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.

The Secret to Upgrading Your Printed Photos: HD Pro Glossy Prints

If you’ve been using your time at home over the last few months to hone your photography skills, we applaud you! It’s been an opportunity for many to learn and practice new techniques and upgrade their camera equipment (for instance, to an interchangeable lens system) to really take their photography to the next level. The next step in that evolution is choosing how to showcase those new and improved photos in a way that will do them real justice! The secret? Upgrading to HD Pro Glossy Prints.

These brand-new prints have just recently been launched in our Photolab and will elevate your images with exceptional clarity and sharpness. We sat down with our Manager of Research and Development in the Photolab, Ryan Bennett, to get an insider look at the new prints, and learn why you’ll want to consider them for your latest images.

Q: What is the printing process for these HD Pro Glossy Prints, and what kind of technology is used?

A: What sets the HD Pro Glossy Prints apart is that they are printed at an impressive 1440 x 1440 dpi resolution. We use our professional high-grade dye ink printer system that accurately showcases fine details thanks to its multiple dot gradation technology. We also use professional inkjet paper that is exclusive to the London Drugs PhotoLab. This paper has excellent absorbing quality that enables the printer to produce outstanding print quality.

Q: What makes these prints unique?

A: You’ll find the prints are less grainy, have a smoother graduation of tones, and more detail in areas with fine lines such as eye lashes. Landscape shots have a much smoother tonal graduation in the sky. Black & white subject matter benefit greatly from the extra resolution. The HD Pro Glossy Prints are also available in unique sizing: 3.5×6, 4×7, 5×8, and 6×9. Those are slightly larger than our standard print sizes and are all optimised for the HDTV-type aspect ratio of mobile phones and cameras.

Q: Why are glossy prints so good at making bright colours ‘pop’?

A: Non-glossy surfaces like pearl tend to look slightly less contrasted and detail-oriented due to the nature of the paper surface being less smooth. Our brains perceive contrast as sharpness. The glossy nature of the paper enhances the contrast, which, along with the higher dpi, results in sharper prints.

Q: Any tips for getting the most out of your photos with HD Pro glossy prints?

A: Shoot at the highest possible resolution your camera can produce, which captures the most image information for the high dpi to work with. Black & white photos have great tonal depth. High contrast, vibrant photos, with lots of fine details really get the most out of this printing technology. Try subject matter with lots of colours, texture, and contrast which allows the brain to see the higher definition.

Q: How would you recommend displaying these HD Pro glossy prints?

A: These prints are best viewed in the open, not behind glass. Bright lighting brings out the best qualities. 

 

Curious what these new prints look like? Here’s a peek below. Notice the sharpness of the small details in the landscape photo, the vibrancy and contrast of the flower photo, and the smooth tonal graduation of the sky in the landscape and city photos. The HD Pro Glossy Prints bring even the minutest details to life, crystal clear and razor sharp. The glossiness provides an upscale finish to the images and brings out the contrasts and vibrancy of the colours, making them very eye-catching. As always, our experienced technicians inspect every image and correct as needed: lightening, darkening and even correcting for colour shift.

The next time you’re ordering prints, consider giving your photos an upgrade by trying our HD Pro Glossy Prints. You can easily order online, through our in-store kiosks, or on our London Drugs Photolab App (available for iOS and Android). Plus, show us what you think by tagging your photos on social media with the hashtag #LDPhotolab.

 

3 Ways to Celebrate with Dad on Father’s Day (In-Person or Virtually)

While many types of celebrations have had to change and adjust this year, there are still lots of ways you can celebrate with your dad on Father’s Day, no matter if you’re together or apart right now. Whether you can see your dad IRL (in real life) this Father’s Day or not, here are 3 ways you can celebrate together and show dad why he’s #1.

Serve Breakfast in Bed

The quintessential Father’s Day tradition, breakfast in bed, has become a classic way to celebrate for a reason – it helps him start his day off right, with a little indulgence and a lot of love.

In-person:

Go all-out on a breakfast that is just for dad. Pile it high with his favourites: waffles or pancakes, bacon or sausages, hash browns, eggs – the works! You can also surprise him with his favourite cuppa joe in his very own Father’s Day mug, personalized by you with the help of our Photolab. Add a personal message and some photos that you know will make him smile. Need it last minute? We can have your mug ready for pick up in-store in as little as 24 hours!

Virtually:

Not there to make dad breakfast in-person? No problem. Pick dad’s favourite local breakfast spot and order him a surprise breakfast, delivered right to his door! Plus, we can deliver our photo mugs anywhere in Canada, so you can customize a Father’s Day mug for dad online and then have it shipped to dad in time for Father’s Day. Then set up a Facetime or Zoom call together so you can catch up virtually while he enjoys his breakfast in bed.

Fire up the Grill

If your dad is a self-proclaimed grill master, why not center his Father’s Day celebration around the BBQ?

In-person:

On your run to the grocery store, pick up some barbeque must-haves like steaks, ribs or burgers that you can grill up on the BBQ together on Father’s Day. Make sure you have the necessary condiments too. As a special gift for dad, customize his own BBQ apron that he can proudly wear as you both grill up a perfect Father’s Day dinner.

Virtually:

See if there are any local restaurants offering meal kits that you can send directly to dad, complete with everything he needs for a great Father’s Day BBQ. Better yet, order one for yourself too, so you can grill together (while apart) and enjoy over Facetime or Zoom. Order his own customized BBQ apron with a photo of your choosing, and have it shipped to him in advance, so he can wear it the day-of.

Play Some Golf

Does dad’s idea of a perfect day involve golf? If so, why not make it an activity for the two of you to partake in on Father’s Day!

In-person:

Some golf courses are open and allowing people to play while physically distancing. If available in your area, book a tee time for you and dad to get out and play a round of golf in the fresh air – just make sure to book soon, as tee times are now more spread out. As the perfect accompanying gift, personalize dad a golf towel with a fun photo that he can use while on the course!

Virtually:

Play golf together…virtually! PlayStation 4 has an online multiplayer option for the Everybody’s Golf game, so you can both play together. Send dad a copy of the game, along with a golf towel from our Photolab that you personalized yourself.

 

Of course, a Father’s Day card is always a thoughtful addition to any Father’s Day gift. Customize your own card from the comfort of your home with the help of our Photolab! Pick a Father’s Day template, add some photos and a personalized message, and either pick up in-store or have it shipped (to yourself or directly to your dad). It’s a great way to show him you’re thinking of him, whether you’re together, or apart right now.

 

 

Life at Home: Documenting Life’s Experiences for Future Generations

Documenting your life experiences is important. It’s a way of preserving your personal memories to share with generations to come – to help them understand what life was like. Now more than ever, during this unusual period in history, it is incredibly valuable to document what you have seen, heard, felt, and done. After all, life right now is like nothing we have ever experienced before, and is perhaps nothing like what future generations will ever experience. This pandemic has affected daily life in so many different ways, and has affected us all differently.

To help you document your perspective during life at home, our LDExperts are sharing tips for what moments you may want to capture and notate, and how you can turn those moments into a photobook you can preserve for years to come.

Moments to Include in Your Photobook

Life has changed. Routines have been altered, workspaces look different, streets are quiet, jeans have been replaced with pyjamas …how has life changed for you? For those who have had extra time to spend at home, social media has been a place of inspiration for new hobbies – everything from bread baking to elaborate TikTok dances. All of these changes and experiences can be preserved forever with the click of a button. So get your camera or smartphone ready, and start snapping!

Here’s a list of moments you might consider capturing with your camera:

  • Baking bread
  • Learning TikTok dances
  • At-home date nights
  • Kids making puzzles
  • Kids playing in the backyard
  • Trying whipped (Dalgona) coffee
  • Painting hearts in the window
  • Virtual paint nights
  • At-home workouts
  • Banging pots & pans during the nightly cheer
  • Kids ‘attending’ their online classes
  • Zoom calls (taking a screenshot might be easier than trying to take a photo)
  • Photos of your homemade face mask
  • Photo challenges (like the pillowcase challenge)
  • Lines at the grocery store
  • Social distancing stickers and signs
  • Empty store shelves
  • Makeshift work-from-home set-up

 

Bonus photo idea: clone yourself!

You may have seen photos like this circulating around the internet. Camera-savvy kids and adults alike have been creating ‘quarantine life’ images of themselves spending time at home. A photo like this would make an excellent cover for the front of your photobook! Want to create one yourself?

You’ll need:

Make sure your room has good lighting. Put your camera or phone on a tripod and set a timer or use a remote shutter. Take one photo of the empty scene without you in it. Then one photo at a time, make a pose in one spot in the frame, take a photo, and then change to a different pose elsewhere within the frame and take another photo. Continue this process several times – all without ever changing the position of your camera/phone.

Once you have your photos done, fire up Photoshop on your computer and create a canvas that is in the same size of your images. Then import your images all into Photoshop. Make sure that the photo of the empty scene is the bottom layer. Go through each of your photos one at a time, and erase the background of each of your photos (leave you in the photo!). You can hide the other layers as you go to make it easier to see what you’re working with. Once you’re done, toggle back on all of the layers. If you notice some layers aren’t perfectly blending, just toggle back to that individual layer to blur and clean up the image up a little. It’s a relatively simple process, but can take some time to erase and blend to make your photo look as believable as possible!

Keep a Journal

One of the best ways to ensure you can remember important past events is to write them down in a journal. These are the things you would tell future generations about this time if you could. For your photobook, you can reference your journal for particular entries, or reference dates/times that you want to include along with your photos.

Here are some questions to help you get started with your journaling:

  • Have you learned any new hobbies? What did you learn?
  • How are you keeping in touch with friends and family?
  • What do you miss the most right now? People? Places foods?
  • Are you cooking interesting new dishes? Or ordering takeout from restaurants you hadn’t tried before?
  • Have you created your own home workstation? What does it look like?
  • How has your grocery shopping experience changed?
  • How has your daily routine changed?
  • Are you or your kids doing virtual classes? How has it changed the learning experience?
  • Have you experienced any heartwarming moments that have shown you the best of people during this difficult time?
  • What are the biggest things you have seen change in day-to-day life? (wearing masks, social distancing…)
  • What TV show are you binge-watching right now?
  • What has been the hardest thing to adjust to during this time?
  • Do you participate in the nightly cheer for frontline workers? How does your household or neighbourhood participate?

Creating Your Photobook

Once you have your photos and your journal notes altogether, you can start creating your photobook! Our Photolab has a variety of photobook styles to choose from, as well as a number of templated themes for the pages of your photobook. You’ll be able to add text excerpts from your journal entries to personalize your book, as mentioned above, as well as include many of those great photos you’ve taken to capture this historic moment in time. Choose how to organize your photos in the book, where to include the text, and even customize things like the cover of your photobook. Once you’re happy with your photobook, order a copy (or a few, so everyone in your family has one!) and we can have it ready for you in the Photolab for pick-up, or ship it right to your door.

Years from now, when someone asks what it was like back in 2020…you’ll be able to simply flip open your photobook and show them!

Elevate Your Photography – Food Photos at Home

While spending more time at home, have you found yourself enjoying the art of cooking or baking more? If so, you are not alone. A quick scroll through any social media feed and you’ll see everyone is cooking up a storm. If you want to capture your home creations in photos, we are here to help. We’re sharing 3 concepts to improve your food photography using your phone, a piece of paper and natural light, and it won’t interfere with enjoying dinner!

Follow along to learn how to elevate your food photography beyond the snapshot by considering content and framing, staging, and lighting. The examples below were all shot with an iPhone 11 and available light.

1. Content & Framing

What makes the images above different? The image on the left looks busy with all the counter items distracting focus from the food. To make your food photos shine, consider everything that is present in the frame. Ask yourself if something is required to tell the story, and if so, how does it interact with the rest of the items. A clean background will allow the food to stand out.

In the above right, you see the image is taken at a ¾ height with the salad as the prominent item, and the sandwich slightly out of focus in the background. You can also take an overhead shot looking straight down depending on how you feel the plate will come to life best. For an overhead shot, you will want to consider the surface it will be on, and any items that are visible. There are many other angles you can do, and if using an interchangeable lens system, a macro lens will allow you to get in to capture up-close details. For this blog, we will keep it to phone photography.

2. Staging

When plating your dish, carefully craft your plate. Examine the above two images. Notice the sandwich is cut differently, and in the left it is stacked and has some unnecessary items in the frame, whereas the right is side by side.

Consider how the elements of the dish appear together. On fancy cooking shows, or at high-end restaurants they always take great care in the presentation, and at home should be no different. A simple bowl of spaghetti can be twisted in a circular motion vs dumped on a plate. These small details will go a long way to help the visual presentation. Once you have your plate ready, make sure there are no unintended fingerprints, or drips on the rim of the plate, and then it’s time to set up your shot.

3. Lighting

Lighting is what will make or break the image. In all photography, the easiest way to improve is to learn how light behaves, how to manipulate it and control it. We will be using only available light for this tutorial.

Your camera has a built-in white balance. Mixing natural and artificial light will create colour casts of warm (yellow cast) and cool (blue/cyan cast). This is due to the different light temperatures of the light sources. It is better to use one or the other to avoid various colour casts in your final image.

In the two images above, the available light sources are from a window on the left side and an overhead light. In the left image, the overhead light is on and in the right image, it is lit only with the window. Notice how the colour is more balanced using a single light source? In the left, there is a yellow glow in the plate and a harsh shadow from the mug. The lighting in the left image is more balanced, but the shadows are still too dark.

To fill our shadows and help balance the light in the right image above, we will use a white piece of presentation board. Any white surface can work with varied results, from a sheet of printer paper to a white paper box. Get creative with what you have around the house. Place the white paper beside the object, on the opposite side from the window. This allows the light to reflect back on the subject, and fill in that shadow. Move the card around at different angles, and watch how the light changes on the plate.

Putting it all together

Next time you make something tasty in the kitchen, consider these 3 points and watch your food photography come to life! By taking a minute to consider your image content and framing, staging, and lighting, you can craft photos as beautiful as your kitchen delights are tasty. Below is a comparison of different outcomes with the lighting conditions described above.

1 – Background untidy, 2 – Naturally lit with overhead artificial light, 3 – Naturally lit, 4 – Add white card, 5 – Result with white card

Be sure to consider bringing your new home chef images to life. A homemade cookbook is great for future generations to preserve your unique and tasty recipes. Our Photolab makes book-making easy, and with your new food photography skills, your cookbook will be loved by all.

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