hike or some camping (or both!). There are lots of great hikes you may have seen on Instagram but have yet to venture out to – like Joffre Lakes in BC, which has spectacular views and a campground at Upper Joffre Lakes. For some picture-perfect hikes in Alberta, check out these suggestions in the Rockies. Saskatchewan is home to Meadowlake Provincial Park which boasts the province’s longest developed hiking trail and has 12 campgrounds with over 800 campsites. In Manitoba, the Spirit Sands & Devil’s Punch Bowl hike at Spruce Woods Provincial Park is a must, plus the park also offers some great camping spots.

When hiking or camping, it’s a good idea to take a camera along that is rugged enough to withstand the elements, while also offering you great image quality to capture those spectacular views while out in nature. Especially if you’re planning to venture into the wilderness quite a bit this summer, it’s worth upgrading to a camera like the Nikon Coolpix W300, which is dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof and waterproof. It also offers stunning high-resolution photos, 4K Ultra HD videos, time-lapse videos, superlapse videos and even music montages! The onboard GPS, eCompass, Altimeter, Depth Gauge and more will also help you easily track and view your course, steps taken, altitude, depth, and even atmospheric and water pressure. It’s the perfect hiking and camping companion.

From camping candids to wildlife sightings and landscape views, having your rugged camera by your side will ensure you capture every moment of your time in the outdoors.

Adventuring

Looking for an adrenaline rush? There are plenty of great options locally – from surfing on the West Coast in Tofino, to mountain biking and ATVing in the Rocky Mountains and on the Prairies. You can capture the exhilarating ride hands-free with a GoPro strapped to you for a unique perspective.

If you’re mountain biking, try the GoPro Seat Rail Mount which captures the action from the back of your seat, or this Handle Bar Mount for a front view. For ATVing, fasten your GoPro with a Vented Helmet Strap if you have a vented helmet, or use one of the Helmet Front and Side Mounts to help capture all the action. Surfers can mount their GoPro right to their surfboard, with the GoPro Surfboard Mount Kit.

Of course, the camera itself is the most important part. We have a selection of GoPro cameras that are rugged and waterproof – exactly what you need while adventuring. With Voice Command, just say “GoPro, take a photo” or “GoPro, start recording” to capture those extreme action shots hands-free.

Pool, Lake or Beach-Going

Summer vacation wouldn’t be complete without a trip to your nearest pool, lake or beach! Take advantage of spots that are close to home this season – check out some of our favourite beaches across Western Canada here.

Of course, if you’re going to be by the water, a waterproof camera is a must to avoid any smartphone mishaps. The Panasonic DC-TS7 Waterproof Camera can go down to a depth of 31 metres, so you can not only get it wet, but you can dive right in and get some great shots underwater without an additional waterproof case needed! The viewfinder is also designed for intense sunlight, so no matter how bright it is at the beach, you’ll always be able to compose the perfect photo. You also may want to add a floating strap to your camera, so if you become separated, you’ll be able to spot it floating on the surface. If you’re looking for some tips for taking better photos at the beach this summer, check out our blog on capturing beautiful beach views.

We hope your summer is full of new and exciting experiences this year, even if your plans are a little closer to home than you may have originally envisioned. Between driving, camping, hiking, biking and beach-going, we’re sure your camera will be full of photos of your summer adventures in the great outdoors! To preserve those memories, compile your photos into a personalized photo book from our Photolab that you can look back on for years to come. They’re printed on high-quality photo paper with exceptional inks, and every image is reviewed and corrected as necessary by our professional Photolab technicians. You can even customize your photo book’s cover, with linen, leather, soft cover and photo cover options. Text can also be added to help document your road trip stops or notate where you caught that breathtaking sunset.

If you took some beautiful scenic shots while on your summer road trip or hike, then you may want to think even bigger! We can print your images as enlargements up to 44×96 in size. Or really take your wall décor to the next level by printing your image on an aluminum metal panel or a canvas gallery wrap.

Click here to get started with printing your summer memories!

« Previous Page Next Page »