July 22nd, 2014

Don’t leave your images on your hard drive or mobile device!

Whether online or in-store, photo books are quick and easy to create.

Whether online or in-store, photo books are quick and easy to create.

This one is fairly self-explanatory. Even though I probably know nothing about you, I am willing to bet that at some point in your life you’ve experienced one of the following:

  • you’ve accidentally deleted a photo off your computer or mobile device;
  • you’ve had a phone or camera—chock-full of stored images—stolen or go missing
  • had a memory card or hard drive go inexplicably wonky and either wipe out all your images or render them irretrievable.

One or more of these three unfortunate events has undoubtedly happened to every single camera owner on Earth since digital became the default mode of photography. Both (a) and (c) have happened to me personally. In the case of (c), it was during one of those once-in-a-lifetime events: my honeymoon, in Turkey. My camera couldn’t handle the near 40ºC Cappadocian heat and scrambled my SD card in protest. Once I got home I had to purchase an external SD reader and download special card-recovery software, and even with all that I was only able to recapture about 80% of them. In fact, it seems everyone has photo-loss story that’s as personal and unique as the pictures they’ve lost.

It took some doing, but I was able to recover some of my best honeymoon pics after my SD card suffered heatstroke.

It took some doing, but I was able to recover some of my best honeymoon pics after my SD card suffered heatstroke.

Despite the ubiquities of accidents, theft and storage failure, most people are still content to keep the vast majority of their images stored on cards and drives. After all, doing so is just so darn convenient that it lulls you into complacency. I actually know of people who’ve had multiple incidents of loss and failure, yet they continue to keep their images stored on their phone and/or storage media. Of course, the ‘cloud’ is becoming ever-more popular as a means of image storage. But how much does the average person really know about the cloud, and how loss-proof such solutions really are? Yes, when you upload your images to a massive provider like Google, Facebook or Yahoo!(Flickr), you can be reasonably certain that they know what they’re doing. But even amongst these behemoths, data wipeouts are not impossible. There is, however, a much more prevalent issue with cloud storage: the problem of ‘cloud sprawl’ (Copyright: me). I currently have images and various other files spread around at least six different cloud-based services: Google Drive, Flickr, Dropbox, iCloud, Facebook as well as others I barely remember. And even though I’m pretty organized when it comes to storage, I confess I no longer know for sure which of my important images are stored where. Most cloud users I know have this problem; you begin building a library on one cloud when suddenly a new cloud server pops up promising more convenience and access. You forsake your current cloud and start adding to the new one; and so on and so on, until your cloud storage system look more like a hoarder’s living room. While not as dramatic as outright data loss, cloud sprawl still becomes a pain when you’re trying to find your most important images. While it may seem counterintuitive, the most effective way to prevent image loss is to promptly turn your images into prints and keep them organized in photo books.  This also offers the additional benefit of keeping your favourite photos handy, and in a format that lends itself very well to leisurely reflection.

Many once-in-lifetime photos weren’t retrievable. I did, however, manage to capture some flags.

Many once-in-lifetime photos weren’t retrievable. I did, however, manage to capture some flags.

Yes, I realize that prints are susceptible to things like fire and flood, overstimulated babies and dogs, and other forms of physical damage. I’m not saying you should delete your hard drive or cloud entirely. I’m just saying that these methods are not the 100% foolproof adamantium data vaults that we allow ourselves to believe they are; and that printing your photos as keepsakes is the best way to ensure all your bases are covered when it comes to preserving your images. As to what kind of photo book your prints should take, I happen to know where you can find a vast array of cool options…say, have I mentioned Book-It?



July 21st, 2014

Capture those holiday memories

As we all know, summer here in Canada is fleeting.

The summer action shot always makes a great photo. But sometimes, the summer ‘inaction’ shot is even better.

The summer action shot always makes a great photo. But sometimes, the summer ‘inaction’ shot is even better.

We spend three soggy seasons waiting for warm, sunny weather to arrive and once it does we have absolutely no guarantee how long it will last. So once it’s finally upon us, the race is on to fill every second with one of the many fun-filled outdoor activities we’ve spent three quarters of the year yearning for. READ MORE



July 21st, 2014

Book-it: a 4×6 photo book in minutes

Just look for the helpful point-of-sale card at your friendly neighbourhood PhotoLab.

Just look for the helpful point-of-sale card at your friendly neighbourhood PhotoLab.

In a world of quick, easy and amazing photo books, the PhotoLab may have achieved the ultimate in inexpensive convenience with Book-it.

Book-it may also represent the end of an icon: the glossy PhotoLab envelope stuffed full of loose prints. Nostalgia aside, this is not a bad thing; who wouldn’t prefer a nicely bound photo book to keep your favourite prints organized and easy to browse?

The London Drugs PhotoLab makes it easy to create photo books in a wide variety of sizes and styles. Book-it, however, requires even less effort; in fact, unlike other photo books, you don’t even need to use the PhotoLab site or software to put it together.

Ask your local PhotoLab for a sample so you can check out the excellent print quality.

Ask your local PhotoLab for a sample so you can check out the excellent print quality.

Here’s how Book-it works:

(1) You order a set of prints through the PhotoLab, either online, using the PC free software, or through an in-store kiosk, just like always;

(2) When picking up your prints at your London Drugs location, simply ask the PhotoLab technician to have them made into a Book-it photo book; in five minutes or less, up to 25 of your prints can be turned into an attractive 4×6″ photo book for just $4.99 plus the cost of the prints. Covers are available in either black or white.

Book-it could one day spell the end for you, glossy print envelope. Don’t be sad. You had a heck of a good run.

Book-it could one day spell the end for you, glossy print envelope. Don’t be sad. You had a heck of a good run.

Perfect for sharing, highly personal and inexpensive as gifts, and convenient for keeping around the house or carrying around in your purse or pack, Book-it makes it easier than ever to get your favourite images off the screen and into people’s hands.



July 3rd, 2014

The latest in Wi-Fi Cameras

WiFi CamerasBy Brett Mineer

On a recent road-trip I decided to leave my digital SLR at home. Instead, I opted to rely on my iPhone to capture all the scenic panoramas and selfies for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. At first glance, the results looked fine. Back at home however, the larger screen revealed a slight blur or graininess to the image. In fact, the larger the screen was the worse the results. Printing or enlarging many of my favourites was out of the question.

READ MORE



June 23rd, 2014

Albums and photo books

In addition to the cover, you can also select from a variety of design templates for the actual pages—or you can opt for a clean, white page.

In addition to the cover, you can also select from a variety of design templates for the actual pages—or you can opt for a clean, white page.

I remember my parents’ system for storing and displaying photos.

Our coffee table had a shelf which contained several massive photo albums. Almost all of them started out very neat and organized but at some point (usually about 3/4 of the way through) the chronology would get mixed up and prints would just end up getting stuffed between the pages. And of course, without fail, every album would have several glossy photo lab envelopes jammed in the back of it, each containing countless more prints and negatives. I think most people whose memory pre-dates digital photos can probably relate.

Cluttered and chaotic though it may have been, at least our parents’ system allowed you to curl up on the couch and leisurely browse through your photos. These days you can store thousands of photos on your tablet, instantly organized in a manner that would take countless hours to do by hand. While it may be more convenient, that old physical, tactile experience is somewhat compromised; swiping a screen is not quite the same as turning a page.

Available from our PhotoLab, Moments albums and photo books are a great way to bring back the tradition of family albums while at the same time getting your favourite photos out of the cloud and into people’s hands. You can choose anything from a more traditional-style hardcover family album to a smaller, more informal yet completely customizable photo book.

Moments Photographic Album

Unlike your parents’ album, these are hardcover albums are completely customized from cover to cover. Both the 12” x 12” square and the 10” x 8” landscape books come with several cover options. For a custom look, design your own glossy cover, or choose a premium fabric or leather cover, with or without an image window. Inside, it can hold up to 30 pages.

Every album uses exceptional inks on high quality photo paper. Our PhotoLab technicians add careful attention to clarity and detail, as well as a professional eye for colour.

Custom or premium hardcover coffee table photo books

Moments photographic albums are available in landscape or square dimensions, with or without an image window, and in a variety of cover materials.

Moments photographic albums are available in landscape or square dimensions, with or without an image window, and in a variety of cover materials.

These are printed on archival bond paper, giving them a contemporary book feel. For the custom version, you get to design the cover either using our PhotoLab software or via our website. Your design is then wrapped around the cover, giving the book a professional yet personalized appearance. You can also choose from a wide variety of sizes, from 6″x8″ all the way up to 12″x12″. Each size includes 20 pages, but you can add pages (for $1 each) up to a maximum of 100.

For a more refined look, Moments premium hardcover coffee table photo books give you the option of a premium cloth or leather hardcover. With a standard size of 10″x8″ landscape the premium doesn’t offer quite the same level of customization, but you can choose from a wide variety of colours (and, of course, whether or not to include an image window.)

Softcover photo books

You can choose and design your photo book online, or you can get a CD from our PhotoLab to install on your computer. You can also use the kiosk at a PhotoLab location near you.

You can choose and design your photo book online, or you can get a CD from our PhotoLab to install on your computer. You can also use the kiosk at a PhotoLab location near you.

Softcover photo books are 8-20 page mini-albums that are made for sharing. Like the hardcover version, these are printed on premium archival bond paper, so your images are brilliantly colourful and vividly detailed.  These books also allow you to design and customize the cover yourself. Softcover photo books are available in three sizes: the 6”x7” mini book, the 8”x8” square book which is perfect for Instagram photos, and the 8.5”x11” book that provides plenty of room for images and text.

The extraordinary value of softcover photo books makes them perfect for commemorating a wide variety of events. And if you have kids, you probably also have grandparents and other relatives regularly asking you for up-to-date photos of them; if so, softcover photo books can also be ideal as small gifts.

Whatever style you choose, a beautifully printed book is perfect for life’s major events—weddings, births and graduation ceremonies, as well as smaller events like family vacations, school plays, or sports tournaments. And unlike a tablet, a photo book sitting on the coffee table actually invites people to pick it up and browse through it—with no password required to unlock it.



June 22nd, 2014

Square photos are all the rage

Square photos: not just for hipsters. In fact no matter who or what you're shooting, or how you want to compose your shot, they can really help focus attention on your subject.

Square Photos Square photos: not just for hipsters. In fact no matter who or what you’re shooting, or how you want to compose your shot, they can really help focus attention on your subject.

If you have even a mild interest in photography, you probably have an Instagram account. If so, you’ve probably also noticed how Instagram has contributed to the resurgent popularity of the square photo (as have a multitude of similar sites like Tumblr and smartphone apps like Hipster Camera.) In fact, square photos have caught on to such a degree that now iPhones and other smartphone cameras even come with a square photo setting.

It’s not difficult to see the appeal of square photos. Current trendiness aside, they are aesthetically superior in certain cases and they do have practical advantages as well. For example, square photos tend to work really well as social media profile photos.

This renewed appreciation of the square photo has also meant something of a resurgence for photo prints, which makes sense. As with any photo, to really appreciate its full effect there is nothing like looking at a properly printed image. While there are still many die-hard aficionados of vintage photography who are still shooting film and developing their own prints, you really don’t need to be that hard-core to appreciate print photography.

Tell me that you've never just played with the effects in Instagram and stumbled across something cool.

Tell me that you’ve never just played with the effects in Instagram and stumbled across something cool.

In fact, in addition to your hard drive, you can download photos directly from Instagram and Facebook to your London Drugs PhotoLab account. If you haven’t already cropped your photos using another method you can use the PhotoLab cropping tool. You can also add a sepia tone or any number of other effects.

Best of all, square prints from our PhotoLab are very similar in price to rectangular prints of comparable size. Speaking of sizes, your square print sizes range from 4″x4″ all the way up to 12″x12″. The larger sizes are a great choice for accent walls—another place where square prints are coming back into fashion. When it comes to finishing, you have the exact same choice that you have with regular prints. All of our custom photo book options can easily accommodate your square photos, or you could even go with a square photo book. If so, you may want to choose a leather or faux-leather cover—hey, you might as well fully invest in a vintage theme for your square photos!



June 20th, 2014

You have a lovely garden. Now shoot it.

Amazing Flowers

Amazing flowers make for amazingly easy shot composition.

While it may have taken its sweet time, it seems the nice, sunny weather has finally arrived in these parts. And sunny weather means it’s time for your garden to shine.

Now that you’ve planted the seeds, tended the soil, watered, fertilized and done whatever needed doing to keep the bugs at bay, at long last your garden has sprouted a vibrant, colourful palette of beautiful flowers. And now that you’ve just taken a step back to admire the rich floral bounty your handiwork has produced, what are you going to do? Well, before you get back to work watering, tending and keeping lonely vigil against spider mites and leg-lifting dogs, here’s a thought:

Why not photograph it?

It’s kind of astonishing how many people grow amazing gardens year after year, yet never even consider taking photos of them. If you happen to be one these wallflower gardeners, I bet it’s because of a lack of confidence in your photography skills. Perhaps you feel your green-ness as a photographer pales in comparison to your gardener’s green thumb, and you don’t believe your photography skills will do your garden justice.

Great Garden Photos

You don’t need a DSLR camera. Your smartphone has a lot of ways to help you take interesting photos.

Well, guess what? You don’t need to be an expert.

Yes, you can absolutely do your garden justice, and you don’t need to be on commission for Better Homes & Gardens to do it. After all, flowers tend to be fairly photogenic; it’s not hard to find their good side and you usually don’t have a problem getting them to sit still. All you really need is the will, so just get out there and start shooting. Play around with angles, light and distance. Spend some time. Like gardening, photography is a labour of love.

great garden photos

Your quest for great garden photos might even take you to your neighbour’s yard. Go ahead. Trust me, they’ll be flattered.

However, if you really feel like you need a little knowledge to get you started, here are a few links worth checking out:

Gardenista:
http://www.gardenista.com/posts/10-tips-for-gorgeous-garden-photos

Apogee:
http://www.apogeephoto.com/mag2-6/mag2-8nb1.shtml

How to grow your garden photography skills (Nikon USA):
http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Learn-And-Explore/Article/gr35ffdt/how-to-grow-your-garden-photography-skills.html

Once you’ve taken a few beautiful pictures of your most glorious garden gems, why not consider displaying them on your wall as well? Our PhotoLab has plenty of options from fine art prints to canvas gallery wraps, and our technicians can help you find the ideal style to complement your images. Or maybe you’d prefer to create a custom calendar to use at work, so that images of your gardening handiwork can lift your spirits during the drab winter months.

Great Garden Photos

You don’t need to be a perfect photographer. You don’t even need perfect pansies.

Gardening brings an enormous amount of satisfaction. That’s a big reason why so many people do it. Again, the same can be said for photography. Which is perhaps why combining the two seems so natural.



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