#Real Experts: The Ultimate Lens Guide for Amateur Photographers

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

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

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


photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


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

 

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


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

 

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


4. Do you ever use specialty lenses?

 

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


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

 

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

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


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

 

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


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

 

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

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

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


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

 

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

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

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

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo


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

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

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

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

photo cred: @braybraywoowoo

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

5 Ways to Show Dad You Love Him This Father’s Day

Dads of all kinds have been there for us, from our first bike ride without training wheels to when they shed a tear at our high school graduation. After all the birthdays, soccer practices, and comforting hugs, we’re all grown up—but our dads get to still play a huge part in our lives, especially as we have kids of our own.

How to Show Dad You Love Him

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Transform Your Pics: 5 Apps That Make Photos Fantastical

Photoshop has long been the traditional choice for pro photo editors when it comes to making touch ups and subtle, realistic enhancements. But if you want your photos to look unique and fantastical, there are many other apps for that. Here are some of our favourites.

Photo Lab

Facial mashup with Photo Lab

Nothing’s more fun than making facial mashups on a rainy weekend when you’re stuck inside without much to do. Photo Lab lets you make the most beautiful — and silly — facial enhancements. Ever wonder what you’d look like with half a cat face? Now you can find out.

1967

Retro photos with 1967 app

If you’re of a certain age, and even if you’re not, you might appreciate that retro photo look. And it’s easy to get, without having to force the aging process on your prints. 1967 app offers an abundance of retro filters that add dust, grain, sun flares and fading to any photo, instantly aging it by 50 years.

PicsArt Photo Editor and Collage

Make cool art with Pics Art app

Oh the fun you can have with PicsArt, with its huge library of tools, filters, frames, backgrounds and borders. You can spend hours adding filters and stickers to your favourite photos, or cutting them up and making collages. PicsArt also offers brush mode to limit your edits to specific parts of the photo.

PIP Camera

Photo editing with PIP Camera

This freemium app lets you create magic effects, like duplicate images within a raindrop or a glass of water (though you have to upgrade to the paid version for $3.99 for those frames). It’s a fun way to up your photo game and create unusual and unexpected images.

Storyluxe

Photo Editing with StoryLuxe

This one’s a necessity if you’re posting to Instagram Stories. Storyluxe offers templates and filters that can help you build a unique visual story. Free templates include “film”, “love”, “neon”, and “edge” with funky embellishments. Advanced options are available for $3.99/month.

Want to print your fantastical photos? Visit your local LD Photolab.

What You Need to Do to Save Space on Your iPhone Right Now

We’ve all been there. You’re snapping pics of an important moment – your daughter’s wedding ceremony, your nephew’s bat mitzvah, your trip of a lifetime – when your phone suddenly stops. You’re out of storage space. As you frantically start scrolling through and deleting old photos and videos, you end up missing all the action right in front of you.

It’s an all-too-common scenario, but we have some tips on how to save space on your iPhone so that next time you can snap away to your heart’s content.

How to Save Space on Your iPhone Now

Get Familiar with Your Storage

If you go into your Settings folder, and then click on iPhone Storage, you’ll see a list of everything on your phone, in order of which apps take up the most space.

You might find your Music app is taking up a lot of storage space, or maybe it’s your Podcasts or Movie Streaming apps. Whatever it is, this is a good way for you to determine where you should start your clean-up process.

Are You Using all Those Apps?

Often we see a cool app and download it, only to ignore it for the next year. The first step when trying to streamline your iPhone is to check which apps you can delete or offload. Thankfully, the iPhone makes this very easy.

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on General
  • Select iPhone Storage
  • Now scroll through all your apps and delete the “never used” apps or delete the ones you haven’t used in a long time.
  • If you’re unsure about deleting an app that you haven’t used often, but may in the future, you can choose “offload app” which will save your data for when you reinstall the app.

Clear out Old Attachments

Anytime you send or receive attachments via iMessage, your phone keeps those in a folder, which can take up a lot of space. To review and delete old attachments, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings
  • Click on General
  • Select iPhone Storage
  • Click on Messages
  • Select Review Large Attachments
  • Here you will find large photos, files and videos you can individually delete to save storage space

Move Photos and Videos to the Cloud

Before you move your pics it’s a good idea to go through your photos folder first and delete any photos or videos you may not want. If it’s blurry or not an essential pic to keep (that yummy brunch you had two years ago possibly isn’t a keeper), then delete away.

  • Open Settings
  • Select Photos
  • Click on iCloud Photos and Upload to my Photo Stream to turn them on
  • Check Optimize iPhone Storage and make sure you uncheck Download and Keep Originals
  • Once you’ve backed your files up to the cloud, you can delete them from your iPhone.

If you’ve tried all the above steps and you’re still having storage issues on your iPhone, it might be time to talk to one of our in-store technology experts. Visit a London Drugs near you to get the latest scoop on all things iPhone.

Best Locations Across Canada for Spring Photography

Spring time is finally just around the corner, and with it comes spectacular views of blooming flowers and lush colorful landscapes – it’s truly a photographer’s paradise! To help you capture spring in all its glory, our LDExperts in the Photolab are here to share some of the most picturesque spots across Canada to snap colourful tulips, cherry blossoms, wildflowers and more! Depending on where you’re located, you’ll be able to find spring photo ops from February all the way through until June.

Need a few pointers before you start shooting? Don’t forget to check out our Spring Photography Tips blog here for expert advice on capturing the beauty of spring blooms. Once you’ve got some favourite floral shots, you’ll want to check out what print options our LDExperts recommend at the end of this post!

Abbotsford Tulip Festival (April)

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival takes place in beautiful Abbotsford BC, where the Warmerdam Family has been farming tulips for 4 generations. With thousands of tulips spread over a 10-acre area, the Tulip Festival is a great spot to go for a stroll to photograph the millions of stunning tulips – provided you don’t go before they really start to bloom. Early in the season, the tulips are in low bloom, with most of the flowers still in the green-bud stage. It’s best to be patient and go during high bloom later in the season, when the majority of tulips have bloomed and the fields are full of colour!

 

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival (April)

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival has something for everybody. From ‘The Big Picnic‘ where you can enjoy the blossoms at Queen Elizabeth Park to Sakura Days Japan Fair where you can explore Japanese cultural arts. With over 2,500 different locations to explore around the city and about 50 different types of cherry trees coming into bloom, Metro Vancouver offers plenty of beautiful photography opportunities!

 

Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse / Butterfly Conservatory (Feb-April)

Just a short walk south from Niagara Falls and Table Rock Centre, the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse has a wide collection of orchids, succulents, and other tropical plants on display throughout the year, along with floral shows that reflect the changing seasons. It’s a great spot to capture all kinds of nature photography under one roof this spring!

The Art of Nature Series that is currently underway until Apr 28, 2019 features specialty programming throughout Niagara Parks. It also features a travelling exhibit at the Butterfly Conservatory displaying winning photographs from the Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year contest. A great place to check out the work of some inspiring Canadian photographers.

 

Canadian Tulip Festival (May)

With over 1,000,000 tulips in bloom, 1000+ artists performing and 100+ activities and attractions, the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa is a photographer’s delight! From tulip bouquet displays, to tulip bicycle tours, tulip art exhibitions, tulip markets and even workshops on the art of photographing flowers using creative composition, there’s something for everyone at the Canadian Tulip Festival.

 

Sakura Watch in High Park (May)

Sakura cherry blossoms turn High Park, Toronto into a beautiful pink visual treat! In 1959 the Japanese Ambassador gifted 2,000 Sakura trees to the city of Toronto and thus began the yearly tradition of viewing the cherry blossoms. While there is no fixed date for the blooms, it is usually estimated to arrive around mid-May. If you’re looking to skip the crowds while capturing the spring blooms, you can also visit the weeping cherry blossoms at Kariya Park in Mississauga.

 

Waterton Wildflower Festival (June)

Step into wildflower wonderland in the wildflower capital of Canada. Waterton Lakes National Park is home to more than 1,000 vascular plant species including half of all wildflower species found in Alberta. From beargrass to orchids, pink meadowsweet, and glacier lilies, you’ll get a crash course on the different species of wildflower. You can even view wildflowers from horseback and indulge in an afternoon tea with local experts. They also provide workshops on wildflower photography if you’re interested in honing your skills!

 

Once you’ve snapped the perfect shot, there are so many great ways to showcase it in print. Our London Drugs Photolab App offers the best convenience and is available for iOS and Android, or you can simply order online. While traditional glossy prints will bring out the vibrant colors of your photos, our pearl prints will give your photos a quality feel and smooth, professional look. Black border prints work great on close up photos of blooms, as they’ll really make the colour pop. If you’re looking to experiment with unique fine art printing options, there are bamboo, canvas and metallic paper prints to choose from. Aluminum metal panels work best with vibrant images, making them a great choice for displaying your most colourful spring photos. If you’re unsure about what prints would work best for your photograph, just visit your nearest London Drugs store and speak to one of our LDExperts!

7 Ice Cold Photos That Will Warm You Up

As cool temperatures set in across the country, Canadians are getting re-acquainted with that slick and slippery old friend: ice. Sure, ice can be treacherous for walking or driving, but it can also be stunningly beautiful. Here’s a collection of ice-inspired photos from around the country, and a reminder that we’re lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

1. The Obligatory Pond Hockey Photo

Skating Rink Skates

Photo by @lara.melnik

Strapping on the skates and spending the afternoon with friends on the pond is a quintessentially Canadian pastime.

2. The Ice is Coming for Us

This impressive shot of ice forming around a rock is a gentle reminder that the cold winter is well on its way (especially for our friends in Alberta).

3. Heli-Skiing Sights

Ode to Ice London Drugs Beautiful Canada

Photo by @cmh_heli

Adventurers who take skiing to extreme heights are bound to find something spectacular to look at on the way. The glacier in the background of this gorgeous photo is a reminder of our tiny place in this great wide world.

4. A Stunning Frozen Waterfall

Photo by @kwasy.morley

Alberta and British Columbia are filled with hidden gems like this frozen waterfall. Winter explorers are bound to find something interesting like this.

5. A Glacial Pace

Photo by @dcranephoto

This incredible photo of Bear Glacier in British Columbia is yet another example of the beauty hidden within our country’s borders.

6. Climbing Up Ice

Ode to Ice Beautiful Canada - London Drugs

Photo by @timbanfield

Only for the experienced climber, ice climbing is an extreme sport that is truly beautiful to photograph. Just imagine climbing up a frozen waterfall! There are many spots to get your ice fix in Alberta, like Kananaskis Country.

7. The Only Ice Hotel

Yes, you heard right! Check in to the only ice hotel in North America, Hôtel de Glace, based in Quebec. Discover ice-filled hotel rooms, ice sculptures, and even a wedding chapel.

8. Bubble Season

Abraham Lake Bubbles Beautiful Canada London Drugs

Photo by @ananya.ray

Find the frozen bubbles at Abraham Lake in Alberta that make for a beautiful photo, and an even better story. Do you know how these bubbles are formed?


How are you enjoying the icy Canadian winter??

Share your Beautiful Canada + ice inspiration and tag us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube !

Bringing in the Christmas Cheer with Your Best Friend: 5 Tips for Great Christmas Dog Photos

It’s that special time of the year again, a chance to get together with our friends and families and celebrate the festive season. But for pet owners, family does not just include those with two legs. Your four-legged bundles of joy are just as much a part of the family, and deserve a spot next to you in Christmas photos. Here are some quick tips to help ensure that your best friend looks just as good as everyone else in your pictures this year!

1. Winners are grinners – Get them active to get their best smiles!

Olympus E-M1 Mark II w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO

A dog’s smile is one of the happiest things in the world! Make sure you can get those smiles by taking your pup out for a quick run before you start taking pictures. Five to 10 minutes of play or a brisk walk should suffice, but don’t overdo it, otherwise as soon as you start taking photos, they will want to lie down and rest. (It still might look cute though!)

Olympus PEN-F w/ M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8

2. Get down to their level to get their best angle

Olympus E-M10 Mark III w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8

While it may be much simpler to take a photo of your puppy from eye height – this angle is not overly flattering for your pup. Getting down to their level will make them look less diminutive, and help to fill up your frame. The smaller the pup, the lower you are going to need to get. Mirrorless cameras from London Drugs such as the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III with tilting touchscreens, or cameras with articulating screens will help you get your camera lower while putting less strain on your back.

Olympus E-M10 Mark III w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8

3. Portrait lenses will make your pup look stunning

Olympus E-M10 Mark III w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8

By changing your lens, you can really make your pup pop in your images. Portrait lenses help to isolate your subject. This means that while your subject will be in focus, everything around them will be blurred and will not distract from the focus of the image – even if there are other things in the image such as people. Just remember to always try to focus on the eyes or the nose!

Olympus’ 45mm f1.8 portrait lens is a great value choice that combines razor sharp optics and pleasing blur to make your subject stand out in the image. For DSLRs, a portrait lens between 50mm to 85mm would also be ideal. London Drugs has a wide range of portrait lenses to ensure that all your family members look stunning this festive season!

Olympus E-M1 Mark III w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8

4. Shoot at the right time of the day for photographing people and pets

Olympus PEN-F w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO

Like everything in life, some moments are better than others for maximizing your photo opportunities. Same thing goes for taking photos of your pets! If the weather is fine, there are two times of the day ideal for taking great pet photos: two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset. At these times of the day, the light is more pleasant and there are less harsh shadows. The bonus is that the closer you are to sunrise and sunset, the more golden the light, which can give a feeling of warmth and happiness!

Olympus PEN-F w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 PRO

5. Keep their attention – Treats are the key!

Olympus PEN-F w/ M.Zuiko 25mm F1.8

We all love good food at this time of year; so does your pup, and they will be extra keen to let you know, so use that to your advantage! Hold a treat in your hand just above the lens when you are about to take a photo. This way, your dog is paying attention to the food and ensures that they are looking near the camera. Just don’t forget to pick up some treats in the pet food section next time you’re at London Drugs before Christmas.

Olympus E-M1 Mark iI w/ M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8

Whether you are thinking about buying a new camera, or a new lens, your London Drugs photo specialist will be able to show you exactly what you need for the best Christmas pictures of your pup. Also, don’t forget that you can print those photos and gift them! To get started on your own personalized gifts, just visit our London Drugs Photolab online, in-store or simply download our London Drugs Photolab App for iOS and Android.

Merry Christmas!

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