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

Road trip to Spring! By Liam Doran – SIGMA Ambassador 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Reasons to Bring a Rugged Portable Drive

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

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

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

 

A Freelancer’s Best Friend

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

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

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

Video-Ready

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

Tips for Vacation Photos

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

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

Photo Month 2022 Contest Terms and Conditions

May is Photo Month 

May is photo month! Every week all through the month of May, we will be hosting content that covers a different theme relating to various types of photography. With content from industry leaders, professionals, and photo enthusiasts, make sure you don’t miss any by checking weekly!
May 1-7 : Look out for videos on how to capture memories of your pets, family as well as creating personalized photo gifts in time for Mother’s Day. Featuring expert advice from Instax, Tamron, Sony and Canon.
May 8-14th: Let us inspire you to capture your outdoor adventures. With videos created by experts from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Vorext and Cybersport Photo
May 15-21: Improve your vlogging, streaming and content creation with tips from Sony, Fujifilm, Canon and Cyber Sport.
May 22-30: Perfect your photography with expert advice from Fujifilm, Canon, Sigma and Manfrotto.

Photo Month Contest

Each week we will be hosting a photo contest on Instagram that aligns with our weekly theme.
To enter :

  • Follow @LDPhotolab and @LondonDrugs on Instagram
  • Share an Instagram post on your feed of the weekly theme using that week’s hashtag. Entries are taken for the week’s theme only and are due by 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) May 30, 2022.
  • Please ensure your profile privacy settings allow your entry to be visible.

Weekly Themes:

Week 1: May 1, 2022 to Saturday, May 7, 2022

Pet Photography (use hashtag #LDFurryFriends to submit your best pet photo.)

Week 1 Prize Package:

Lacie 1TB Rugged $119.99
Aura Carver Luxe $229.99
Lexar 256GB Micro SD 1000x $89.99
Lexar 1TB SD 633x $399.99

 

Week 2: May 8, 2022 to Saturday, May 14, 2022

Landscape Photography (use hashtag #LDViewpoints to submit your best Landscape photo.)

Week 2 Prize Package

Ricoh Theta SC2 White $369.99
Lacie 1TB Rugged $119.99
Logitech Stream Cam $199.99
Litra Glow light $79.99
Lexar 256GB Micro SD 1000x $89.99

 

Week 3: May 15, 2022 to Saturday, May 21, 2022

Street Photography (use hashtag #LDStreetPhotography to submit your best Street photo.)

Week 3 Prize Package
Nikon Z5 W/24-50 F/4-6.3 Kit $2199.99
Lacie 1TB Rugged $119.99
Lexar 1TB SD 633x $399.99

 

Week 4: May 22, 2022 to Monday May 30, 2022

Portrait Photography (use hashtag #LDPortraits to submit your best portrait photo.)

Week 4 Prize Package
Sony A7M4 Body Only $3199.97
Blue Mic Yeti X $229.99
Lexar 256GB Micro SD 1000x $89.99
Lexar 1TB SD 633x $399.99

Full terms and conditions:

This Contest is hosted by London Drugs Limited (“London Drugs”). Contest runs from May 1 – 30, 2022. The contest will be held on Instagram and will consist of photo entries made using the pre-determined hashtags slated for each week of the contest. Photos must be posted during the contest dates, and are limited to 1 (one) entry per hashtag. 4 winners will be selected over the course of the contest and those selected winners will receive a prize package.

  1. Eligibility: The Contest is open only to persons who are at the time of Contest entry: (1) a legal resident of one of the following Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba; (2) have attained at least the age of majority in their respective province of residence (nineteen (19) in British Columbia, and eighteen (18) in all other provinces), (3) No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) photo per Instagram handle per week up to a maximum of four (4) Entries. Limit of one (1) prize may be won per entrant and per household. Contest will commence on May 1 and all Entries must be received no later than 11:59 pm Pacific Time May 30, 2022. All submitting accounts must be public and not listed as “private”. Entries will be reviewed by a representative of London Drugs to ensure compliance with the Photo Content requirements below. Upon entry, entrants agree to have their photos “reposted” on London Drugs Instagram stories, with accreditation. This does not mean they have won the Contest. (unless otherwise participating without purchases); (4) have not won a London Drugs contest since May 30, 2021 (5) are not an employee of, or an immediate family member (e.g. spouse, parents, siblings and children) or household member of any employee of London Drugs, their respective advertising and promotional agencies or the independent judging organization. The Contest is subject to all applicable laws and regulations and is void where prohibited. Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to these Terms and Conditions which include the official rules of the Contest. Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein.
  2. To enter the Contest:

To enter on Instagram:

  • Follow @LDPhotolab and @LondonDrugs
  • Share an Instagram post on your feed of the weekly theme using that week’s hashtag. Entries are taken for the week’s theme only and are due by 11:59 pm (Pacific Time) May 30, 2022.

Weekly Themes:

o            Sunday, May 1, 2022 to Saturday, May 7, 2022: Pet Photography (use hashtag #LDFurryFriends to submit your best pet photo.)

o            Sunday, May 8, 2022 to Saturday, May 14, 2022: Landscape Photography (use hashtag #LDViewpoints to submit your best Landscape photo.)

o            Sunday, May 15, 2022 to Saturday, May 21, 2022: Street Photography (use hashtag #LDStreetPhotography to submit your best Street photo.)

o            Sunday, May 22, 2022 to Monday May 30, 2022: Portrait Photography (use hashtag #LDPortraits to submit your best portrait photo.)

Please ensure your profile privacy settings allow your entry to be visible.

Submissions will be taken from the pre-determined hashtags and all valid entries at the end of May will be entered into the Contest.

  1. Entries will be limited to a maximum of 1 (one) per hashtag to a maximum of 4 (four) throughout the contest. Photos must be posted during the contest time frame and old photos will be not be counted. Multiple submissions will not increase the odds of winning. London Drugs is not responsible for entries that become lost or misdirected. London Drugs reserves the right to disqualify any person who attempts to tamper with the Contest, to harass or interfere with any other entrant, or otherwise acts in an inappropriate, offensive, illegal or unsportsmanlike way, all as determined by London Drugs in its absolute discretion. Submissions shall be void if incomplete, not legible, or if they contain errors or do not comply strictly with all requirements in these rules. No mechanical reproductions or robotic online entries.  All entries become the property of London Drugs Limited and will not be returned.
  2. The chances of winning will depend on the number of eligible entries received during the period the Contest is open for. All entries of May 1, 2022 – May 30, 2022 will be entered into a draw administered by May 31, 2022 in Richmond, British Columbia.  To win, selected entrants must correctly answer a timed, skill-testing mathematical question and must sign London Drugs’ declaration and release confirming compliance with the contest rules and acceptance of the prize as awarded, releasing London Drugs, its agents, sponsors and the judges 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. Only one prize may be won per person and per household. In the event that any selected entrant incorrectly answers the skill-testing question or is otherwise unwilling or unable to comply in full with these rules, a new entry will be drawn.
  3. There will be a total of 4 (four) prizes awarded at the end of the contest; 1 for each week’s competition.

Week 1 Prize Package:

  • Lacie 1TB Rugged $119.99
  • Aura Carver Luxe $229.99
  • Lexar 256GB Micro SD 1000x $89.99
  • Lexar 1TB SD 633x $399.99

Week 2 Prize Package

  • Ricoh Theta SC2 White $369.99
  • Lacie 1TB Rugged $119.99
  • Logitech Stream Cam $199.99
  • Litra Glow light $79.99
  • Lexar 256GB Micro SD 1000x $89.99

Week 3 Prize Package

  • Nikon Z5 W/24-50 F/4-6.3 Kit $2199.99
  • Lacie 1TB Rugged $119.99
  • Lexar 1TB SD 633x $399.99

Week 4 Prize Package

  • Sony A7M4 Body Only $3199.97
  • Blue Mic Yeti X $229.99
  • Lexar 256GB Micro SD 1000x $89.99
  • Lexar 1TB SD 633x $399.99

Prize must be accepted as awarded, is non-transferable and no substitutions are permitted, except that London Drugs reserves rights to substitute a prize or prize component for one of equal or greater value. Actual value of each prize may fluctuate based on pricing of each prize component at time prize is redeemed. Prizes will be awarded at the closest London Drugs location to the Contest winner. Prizes must be picked up by Contest winner within seven (7) days.

  1.  Selected entrants will be contacted by phone or email. No correspondence will be entered into except with selected entrants. If the selected entrant is unreachable within five (5) days a new entrant will be chosen in the same manner until a winner is determined.
  2. 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. London Drugs, contest sponsors, their 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).
  3. This contest is governed by the laws of the Province of British Columbia and to the extent applicable the laws of Canada. It is subject to all applicable federal, provincial, and municipal laws and regulations.
  4. By entering this contest, 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, the independent judging organization, its advertising and promotional agency and their respective 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.
  5. This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform which may be used to communicate this Contest.  All such entities are completely released of all liability by each entrant in this Contest.  Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the Contest should be directed only to London Drugs
  6. London Drugs and its parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliates, and their employees, officers, directors and anyone involved in the production, development or implementation of this Contest or the provision of any prize are not liable or responsible for any failure of any website during this Contest, nor liable or responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of computer online systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment, software or any e-mail, online or internet entry lost due to technical problems or traffic congestion on the internet or at any website or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to an entrant’s or any other person’s computer or property related to or resulting from playing or downloading any material in the promotion.
  7. 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.

 

Entries will be disqualified if they include any of the following, as determined by London Drugs and/or the Contest judges in their sole discretion:

  • crude, vulgar or offensive images and/or symbols;
  • derogatory characterizations of any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious groups;
  • content that endorses, condones or discusses any illegal, inappropriate or risky activity, behaviour or conduct;
  • any identifiable third party product and/or trademark; or
  • any other content that is or could be considered inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive.

Entries will also be disqualified if it comes to the attention of London Drugs that Entry contains unauthorized personal information of individuals.

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.

Stay Inspired This Photo Month with our Photo Challenge!

Looking to take up photography as a hobby or hone your photography skills while you’re at home? Especially with May being Photo Month, we want to help keep you inspired to not only take more photos, but also take your photography to the next level!

During the month of May, we’ll be running a photo challenge on Instagram with weekly themes to encourage you to sharpen your skills, experiment with new photography techniques and explore the photo opportunities around you.

You can share a photo of the weekly theme on Instagram using that week’s hashtag for a chance to win 1 of 3 weekly prizes (a 10×10 coffeetable photo book!). After the 4 themes have wrapped up, our 12 weekly winners will be put to a popular vote on our Instagram Stories, with the grand prize winner receiving a $250 London Drugs gift card and a 12×18 canvas gallery wrap!

To enter for a chance to win:

  • Follow @LDPhotolab and @LondonDrugs
  • Share a photo of the weekly theme using that week’s hashtag. Entries are taken for the week’s theme only and are due by midnight (pacific time) at the end of each week.
  • The weekly themes are as follows:
    • May 1- 7: Within My 4 Walls #LDwithinmy4walls
    • May 8 – 14: Reflections #LDreflections
    • May 15 – 21: The Living World #LDthelivingworld
    • May 22 – 28: Perspective #LDperspective

Scroll to the end of this blog for full contest rules.

To help inspire your weekly entries, below are some photo tips based on each category, curated by our LDExperts.

Within My 4 Walls

This theme is meant to get you thinking about all the photo opportunities you might not have noticed in your current surroundings! This could mean anything from photographing your children, spouse or roommate, to taking still life photos of objects in your home.

If you haven’t experimented with macro photography before, this could be a chance to give it a try! Find some small unique items in your home, and photograph them close up to show their detail. If you have an interchangeable lens camera, a macro lens will come in handy for this, as it will allow you to get very close to your subjects. If you’re using a smartphone, a macro lens accessory will work too. A macro lens will give you a very shallow depth of field, meaning that you will be able to keep certain parts of your object in the frame in focus, while the rest will fall out of focus. Experiment with focusing on different parts of the object – either use your manual focus or switch to a single point auto-focus in your settings to help you achieve the best, sharpest results.

Reflections

From a puddle in your driveway, to a mirror or window in your home, there are all kinds of places you can look to try reflection photography. The key is to mix reality and reflection (as you’ll see in the image of the girl and her reflection above). Other than your subject and the reflection, try to keep your frame as free of distractions as possible.

Reflection photography is one of the times that following the common rule of thirds isn’t recommended. Instead, it makes sense to balance your composition along a central line – whether that is vertically, or horizontally. The symmetry of reflections makes this an ideal composition to use.

If you’re shooting reflections on water especially, a polarizing filter can be handy if the sun is causing a harsh glare on parts of the water. It will help control the surface shine. Don’t worry about the water having to be perfectly still, either. You will want to keep an eye out for relatively still water, but adding some ripples to the water (just giving it a tap with your finger or foot) can create a really unique and distorted reflection. If you want to achieve a smoother reflection, you can lengthen your shutter speed (see our tips below on long exposure photography).

The Living World

Nature, landscapes, pets…they’re all fair game here! If you usually take photos of people, why not try shooting landscapes for a change? If you have running water nearby like a stream, or you are near a body of water, you can also work on honing your long exposure photography skills. Long exposure is what will give the water that silky-smooth look. Having a tripod is a must for long exposures, as you need to avoid vibration of any kind. Using a remote shutter will also help reduce vibrations.

  1. Once you’ve set up your camera in position and locked in the focus, set your exposure (try between f/8 and f/11 for landscapes) in either Manual mode or Aperture Priority mode. Make sure to notate the shutter speed when you do a test shot.
  2. Then add a Neutral Density (ND) Filter. This filter will restrict the amount of light that passes through, which in turn will mean the camera will need let in more light to achieve the right exposure (resulting in a slower/longer exposure time).
  3. Switch your shooting mode to Bulb (find in your Manual or Shutter Priority mode), which will allow you to do an exposure of longer than 30 seconds, and control the length by holding down your shutter (or in this case remote shutter). You should see Bulb or B at the end of the list of shutter speeds when you scroll through.
  4. Calculate your exposure to compensate for the ND Filter. For example, if your original shutter speed was 1/30th of a second in the test shot, and your ND Filter was set to 11 stops, then you should compensate by adjusting your shutter speed to 1 minute. Don’t worry about calculating – there are plenty of ND Filter charts available online!
  5. Then to take your shot using your remote shutter and simply hold down for the length of time you calculated for your shutter speed.

Perspective

Changing your perspective when shooting can have an entirely different effect on the resulting photo! In the photo of the cat above, the low angle of the shot gives the cat a very dominant appearance.

Cameras with a swiveling/tilting LCD screen are helpful in these situations, as you can adjust the screen to make it easier to frame your low or high angle shots. You can find this feature on some DSLR, mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras – like the Canon EOS Rebel SL2, Fujifilm X-T30 or Sony Cyber-Shot HX99.

Using a wide angle lens can also really add to the dramatic effect of your low angle shots. Try a lens below 35mm. This will give your image a more surreal look, making your subject appear larger than life!

 

Feeling inspired? Here are the full contest rules for our Photo Month Challenge:

1) To enter on Instagram:

  • Follow @LDPhotolab and @LondonDrugs
  • Share a photo of the weekly theme using that week’s hashtag. Entries are taken for the week’s theme only and are due by midnight (pacific time) at the end of each week.
  • Weekly Themes:
    • Friday, May 1, 2020 to Thursday, May 7, 2020: Within My 4 Walls (use hashtag #LDwithinmy4walls)
    • Friday, May 8, 2020 to Thursday, May 14, 2020: Reflections (use hashtag #LDreflections)
    • Friday, May 15, 2020 to Thursday, May 21, 2020: The Living World (use hashtag #LDthelivingworld)
    • Friday, May 22, 2020 to Thursday, May 28, 2020: Perspective (use hashtag #LDperspective)

2) No purchase necessary. Limit one (1) entry per Instagram handle per week of the contest. Limit one (1) prize may be won per household. Weekly entries must be received no later than 11:59 pm Pacific Time on the end day of the weekly contest, as per the dates listed above. 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 May 8, 2019;(ii) have reached the age of majority in the province in which they reside as at May 1, 2020 (iii) are not employees of London Drugs, their respective advertising and promotional agencies, or any family member living with any such employee.

4) The weekly winners shall be chosen the day after each weekly contest ends (see dates below) in Vancouver, British Columbia, from all eligible entries received per contest. Winning entries will be chosen based on photographic skill, artistic sensibilities, emotion, impact and originality. The grand prize winner, selected from amongst the 12 weekly winners, shall be chosen based on a tournament- style popular vote on London Drugs’ Instagram stories. Any use of Instagram bots during voting is strictly prohibited and will result in disqualification of that entrant. To win, selected entrants must have correctly answered the skill-testing mathematical question included on London Drugs’ Statement of Declaration and Release form, sent to them by email and must sign the 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 1 (one) prize(s) awarded to 3 (three) winners per week of the contest: each receiving a 10×10 coffeetable photo book with photo cover valued at $49.99. At the end of the contest, there will be 1 (one) grand prize(s) awarded to 1 (one) of the weekly winners: receiving a $250 London Drugs gift card and a 12×18 Canvas Gallery Wrap valued at $79.99. The Canvas Gallery Wrap prize will be awarded in the form of a promo code, which will be valid until June 30, 2020. 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 at the closest London Drugs location to the winner.

  • Contest entry dates: May 1 – June 5, 2020
    • Friday, May 1, 2020 12:00AM PT to Thursday, May 7, 2020 11:59PM PT: Within My 4 Walls
    • Friday, May 8, 2020 12:00AM PT to Thursday, May 14, 2020 11:59PM PT: Reflections
    • Friday, May 15, 2020 12:00AM PT to Thursday, May 21, 2020 11:59PM PT: The Living World
    • Friday, May 22, 2020 12:00AM PT to Thursday, May 28, 2020 11:59PM PT: Perspective
    • Wednesday, June 3, 2020 12:00PM PT to Friday, June 5, 2020 11:59PM PT: Popular Vote for Grand Prize
  • Weekly prize draw dates:
    • 12:00PM PT May 8th, 2020
    • 12:00PM PT May 15, 2020
    • 12:00PM PT May 22, 2020
    • 12:00PM PT May 29,2020
  • Grand prize draw date: 12:00PM Pacific Time June 6, 2020

6) Selected entrants will be contacted by email, or 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, 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) London Drugs is not responsible for any failure of any website during this contest, nor is it responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of computer online systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment, software or any e-mail, online or internet entry lost due to technical problems or traffic congestion on the internet or at any website or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to an entrant’s or any other person’s computer or property related to or resulting from playing or downloading any material in the promotion.  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.

12) This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other social media platform which may be used to communicate this Contest.  All such entities are completely released of all liability by each entrant in this Contest.  Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the Contest should be directed only to London Drugs.

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.

London Drugs Photolab Prints Fine Art for the 3rd Annual Capture Photography Festival

For the 3rd consecutive year, London Drugs is proud to be a sponsor of the Capture Photography Festival, celebrating local and international lens-based artistic talent in Vancouver. The festival is devoted to exhibiting challenging and thought-provoking photography at over 50 esteemed galleries and public installations.

This year, the London Drugs Photolab printed the works of several high profile Capture exhibits, including LA-based photographer Aline Smithson’s exhibit Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography, and the News Photographers Association of Canada’s National Pictures of the Year awards exhibit.

Using the best in photofinishing equipment and innovative materials such as our Hahnemühle Fine Art Bamboo Paper, our passionate, experienced Photolab Technicians printed flawless fine art pieces hung in galleries across the city.

These fine art printing services aren’t just reserved for professionals, either. Amateurs, freelancers, and professionals alike can get museum-quality prints, using the London Drugs Photolab’s cutting-edge printing services.

Visit our Photolab in-store or online to find the right print for your photography project!

London Drugs Celebrates National #PhotoMonth

With the arrival of May flowers, photographers everywhere are dusting off their cameras to once again capture the beauty of spring during Canada’s National Photo Month. Originally created to raise awareness and an interest in photography, Photo Month is the perfect time to choose the right accessories for your camera and improve your photography skills. To celebrate, London Drugs is starting the month off right with store-wide events and weekly workshops.

photomonth(blog3)London Drugs locations throughout the month of May will host photography related workshops to help customers better acquaint themselves with their current camera’s capabilities and to learn ways to better manage their images. Our Photo Electronics department will walk you through the differences between choosing a DSLR camera versus a compact camera system and even what the best smartphone camera solution is for you. Learn how to file and manage your images with external hard drives and photo editing software from our Computers Department. The weekly workshops will help customers discover how London Drugs is a one-stop shop for all your photography needs.

ldfotocon(blog)

The first annual #LDFotoCon is happening at six London Drugs locations this May in British Columbia and Alberta. Customers in select cities have the opportunity to meet with expert photographers and representatives from top manufacturers like Nikon, Canon, Fuji  and more to learn the ins-and-outs of professional photography. For more information about a #LDFotoCon near you or to register visit londondrugs.ca/ldfotocon.

National #photomonth wouldn’t be complete without an amazing end product to hang on the wall andphotomonth(blog2) show off to friends. London Drugs Photolab has the ability to turn any photograph into a piece of art by creating ultimate enlargements, canvas gallery wraps, photo mugs, greeting cards and vibrant metal prints. With tripods, bags and lighting equipment in-house, customers will arrive at London Drugs as amateurs and leave as prosumers on everything photography. Check out the variety of items the London Drugs Photolab has to offer here.