Tips for Taking Grad Photos at Home

Photo: Crown Photography & Film

Graduation may look a little different for students this year, but it’s still a major life milestone worth celebrating, and certainly those memories are still worth preserving! With grad parties and grad photos with friends no longer an option, our LDExperts, along with some local photographers, are sharing some tips for celebrating and capturing this special occasion with great photos.

1. No Date? No Problem!

Have mom, dad or a sibling dust off their best suit or dress and step in as your grad date. Get a photo of you exchanging makeshift corsages out of garden flowers, and having a first dance.

2. Choose the Time of Day Wisely

Photo: Crown Photography & Film

Tracey Crown, of Crown Photography & Film in Alberta recommends choosing the time of day to shoot carefully, as it will determine how good the lighting is for photos.

“Avoid shooting outdoors in the middle of the day when the sun is overhead; the light is harsh and can cause large shadows and squinting,” says Crown. “Choose instead to take outdoor photos in the early morning or later evening when the sun is either behind the grad or fully in front of the grad for more even flattering lighting.”

3. When Indoors, Use Window Light

Candace Fast, who runs her photography business Candace Fast Photography out of Chilliwack BC, knows shooting indoors can be tricky and recommends using available natural light if possible.

“If you are wanting to take pictures inside then head to a window that gives you nice natural light. Unless you can handle off-camera flash, then natural window light looks so much better than a flash that’s on top of your camera,” explains Fast. “Now once your grad is in front of that window, don’t stand in front of it and point the camera in the direction of outside. You want to use that light to shine on the grad, so the person with the camera should stand to one side of the window, and the grad on the other side.”

4. Add Depth and Texture to Your Background

Photo: Crown Photography & Film

“Whether it’s a garage, the front of your house or the trees in the yard, choose a background that has texture. If you can, have the grad step out and away from it to create more depth between them and the background,” says Crown.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Photo: Candace Fast Photography

Fast has shot grad photos in some unlikely places – like in front of the graffiti wall in the photo above, which adds some unique pops of colour to the shot.

“Have fun with it. If you are shooting digital, then play with different lighting and different backgrounds. That is the beauty of digital cameras. You can shoot and then if you don’t like the results then just keep trying.”

6. Capture Some Grad Dance Moves

Why not get the whole family involved? Have everyone in the house dress up in their best formal grad outfits (dust off those suits, tuxes, or old grad/wedding dresses!) for some fun photos together. Have a dance or two, and snap some candids.

7. Do Some Dress Twirls

Photo: Candace Fast Photography

If you have a space like a driveway or patio with some room, do some grad dress twirls! “Have some movement in your photograph. It brings it to life,” says Fast.

To capture crisp photos, either switch to your camera’s sport mode, or use the shutter speed priority mode and select a fast shutter speed. Try about 1/500th of a second, but you may need to go up to 1/1000th or 1/2000th if you are still seeing some blur.

8. Change Your Angle

Photo: Crown Photography & Film

“Have the grad sit or lay down if you don’t have a large space to shoot in,” suggests Crown. “You can create more variety in the images by changing height and angles.”

9. Employ a Tripod

To ensure the family gets to be in a few photos too, use a tripod and a remote shutter or your camera’s self-timer setting. This way you can set up your camera and hop in the photo!

10. Try a Portrait Lens

Photo: Candace Fast Photography

Just have a kit lens? It might be time to upgrade! A 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm lens, for instance, are all great lenses specifically for portraits like formal grad portraits. Each of those lenses come in f/1.8, f/1.4 and f/1.2, which will give that nice ‘blurry’ background (with that depth of field growing in intensity from f/1.8 to f1.2). The photo above was taken on a Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 lens, and is one of Fast’s favourite lenses for grad portraits.

Grad Invitations & Announcement Cards

Share your celebration with family and friends! Use your graduation photos to personalize your own cards. Our Photolab has a selection of graduation-themed templates to choose from – just add your own photos and text.

  1. Send invitations to your virtual graduation party.

Grad goes virtual this year! Create your own custom invitations and host an online graduation party for your classmates, using an online meeting platform like Zoom.

  1. Send out graduation announcement cards, a great keepsake for loved ones.
  2. Send congratulations cards out to fellow graduates to commend them on their achievement.

Graduation Keepsakes

Special memories like graduation should be preserved for years to come! From prints and collages to photo books and mugs, there are lots of ways to create lasting keepsakes with your graduation photos.

You can order them online through our Photolab, or through our London Drugs Photolab App available for iOS and Android. Then simply order and have your keepsakes delivered right to your home. Or send them straight to your family and friends!

How to Capture Vibrant Spring Flowers with Macro Photography

If the onslaught of seasonal allergies is any indication, spring is here, and that means flowers are starting to pop up all over our yards and neighbourhoods. This is good news for the photography enthusiast, as there will be lots of new chances to capture colourful, vibrant flowers as they bloom. You don’t have to leave the comfort of your home either – you can experiment with taking photos of flowers in vases or planters inside your home, or out in your front or back yard garden. To help you capture stunning floral images you’ll be proud to showcase, our LDExperts are sharing all kinds of tips below, from shooting tips to what kinds of macro lenses they recommend, and which print surfaces will make your colourful spring images pop.

Lenses for Macro Photography

Bursting with colour, flowers hold a great deal of beauty, and often look even more stunning when photographed extremely close up, showing off their vibrant colour and unique details. A good macro lens will allow you to focus while the lens is very close to the flower. For this reason, we recommend giving a macro lens a try. You’ll be able to get extremely close to the flowers, filling the frame with fresh blooms, and easily isolating the smallest of subjects.

The best option for macro photography is an interchangeable lens system – either a DSLR or mirrorless camera – which you can then add a macro lens to. Look for a macro lens with 1:1 magnification ratio or higher. A 50mm macro lens will focus closer than a 100mm macro lens, but will still provide the same magnification. Whatever system or brand you use there will be a macro lens for it. You can browse our full selection here.

Or as an affordable alternative, try a macro extension tube that fits between your camera body and the lens, which will essentially turn your standard lens into a macro. However, this does reduce the total light the lens can transmit, so you’ll need to use a wider aperture or slower shutter speed to compensate.

If your smartphone also acts as your primary camera, you could add a macro lens accessory to your smartphone (like the Pictar Smart Lens), which will help you achieve somewhat similar results with the convenience of your phone. The lens is simply clipped on top of your phone’s built-in camera lens.

Technical Tips for Better Macro Flower Photos

Aperture

First, let’s talk about aperture. You’ll be choosing your aperture based on whether you want to keep most of the image in focus, or would rather draw only a main point of interest into focus. For instance, you may choose to have the entire flower in focus, or just a few key petals that have some water droplets on them. To keep most of the image in focus, you’ll want to use a narrow aperture (a higher f/stop), versus if you only want part of your image in focus, try a wider aperture (a lower f/stop). Just switch to Aperture Priority Mode on your camera (Av on Canon, A on Nikon), choose your f/stop, and your camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed.

Focus

Because of the shallow depth of field you will be dealing with when shooting macro, your focus needs to be very precise. As a result, you may not want to rely on auto-focus. Consider switching to manual focus to ensure the sharpest possible image. You could also switch to a single point auto-focus in your settings, which will help you focus on a particular part of the flower.

ISO

To ensure the best quality image, make sure you are using the lowest ISO setting possible for your exposure. If you do need to use a higher ISO, to help avoid camera shake and ensure the image is sharp, consider using a tripod which help with eliminate camera shake.

Shooting Tips for Macro Flower Photography

Ready to start shooting spring blooms? Here are 9 photo tips to try:

  1. Avoid harsh lighting or shaded areas which can cause unflattering shadows by shooting on an overcast day.
  2. Use a good polarizer to make the blue skies deeper, but also saturate colour from the flower, and eliminate glare and shine on the flower’s surface.
  3. Find one flower that stands out from the rest, or an insect like a bee on a flower, and focus your shot on that subject.
  4. Hard to find a flower that stands out? Shoot from a lower angle, up at the flower, with the sky as your background.
  5. Use a tripod that allows you to get very low to the ground (it’s best if it has legs that release and can spread wide).
  6. Try different coloured backgrounds, such as a background of green grass, versus a sea of colourful flowers in the background.
  7. Experiment with the distance your flower is from the background, as this will change the depth of field (blurring the background to different degrees).
  8. Use a frontal fill flash, which will increase the sharpness of your image, and boost the look of saturated colours.
  9. Try shooting in the rain and mist, when water droplets are visible on flower petals. No moisture to work with? Carry water in a spray bottle, or add glycerin to the water so that the droplets stay better on the petals and leaves.

Prints That Will Highlight Your Flower Images

If you’re looking for a print to do your colourful floral photos justice, look no further than our Photolab’s aluminum metal panels. They have a high gloss finish that will make your photos look incredibly sharp and vibrant. Coated aluminum sheets are infused with dyes that will especially bring out the colour in your rich, detailed floral images. Perfect for making those bright flowers pop! Many photographers also choose this print surface because of its durability and resistance to fading.

Choose between aluminum panel montage walls, an aluminum panel with black frame, collages, or your standard full image aluminum panel. We can print these up to 40×60 in size! Turnaround time is quick – just 5 business days for smaller panels. Panels larger than 16×20 may take up to 14 business days. You can order through our website, or using our London Drugs Photolab App (available for iOS and Android). If you’d like a little guidance from our LDExperts, or want to see a sample, just visit us at your nearest London Drugs location!

Photography Tips & Gear for Capturing Better Easter Photos

With all kinds of fun props like colourful painted eggs and baskets at your disposal, Easter is a great opportunity to experiment with your camera and expand on your photography skills! Of course, it’s also a chance to capture some great shots of your family – especially the kids – in their element as they hunt for eggs and put their egg painting skills to the test. To help you to better preserve those memories and flex your photography muscles, our LDExperts have compiled their top creative and technical Easter photo tips for you to try.

Capturing the Action of the Easter Egg Hunt

The traditional Easter egg hunt is a chance to capture fun action photos of the kids. With all that motion though, you’ll want to make some adjustments to your camera settings to ensure your photos are as sharp as possible.

If you’re planning to use your smartphone for photos, check to see if you have any settings tailored to motion, such as a sports setting. This will help ensure each photo of the kids running around is blur-free.

You’ll have more control over your settings if you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Firstly, you can choose a lens that is best suited to the situation. A 50mm f/1.8 lens would be a good choice for getting great family photos when the kids won’t sit still or are running around. In general, a lens with a wide aperture is ideal.

Secondly, you can adjust a number of settings on your camera to make sure your images come out as crisp as possible. If you’re not as familiar with using manual mode, there are two other settings you can try:

  • Select Continuous Shooting Mode. This will allow you to take multiple photos in quick succession – so you don’t miss a moment!
  • Switch to Shutter Priority Mode (TV on Canon, S on Nikon), then increase the shutter speed to above 1/200. If your surroundings provide lots of light, try a shutter speed of around 1/1000. In this mode, your camera will automatically make the necessary adjustments to your aperture.

If you’re familiar with Manual Mode (M on Canon & Nikon), you’ll be able to adjust not only the shutter speed as described above, but also the aperture. If you’re finding it hard to keep your kids in focus, you could try using a less shallow depth of field (larger f/stop) instead to ensure the depth of field is broader and the kids stay in focus.

Capturing the Fun of Easter Egg Painting

Kids and paint: it’s a recipe for some fun candid photo ops. For the best candid shot, you may want to use a longer lens if you’re using an interchangeable lens camera – an 80mm or 100mm lens for instance. This way, you’ll be far enough away not to distract your subjects, while still getting the tight framing you want.

Once the eggs are painted, you can also get creative with some close-up shots to show the unique patterns and details. On a DSLR, switch to Aperture Priority Mode (Av on Canon, A on Nikon) and make sure to select a lower f/stop, creating a shallower depth of field. This will allow you to put the focus on a specific egg, with the rest falling out of focus. For extreme closeups, consider using a macro lens – whether it’s a lens for your camera, or an accessory attachment for your smartphone.

To capture the creativity happening at the table, why not also try an aerial shot? For a photo like this, either hop up on a chair, or if your camera has an adjustable LCD screen, hold your camera high above your head, and rotate the LDC so that it’s easier to see what you’re shooting from such a high angle.

Capturing the Cuteness of Easter-Themed Portraits

Once the Easter egg hunt and egg painting are said and done, you may want to use a few of the props, like the baskets and eggs, to do some Easter-themed portraits. Bunny ear accessories would be a fun addition too.

If you have an interchangeable lens camera, our LDExperts recommend using an 85mm prime lens, otherwise known as a portrait lens. You can choose between the f/1.8 or f/1.4, with the latter giving you a shallower depth of field (that nice blurry background we all love). Otherwise, if you’re using your smartphone, check to see if you have a Portrait Mode or Live Focus Mode available. This will simulate a similar bokeh effect as the portrait lens on a camera.

Printing Your Proudest Easter Photos

Be proud of the photos you’ve captured! Those photos hold memories that will be cherished for years to come. Our Photolab has a wide variety of print options to best showcase your images, from prints and enlargements to fine art papers and creative products. Just head over to our Photolab website to order, download our London Drugs Photolab App on the App Store or Google Play, or simply use our in-store kiosks. Not sure which print surface will best showcase your photos? Just ask one of our LDExperts in the Photolab!

Capture the Beauty of Fall with these Photography Tips

It’s hard to pick a favourite time of year for photography, but fall makes a pretty good case for the most photogenic season. Fall is the perfect time to explore your surroundings and experiment with your photography; the vibrant leaves and soft light create an opportunity for all kinds of beautiful landscape and portrait shots. To help spark your creativity, our LDExperts in the Photolab have some tips to share for capturing great photos of the fall foliage. Keep reading below to see them all!

Explore Your Location

When heading out shooting, take the time to explore your location and find the perfect subject. There might be a tree with glowing red leaves right around the corner from that one that only has half its leaves left. It also helps to do a little research when your planning your shoot – take a peek through local hashtags on Instagram to see where people have spotted some of the best and most colourful trees, or search out articles from the previous fall season which may indicate some good spots to check out.

Single vs Multiples

A single leaf vs. a pile of leaves. A single coloured tree alone in a field vs. a rolling hillside covered in vibrant leafy trees. Play with numbers and create drastically different images.

Use All Kinds of Subjects

Obviously, the fall season presents beautifully coloured trees. But fall produces much more photo opportunities than just the trees; fresh mushrooms in the forest, apple picking, pumpkin patches and corn mazes also make for great fall photos. A photo walk around your neighbourhood might unearth some seasonal photo inspiration. Or check out event listings in your area to see what other fall activities might present some fall-themed photo ops.

Shoot Rain or Shine

Don’t rule those rainy days out! Fall colours pop on overcast days. The moisture also lends itself nicely photography. Think of wet droplets on bright leaves. Imagine a bright red leaf floating in a puddle with a pretty reflection on the water surface. Overcast days might surprise you so don’t write them off. Instead, be excited about them! If it’s sunny, the early morning and late evening sun is ideal. It creates a warm glow and sidelight. If you’re shooting portraits, this may be the only light source you need!

Capture Fall in Action

If you’re shooting people, there is lots of action you can capture in the fall, from children playing in leaves, to a couple standing face to face with leaves falling around them (you’ll need someone out of frame to throw them in the air for that one!). The act of pumpkin picking or apple picking also lend well to action shots. For more subtle action, someone sipping steaming apple cider in a colourful park is simple but impactful.

Try New Vantage Points

Glowing leaves on a blue sky, shot from below can have beautiful colour contrast, but so can climbing a hill to get the overview of the valley covered in turning leaves. Play with your vantage point and consider what you want as an end result.

Tech Corner (Bonus Tips for the Advanced User)

Focus

Fall air can be crisp, and allows your eye and your camera to see further when compared to summer. If you’re shooting wide, stop your lens down to F16 and capture that depth of the image. Or, if you’re shooting people, open your lens up to F2.8 and have that pretty bokeh with coloured trees beautifully blurred in the background.

Equipment

Tripod and filters are key. Shooting with a tripod will allow you to shoot at slower exposures and lower ISO’s while shooting deep depth of field. Filters will allow you to add contrast and pull back the sky. If you’d like to learn more, pop by a London Drugs store and talk to an LDExpert today to find out how filters can help improve your fall photography.

Showcase Your Best Fall Shots

After all that attention and care you’ve taken to get the best possible fall photos, you’ll want to do them justice by showcasing them! To truly make the colour in those fall leaves pop, an aluminum metal panel is a great print surface for your images. The high-gloss finish will make them look sharp and vibrant. Our Photolab can even print them up to 40×60, for images that will give that ‘wow’ factor. Glossy prints and enlargements, as well as metallic prints, are also excellent choices for displaying your colourful fall photos.

Need some help picking the right print surface? Our LDExperts are always happy to help! Just visit us at your local London Drugs Photolab. If you already know exactly how you want to showcase your images, you can get started with your order online, or on your smartphone using our London Drugs Photolab App for iOS and Android.

 

 

6 Photography Tips for Capturing Great First Day of School Photos

Back to school can be many things: emotional, stressful, hectic, exciting or all of the above. Most importantly though, it should be memorable. Capturing the memories of your little ones heading off on their first day of kindergarten, or their first day of the new school year can be a fun annual tradition. We’ve put together some tips on how to capture the day, so your photos pop, and the memories live on.

1. Do Some Planning

Planning your back to school photos is the first step. It might seem like you can just capture what you see on the day, but a quick 5 minute plan will help ensure you capture everything you’re hoping to, and won’t look back on your photos wishing you had remembered a key shot. It can be as simple as a shot list of must-have photos, or as complex as getting props, coordinating colours and upgrading your camera equipment. If you’d like to go all in, you can even have a custom lunch box kit made by our London Drugs Photolab with a photo of the family pet, or a shot from your summer vacation and incorporate that into your first day of school shoot! The plan all comes down to what your goal is, and what time you have available.

2. Pick Your Background Wisely

Do you ever wonder why certain photos just pop so much more than others? A very simple way to improve the overall aesthetic of your back to school images is to be very conscientious of the background. There are a couple key components to this: distance, technical settings, and content.

Compare the two images above. Notice how in the doorway (image left), separation between the subject and the background is lost, whereas when shooting with more distance between the child and home (image right), it creates a nice clean separation.

Another element of backgrounds is clean walls. It could be a colourful wall, a fence, or even the side of the house. A clean clutter-free background will let your little one pop as the subject and remove all the visual distractions in the image.

Lastly if you want to put a little more planning in, or are dropping them off at school, think about incorporating the school into the background, or the bus rounding the corner. This idea would require a little more thought and timing, but can lead to pictures that have that added storytelling element.

3. Shoot at Their Eye Level

 

Get down on a knee so you’re aiming the camera straight at your child, instead of aiming the camera down on them. This will play into that background point above, and will make your horizon line seem more natural vs when shooting from your eye level. This is a technical point many photographers overlook, but will really help make the image pop. Compare the vantage point in the two images above, and how they impact the image. Notice how when shot at their eye level (image right), the image has more depth, and pulls the viewer in?

Now that we have our background all sorted, let’s dive into the most important part of the image: your child!

4. Have Fun with Props and Outfits

This is where you can let your creativity shine. What would you like to incorporate into the image? Your imagination is the only limit here. Some parents have an adult-size “Grad 20XX” t-shirt made. They photograph the child in it every year until they finally fit into it, creating a very fun growth visual year over year.

Others make chalk boards with stats like: age, grade, teacher, school. This can be done by writing directly on the board, or by adding it using an editing program afterwards.

Our Photolab also offers My First Day Of School photo templates, so you can easily pop in a photo of your child and add their info in, like age, current likes, favourite subject, what they want to be when they grow up, and the date. Simply visit your local London Drugs Photolab, fill out the order form with the info above, and submit it to our LDExperts with your chosen photo. We can print you as many 8×10’s as you like!

Another fun idea is to print out last year’s photo as an 8×10 print, and have your child hold it up.  As the years go on, the image slowly gains depth as each year, if you look closely, you can see the previous year’s photo continually disappearing like opposing mirrors.

5. Shoot More Not Less

It’s better to shoot a wide variety of images so you have lots to choose from, rather than not shooting enough and later wishing you had taken more. And if you happen to love all of your first day of school shots, you can print a back to school photo book showcasing a whole bunch of them! Another fun idea is to create custom photo gifts for family. And, if you pop into your local London Drugs Photolab, ask about the Take and Create options for custom children art items! You can have them draw their first day of school using our Take and Create booklets, and then our Photolab can print those drawings on a mug, magnets or even coasters for the grandparents!

6. Shoot with Shallow Depth of Field (Bonus Tip for Advanced Users)

If you’re using a smartphone camera, portrait mode replicates the shallow depth of field effect. If you’re using a mirrorless or DSLR and aren’t too familiar with the manual settings, use aperture priority mode.

In aperture priority, use the smallest F stop number available on your lens (usually somewhere between F1.8-F4). This will let the camera calculate everything else and you can focus on your shot. This is what creates that beautiful blurred background and even more levels of separation. The image above shows the aperture blades at different F stops. The more open, the shallower the depth of field is.

 

Hopefully these tips inspire you to have some fun with your camera this back to school season, and create memories you and your children can cherish forever. Remember to print your photos and remove them from the digital-only realm. Prints are great for framing, but you can also use these images in lots of other creative ways, like on a mug for grandma, or on next year’s family calendar (for the month of September, of course).  Or explore our LDPhotolab website for many more unique ways to share your child’s first day of school memories.

 

World Photo Day: Tips for Exploring the World with Your Camera

When it comes to photography, the world really is our oyster. There are seemingly endless opportunities to capture scenic landscapes, stunning landmarks, and people from every walk of life. In celebration of World Photo Day, our LDExperts Robin Hoffman and Shidan Bartlett, both avid photographers, are sharing tips for photographing their favourite spots around the world and right at home. Keep reading below to learn their tricks of the trade, and be inspired for your next photography excursion!

Hawaii, USA with LDExpert Robin

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Like most things, travel photography takes planning and forethought.  I think that I love the “planning” part of our vacation as much as the actual travel.  To get photos that aren’t just snapshots you need to plan ahead and have the right gear.  I generally start researching a year or more in advance by searching out locations before travelling. This is the key to knowing what you want to see and photograph before you even arrive. I like to Google search images of the locations I am visiting so I can see different vantage points and what each looks like at different times of the day.  A great example of this was during my husband and my recent trip to Hawaii. I had many spots I wanted to photograph but didn’t know where the spots were or how to get there.  My solution was to book a private tour guide that specialized in photography.  The guide in Maui was particularly helpful because instead of worrying about driving on the Road to Hana we sat back and were able to concentrate on the scenery and photography instead.  A local will always know spots off the beaten path and, when someone else is driving, it gives you the opportunity to relax and enjoy yourself.

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Our guide took us deep into the Bamboo Forrest to shoot the waterfall photo you see above, on a hiking trail that I know I would not have found myself or that I wouldn’t have attempted without a guide. The trail was made more challenging after a hurricane the previous week but our guide helped us get to our location unscathed for the most part.

Packing for the location you are going to is equally important.  It is easy to get caught up in an “I will take everything just-in-case” scenario.  Remember that you will need to haul your bag around sometimes on long hikes so be mindful of weight.  It is easy to lose the patience needed to time a great shot if you’re tired from lugging around unnecessary gear.  It is equally important that you remember to take all the things that you don’t typically travel with as well. This is where pre-planning helps.

Again I make a list of everything that I think I “might” need as I am looking for my locations.  Once I am done deciding on the scenic gems I want to shoot, I can add and subtract equipment from the list.  A great example is that I rarely travel with a tripod as they add weight to my already over-packed suitcase (I am in no means a light traveller) but, for our trip to Hawaii, I knew it was a must.  I would need it for the many waterfall and long exposure shots I was planning for on the islands. I also knew that with shooting in midday sun I would need a 10-stop neutral density filter.  A wired shutter release was also necessary, so I could get those beautiful silky waterfalls or the glass-like water at sunset. Both of these shots required anywhere from 3-second to 2-minute exposures that would not be possible without the right equipment.

The settings to get shots like these will depend on time of day and what kind of filters you are using.  The waterfall photo above was a 3-second exposure at f/16 and a 100 ISO using a circular polarizing filter instead of a neutral density filter. Meanwhile, the sunset photo was taken after hiking out onto very sharp lava rocks and shooting 30-second to 2-minute exposures as the sun set. The key to long exposure is to take lots of photos using different settings until you find something that works for you.

Veracruz, Mexico with LDExpert Shidan

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

While travelling sometimes I only have my iPhone with me for quick captures, as my gear is in the hotel safe if going out late at night. The capture in front of ‘El Gran Cafe de la Parroquia’ was from Veracruz, Mexico. This was taken in a moving car with my iPhone! The exposure was 1/15 of a second, with the help of the iPhone’s stabilized lens, it turned out nice. The iPhone’s wide 28mm equivalent lens lets you capture the whole cafe. This cafe has been one of the most well known and historic in all of Mexico, established in 1808! I decided to use the VSCO app (available for iOS and Android) to convert it into monochrome. It is a street capture, seeing the people inside and the tradition of coffee, I loved framing the iconic sign in the photo.

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

Once inside, I again used the iPhone to capture the very beautiful Italian machines that must be several decades old. Remember to capture the details when you visit places, it gives more context to where you are, and allows you to tell detailed stories of where you were.

White Rock, Canada with LDExpert Shidan

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

Here is a local photo taken at dawn from the beach in White Rock, BC, of the famous White Rock Pier.  This was taken using my sturdy Manfrotto aluminum tripod amongst the rocks. The exposure was 2 seconds, aperture of f16 and ISO400.  The 2-second shutter slows the movement of the family of geese in the water in the right of this photo with a beautiful graceful movement. If I would have shot with a longer exposure, I would need to use an ND8 or ND64 filter; the geese wouldn’t appear in my photograph then, but the water would be extra smooth on the shoreline and under the pier. I chose the family of geese, as I feel it added something special to this photo.

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

The photo above is of a ‘Golden Hour’ sunset at Crescent Beach in Surrey, BC. Notice the low angle and leading lines of the pier. This photo was taken with a very small Manfrotto Pixi tripod to keep the angle super low while under the pier. The tripod was a couple of inches in the water, and maybe 6 inches above, so I could capture my foreground subject, the large rock. Use your camera’s self-timer or remote app from your camera manufacturer to release your shutter and avoid any further camera shake. I took several exposures with my circular polarizer filter to ensure I got the exposure and contrast I was envisioning for this photo. To soften the water to that silky smooth look and accentuate that beautiful setting sun and sky my favourite exposure was this one at 14 seconds long, the aperture was f16 and ISO200. Some HDR processing was also applied in post using the Snapseed app (available for iOS and Android) to bring out more dynamic range details in both the rock and barnacles.

Paris, France with LDExpert Robin

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Paris was at the very top of my bucket list for a very long time.  I wanted nothing more than to shoot photos of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral.  Again, these two locations required a great deal of planning before travelling.  First was finding a location that would actually be a great vantage point to see the Eiffel Tower itself.  After a great deal of research, we found that climbing to the top of the Arc de Triumph would give us an incredible spot to emphasize how imposing the tower was and how it dominated the city skyline.  After climbing many stairs to the top, I realized I forgot my circular polarizer at the hotel but did my best to cut thru the haze using HDR settings in my camera.  In some ways, I actually enjoyed my time at the top of the Arc de Triumph more than at the top of the Eiffel Tower and took many shots from its vantage points.  I do HIGHLY recommend shooting from this location and not forgetting your circular polarizer.

Photo by Robin Hoffman

Next it was on to the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral.  I feel so blessed to have had time in this stunning structure before it was damaged by fire.  I loved walking around inside and out. Some of the vantage points in the back courtyard where hardly any people gathered provided much cleaner shots of the great cathedral. Again, this was a location that required graduated neutral density filters or a circular polarizer to photograph properly.  As it was cloudy/rainy the whole time we were in Paris, both of the photos above were shot with f/stops of f/16 and ISO 400-800. I also recommend trying to shoot early in the morning or later in the evening as the light is better and there are fewer tourists around. The polarizers gave more contrast, particularly to the sky but also to the highly detailed structures.  Again, take your time and experiment with the manual and built-in settings in your camera.

Here is a shortlist of some of the equipment I find most helpful when travelling:

Most of all, have fun and remember you are on vacation!

Banff, Canada with LDExpert Shidan

Photo by  Shidan Bartlett

Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate while you travel and then suddenly it does! This is the Bow River at Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. There was a quick break of rain this day, and instead of continuing to explore the many quaint shops in Banff, I grabbed my Nikon DSLR and went for a walk to the river before the rain came back! A foreground subject really helps with your framing and composition.  Whether it is a canoe, a flower or something else, it gives a nice depth, and adds to your photograph – in this case contrasting colour! The canoe, in the shot above, was great by itself, but hearing the train coming really forced me to be more patient with my shot, instead of walking away to take a photo somewhere else. I waited and waited. I loved the colours of the train’s cargo cars with the canoe in the foreground. To get that beautiful river reflection, it helps that this was taken during the break in the rain, and even though it was very cloudy, it still was a beautiful and inspiring photographic memory. For this shot, I used an exposure of 1/200 second at f7 and ISO 200.

I also wanted to share with you a cool behind-the-scenes photo of the London Drugs Photolab at work printing some of my prints of this shot as 24×36 enlargements, and the process of making some photo books of my photography. These were all actually ordered with our London Drugs Photolab App!

Photo by Shidan Bartlett

Proudly Displaying Your Photos of the World

We all see the world in a unique way – and we capture it in unique ways too! When you’re printing your photos, it’s important to choose a print surface that suits – or even enhances – your unique image. A vibrant shot like Robin’s waterfall photo in Hawaii would look even more stunning on an aluminum metal panel, which would bring out the bright lush green hues. Meanwhile, Shidan’s black and white photo of the Gran Cafe in Mexico would look phenomenal on a textured bamboo or canvas print. In honour of World Photo Day, why not pick your own favourite photo of the world to print today?

Taken photos on your travels using your smartphone? LDExpert Shidan knows the easiest way to showcase them:

As an LDExpert I love to recommend our London Drugs Photolab app (available on iOS and Android) to print all of life’s moments you cherish and even create your own stellar wall prints as well as fabulous photo books from not only your DSLR or Mirrorless cameras but also from our smartphones. Smartphones today take phenomenally better photos than they did in 2009. Sensor, lens technology, and the advent of computational photography, have seriously advanced the quality of everyone’s photography, but my iPhone won’t replace my Fujifilm mirrorless camera or my Nikon DSLR anytime soon! However, like Seattle-based photographer and social artist Chase Jarvis says, sometimes “the best camera is the one that’s with you”. I like to think of my iPhone as complementary to my cameras, and I must say, it is the must-have accessory to use, WITH your camera!

 

About LDExpert Robin Hoffman

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ Saint Augustine

Let me introduce myself, my name is Robin and I am a Photo/Electronics and Mobile Specialist for London Drugs in Kelowna, BC. My love of photography has been a part of me my whole life starting when I was little girl.  I would get film with my allowance so I could take photos with my Diana toy camera. My photography has come a long way since that toy camera and has evolved into shooting with a Sony A7R Mark III.  While I have worked part-time with London Drugs for the past 14 years, my passion lies with photography and travel. As wonderful of a company as London Drugs is to work for, if I am being honest, I work to be able to buy more camera gear and to take at least one bucket-list worthy trip per year.

Follower Robin on Twitter: @ScrapgoddessBC

 

 

About LDExpert Shidan Bartlett

Hello, my name is Shidan Bartlett, a Photo Electronics and Audio Video Department Manager in our Richmond No.3 Road location. I have been a Photography Expert with London Drugs for over 23 years! I am also a local photography instructor and workshop facilitator. Photography has been my passion since I was given my first camera, a Nikon Nikkormat, when I was 18 years old. All the camera gear out there today (and yesterday!) take fantastic photos! You need to be inspired to go out and be creative, take a moment to plan and make those great photos! Share your photos and print your photos. To quote Chase Jarvis, “the best camera is the one that’s with you”; don’t be afraid to not only shoot with your iPhone or smartphone, but to also use it as another tool, and accessory to compliment your camera equipment! Check www.londondrugs.com for London Drugs photographic learning events and photowalks in your area.

Follow Shidan on Instagram: @ShidanBartlett

Expert Tips for Bringing Your Camera on Your Next Camping Trip

A camping trip is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer – especially in the summertime! It’s all about turning off your phone, breathing in that fresh air, enjoy others’ company, and taking in the beauty of nature. For Canmore Alberta-based photographer Sarah Magyar, it’s also an opportunity to snap some truly great photos to remember the whole experience. If you’re keen to capture your next camping adventure, you’ll want to check out Sarah’s 7 tips below for bringing your camera along while camping.

Bringing my camera camping is something I always do. I don’t necessarily bring it for ‘professional’ photography reasons, but more so I can capture moments. My friends and I camp a lot, even if half of us have to work the next day, so bringing my camera means I get to capture and keep memories of smiling faces, people enjoying each other’s company and most importantly people shoving hotdogs and smores in their mouth!

Don’t forget your camera

So tip #1 for bringing your camera on your next camera trip is well, bring it! Capturing those authentic memories will mean more to you than the most perfect landscape image. Capture the moments that you want to hold on to forever: the ones you can look back on in years to come that will bring a smile to your face and remind you of the way things smelt, felt and looked.

Pack your lenses in the car

Tip #2! If you’re car camping, bring a few lenses, or all your gear! There are so many opportunities for photos while camping: portraits, landscapes, products, sports, the list goes on! So you’ll want to make sure you have all your lenses so you don’t miss an opportunity to get the perfect shot. Plus, you’re car camping so it’s not like you have to lug it around with you, just keep it safe and locked in your car!

Have extra batteries on-hand

Tip #3 don’t forget the extra batteries! We’ve all been there, you have the perfect shot lined up, you go to flip the switch to turn on your camera and it doesn’t turn on. I must say it is one of the worst feelings in the world! Making sure you double, even triple check will guarantee you won’t miss that awesome shot!

This is especially important to remember while backcountry camping as batteries can drain faster in the cold. Also, when you’re in the backcountry, there’s no outlets which means no charging your batteries if they die. I always make sure to bring at least two, or three, extra batteries with me when backcountry camping.

London Drugs has a great selection of batteries for almost all cameras! Added bonus they also offer a wide assortment of chargers for your batteries if you’re looking to charge all your batteries at once.

Keep your camera cool

Onto tip #4: if you’re going to be leaving your gear in the car while camping and it is hot out, you’ll want to protect it! Bring an empty cooler or something that will keep your gear cool and out of the heat. This will also protect it in the back of your car. I find this also helps with lens changes. Camping can be dirty and dusty, so make sure to keep your sensor and lens protected and clean.

Bring a portable tripod

Tip #5: Invest in a good/packable/reliable tripod! This will give you a chance to set up some great landscape shots, or allow you to maybe get in the frame and capture some memories with you and your friends. A tripod is always a good thing you to keep with you, especially if it’s small and doesn’t take up too much room.

Invest in a good backpack

Tip #6 is for both car camping and backcountry camping: invest in a good backpack! This will allow you to keep all your gear together. My bag has a rain cover which is essential when I am backcountry camping; the weather is unpredictable in the mountains and you never know if it might rain! I personally have a backpacking backpack that I put a camera insert in, however you can purchase bags with camera inserts in them. Having a good backpack will also help protect your gear when you are putting it in the back of the car or keeping your backpack in the tent with you while you sleep.

Get to know your surroundings

Tip #7: If you are a landscape photographer make sure to know the area that you’re camping in. Make sure you know where the sun will set and rise to make sure you capture those beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Whether you’re car camping or backcountry camping, know where you’re going to be sleeping and do a quick internet search to see if there is anything unique in the area you might want to capture.

Use a camera clip

Tip #8 is primarily for backcountry camping and something I find to be essential. Invest in a good camera clip that attaches to your backpack strap. Some are sleeves that slide onto your backpack strap and some are metal clips you clip on. I love capturing moments during camping trips and this allows me to have my camera accessible at any moment so I don’t have to stop and pull out my camera and slow everything down.

Print your favourite shots

When I’m finally home from an amazing backpacking or camping trip I always try to order some of my favourite images as prints. This allows me to keep those moments with me. It is also a great gift idea! Have a great photo of your best friend laughing at the campfire? Why not put it on a mug or a blanket or pillow? Better yet, you can create a poster collage of a whole bunch of images from that trip, or even use those photos to create your own calendar! The London Drugs Photolab has a great selection of different ways you can print your favourite memories and share them with your friends, or keep them for yourself.

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