10 Photography Essentials: What You Need in Your Camera Bag

‘Tis the season to get outside and start taking fantastic photographs!

Whether you’re shooting landscapes, weddings, portraits, or just exploring the city through your lens, making sure your camera bag is “camera ready” is vital to snapping the shots you want. Nothing is worse than missing that perfect picture because you were under-prepared.

Curious what you need in your camera bag? Here are 10 photography essentials to guarantee a successful shoot.

10 Photography Essentials: What You Need in Your Camera Bag


1. Camera

 

This seems like a no-brainer, but ensuring your camera is photo-ready is one of the most easily overlooked tasks when prepping your camera bag. Before you launch into photography season it’s a good idea to give this core tool the once-over.

You can do this by checking the sensor for dust (many cameras have an auto-clean mode), charging the batteries to full, wiping down lenses with lens-safe wipes, and clearing any old images you no longer need from the memory.

Of course, if you’re new to photography and don’t have a camera yet, a basic digital camera will get you started.

While you’re at it, why not keep a backup camera handy? Grab your GoPro or even your smartphone and make sure the battery is charged. That way you’ll have a backup should anything go wrong with your primary device.

Pro-tip: If you’re taking pictures with your smartphone, easily send them for print directly from your phone using the Photolab app!


2. Lenses

 

  • Standard lens – 50mm / f1.8: This is basically the workhorse lens of many a photographer, and will have you shooting stunning images in no time. It creates clear, crisp images and is fantastic for indoor or lower-light photography. Ultimately it produces great images that appear more natural.
  • Telephoto lens: Think of this lens as a portrait lens. This will give you a lot of distance and a very shallow depth of field, bringing incredible focus to your subject. It’s great for weddings, wildlife, or sporting events.
  • Macro lens: Want massive up-close-and-personal detail on flowers, insects, plants, or other subjects? This is the lens for you.

3. Extra Battery

10 Photography Essentials: What You Need in Your Camera Bag

Aside from the necessary task of taking photos, a lot of things can drain your camera battery.

For example, if you use the LCD screen a lot to preview your shots, press the shutter button incessantly, turn the camera on and off quite often, or use functions like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or GPS, your camera battery may fall dead more quickly. Shooting video can also drain your battery. It’s not that you shouldn’t use these functions — they’re great tools within your photography arsenal! Unfortunately, they are also a drain on your power source.

Keep an extra charged battery on hand and ensure you don’t end up powerless when the right shot presents itself.


4. Polarizing Filters

 

If you find some of your photos look bland in post, polarizing filters are fantastic, especially for landscape and portrait photographers. When shooting outside, sunlight can be scattered, causing your final images to not look as vibrant as they did when you took them. These special filters help amplify colours and saturate light, while cutting glare and reflections in water and glass, even in hazy conditions.

They take up almost no room at all and easily attach to the lens of your camera. Investing in a couple can really take your photography to the next level!


5. Microfiber Cleaning Cloth and Digi Blower

 

A microfiber cloth and digi blower are two of the most understated — and useful — items in your camera bag!

Breathing on lenses can damage them with bacteria and moisture, while wiping them with any old towel can cause scratches that ruin photos. Using the proper camera cleaning supplies will ensure your camera works at optimal levels for as long as possible.

A microfiber cloth keeps on-the-go maintenance scratch-free and easy-breezy, while a digi blower is specifically designed to safely and effectively remove dust and dirt from sensitive digital cameras for safe cleaning of CCD sensors, memory card slots, and lenses.

Plus, if it’s large enough, you can use a microfiber cloth as padding to wrap around other accessories to keep them safe and undamaged during transport.


6. Spare SD memory cards

 

There’s nothing worse than catching the perfect shot and your camera tells you your memory card is full. Especially if the moment is fleeting.

Sure, you can go into Preview mode and scroll through the blurry or bad images to delete them, but that’s time consuming and draining on your battery. Instead, keep a spare SD memory card or two in your bag. They weigh nothing and take up practically no space at all.


7. Shot List

10 Photography Essentials: What You Need in Your Camera Bag

If you aspire to be a professional photographer, getting into good habits from the onset is a must. One of these good habits is developing a shot list.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store with a list of 10 items in your head, only to walk out with seven because you couldn’t remember the other three? The same thing happens in photography, only it’s worse because you can always go back to the store for the other things when you get home and realize what you missed. You may not be able to catch that same sunrise, gather the wedding party, or remake that perfect soufflé… and the opportunity to snap it will be gone.

Make a list of your must-have shots, and keep it close by. Use it like a checklist. This will help you tell the story you want to tell. Sure it takes a bit of planning, but future you will thank you for it.


8. A Way to Take Notes

 

Simply put: keeping field notes helps you take better shots.

Having your smartphone handy with your favourite note taking app or a classic notebook and a few pens in your camera bag allows you to quickly jot down something that worked well, as well as things that didn’t. Perhaps you want to remember a particular camera setting or a specific time the light was just right. Don’t just trust your memory — a lot can happen during a shoot, causing you to forget by the time you get around to uploading and editing your images.

Even the best photographers have a chance to learn from their mistakes and keeping detailed notes about how a shoot went — whether you’re a professional or hobbyist — can help make your photography better.


9. Sense of Adventure

10 Photography Essentials: What You Need in Your Camera Bag

Photography gives us the chance to see the world through a different lens — a different perspective. It gives us the chance to explore our cities, share our travels, and indulge our senses. It also allows us to connect with other humans — whether we’re taking pictures of them, or enjoying the shots of others. And that’s exciting!

So get out there and take some pictures. It’s a big wide world… so don’t forget your sense of adventure!


10. BONUS Essential: A Tripod!

 

While a tripod won’t typically fit in your camera bag, it is something that can be useful during certain shoots. It’s true most new cameras come with built-in stabilizers, but for added value, here are our favourite two reasons to carry a tripod for those special occasions.

1. Stabilizing the shot. This is particularly important in low-light settings or when shooting subjects with loads of detail. When you’re shooting in low light, any vibration or movement from the camera can disrupt the light coming into the lens, causing your image to become blurry. A tripod stabilizes the camera and allows the light to enter the lens from the same angle and rate, enhancing your shot quality.

2. Consistency in shot. If you’re shooting a series of images that require the same frame (i.e. portrait photography for multiple subjects, food photography for a restaurant, the evolution of a flight of birds, etc…), a tripod ensures the angle never changes; it’s fixed, whereas if you’re holding the camera, slight variations in height can be magnified in the final product.


 

If you need help or gear for your camera bag this season, we can help! Whether it’s a shiny new lens, advice about the best way to light your shoot, or a few a whole new camera kit, we got you. Stop by your local London Drugs and talk to our LDPhoto experts — we’d love to see you!

 

5 Photography Tips for Stunning Landscapes

As winter turns to spring, outdoor landscapes begin to bloom and blossom with stunning photo ops. If you’ve got your photography equipment ready to go, here are some helpful tips to ensure you capture your next outdoor masterpiece.

1. Near and Far, It’s All Relative

When photographing stunning natural landmarks such as mountains, try to capture not only the hero of the image but also its immediate surroundings. That way you can give the viewer a greater sense of scale.

As you’re framing your shot, have a look around you to see if there’s something closer than your hero subject that will help you tell a better story in your shot as a whole. A wide angle lens like Olympus’ 9-18mm ultra wide angle lens will increase the space differential, helping you to better tell that story.

Photo tips for landscapes

In this shot, while it would have been easy to photograph just the water and lighthouse, taking a step back and including the rock formation in the foreground gives the shot a better sense of space.

Tips for Landscape Photography

If you’re having trouble finding foreground subjects, consider using people. The human element can drastically change the feel of the image too, because then the person becomes the image’s hero!

2. Shoot at the Best Times of the Day

Did you know there are better times of the day to photograph landscapes (apart from when there is good light and the sky is clear and blue). There are four specific times of the day that pros love to shoot — provided the weather is ideal. These are called the golden hour and the blue hour, and both of these phenomena happen twice a day — in the early morning and in the late afternoon.

Landscape Photography Tips

Golden hour occurs just after sunrise and before sunset — when the light is softer and bathes everything in a soft yellow glow that is very pleasant to photograph. Most things (including people) look better when photographed in this light.

Landscape Photography Tips

The blue hour occurs after the sun has dropped below the horizon and bathes everything in a soft blue light. This light creates a nice contrast to the warmth of golden light, and can make your image feel colder. The blue hour is a particularly good time for shooting urban landscapes and cityscapes, as it make landscapes look very dramatic and colour-rich.

3. Add Drama to Your Shot by Slowing Down Your Shutter Speed and Getting the Most Out of Your Filters

Because there is generally plenty of light during the day, using slow shutter speeds can be challenging. This is where your Neutral Density (ND) Filter will come in handy. Slowing down your shutter speed allows your camera to capture the flow and movement of things rather than the sharp features people would be most used to seeing. For example, waterfalls and streams can look stunning when slower shutter speeds are used. Just remember to pack your tripod!

A polarizing filter will allow you to remove the reflections off reflective surfaces such as water or glass. This is particularly useful when you’re trying to make your images look cleaner. Additionally, you can also stack filters so that you combine the effect of an ND and a polarizing filter!

Landscape Photography Tips

In this shot of a waterfall, notice how it is difficult to see the detail in the waterfall. Because of the way it was shot, it looks like the water is flowing rather than stationary. This is because this shot was taken at a slower shutter speed. In this shot, the camera was set to a shutter speed of two seconds. This allows the camera to adequately blur the waterfall.

Landscape Photography Tips

By slowing down your shutter speed, notice that rather than seeing the waves of the sea crashing on the beach, you instead see a serene flow? This was a 30-second exposure. Just remember that you will need a tripod to achieve this result as you will not be steady enough to handhold the camera.

Landscape Photography Tips

Landscape Photography Tips

This is the same shot, however a neutral density (ND) filter was used to allow for slower shutter speeds. This shot was taken at 30 seconds and allows for the water to be less distracting ensuring that the viewer concentrates on the heroes of this shot – the bridge and the mountains!

Landscape Photography Tips

A polarizer will remove reflection from the surface of the water so that you can see the detail underneath. Notice how you can see detail of the rocks underneath the water?

4. Get Lower to Accentuate Your Perspective and Subjects

Sometimes when you take a landscape shot, it just lacks that extra pop? It could be that you are simply not getting down low enough. Vistas that stretch for miles on end can be exaggerated by the simple act of photographing from a lower perspective.

Mirrorless cameras with articulating screens, such as the one found in the Olympus E-M5 Mark II, will allow you to get lower without placing undue stress on your back or knees.

Landscape Photography Tips

See in this image how the camera was positioned close to the surface of the sand so that you see the footsteps leading toward the shipwreck? Shooting lower allows you to accentuate your perspective as well as provide the viewer with something interesting to follow in the shot – in this case, the footsteps.

5. Converging Lines Will Always Help Frame Your Shot

Ever noticed when you look at some pictures how your eye is lead to look toward a certain direction? This is often because of a phenomenon called converging lines. Due to perspective, if edges run parallel into the distance, those edges will seem to appear to get closer and closer as the distance increases. A great example of that is when you look at train tracks into the distance. Identifying converging lines in your shot is an essential skill for landscape photography that will take your game to the next level!

Landscape Photography Tips

In this photo, the lines made by the buildings guide your eyes toward the right side of the image. This is a great way to use landscape features to lead the viewer’s gaze.

London Drugs carries a wide range of equipment for all your photography needs. Come talk to one of our experts in store, or check out our camera equipment online.

Creating a customized Photolab calendar

Customized calendars are one of the most popular items the Photolab has to offer. And why not? Their merits—specifically their customizability and their immense sentimental value, especially as gifts but even for oneself—have been covered frequently in past Photoblog posts like these.
However, since the last post about them the Photolab has rolled out its magical new website and in-store kiosks, making their creation easier and even more customizable than ever before. And if you doubt this claim for even a moment, I invite you to read at your leisure the demonstration that follows—

How to create a customized photo calendar
using the Photolab in-store kiosk:

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Begin by selecting Creative Orders, and then Agree to the Terms & Conditions on the next screen.

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Then choose where you want to get your photos from. This time, I chose to log in and access the ones I’ve uploaded to my Photolab account.

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Next I select Calendars from the Products page.

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On the Calendar page you can choose your calendar type, your binding…you can even choose a single page or a desktop. I’ve selected the traditional style of calendar, because I happen to be a traditional guy.

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In fact, I went even more traditional and selected the standard 8.5×11” calendar. As you can see, I’ve got nine styles available in this size to choose from.

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From the menu on the left I can also choose to start my calendar in October, November or December, or I can just choose the full 2017 calendar year.

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You can place your photos manually one-by-one, or you can select the autofill option. Usually when I post a demo like this, I choose the manual option so I can take you through it; but since I’ve gone that route so often, this time I’m going with autofill—you know, just to balance things out a bit.

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When you select autofill, it pre-loads photos from your album into the calendar template, and then you can proceed to edit them.

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From the top left of the screen you can choose your layout; you can also select whether you want to edit the calendar in page view, spread view or as a grid of thumbnails.

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Not only can you edit or add text to your photos, but you can also add and edit text in each of the individual date boxes on each page, for every month. Now you can give Grandma’s birthday the same official recognition as a national holiday!

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Once you’re finished with all your tweaks and edits, you can save the project to your account or add it to your shopping cart. As you can see, volume discounts are clearly pointed out. Then choose your shipping or in-store pickup preferences, and you’re done!

But the helpful advice doesn’t end there, dear readers! One thing the Photoblog hasn’t addressed much is the fact that however you want to make your Photolab calendar, great photos will make it that much better—except what do you do if you happen to have a dearth of quality photos? The solution is in this month’s companion post, which contains a helpful way to keep some handy DIY photography tips right close by whenever those perfect photo-ops present themselves.