Category Archives: loving

Thinking of you, Boston

boston print by luciusart

Being a part of the online art community these past five years has given me a sense of how small and connected the world really is. Whether it’s an earthquake in Haiti, a tsunami in Japan, or a school shooting and acts of terror closer to (my) home, these are events that go beyond borders and countries to hit on a deeper level. No matter where you are, you feel it.

I’m feeling it today.

If you are, too, and are looking to help, CNN has a page set up with reputable organizations taking donations.

P.S. This message from Patton Oswalt is beautiful, and I couldn’t agree more with this open letter from Erika Napoletano.

 

Photo source: Boston Art City Heart Map by LuciusArt

 

Loving :: #PantonePairings

It’s no joke, I flat out love these prints.

loving pantone pairings

I’ve been following David Schwen’s Instagram account for a while now, and he’s got a new body of work that I just had to share with you called #PantonePairings.

It started with just a few photos on Instagram, riffing off of Pantone’s swatch idea. Different pairs of food were matched together – milk and cookies, bacon and eggs, wasabi and soy sauce – and the outcome is simple, elegant, fun, and brilliant. Which is not at all surprising from a illustrator and designer who’s worked with some big name clients, like Apple, GQ, and Target.

The best part is that David recently launched his #PantonePairings store, putting those awesome photos up for sale as prints. They are all so much fun that it’s hard to choose, but I’m eyeing the Pancakes and Syrup one. How about you? Which catches your eye?

To see more prints, visit the #PantonePairings store. For more from David, you can find him on his website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, to start.

 

Photo sources: Bacon & Eggs | Bread & Butter | Pancakes & Syrup | Peanut Butter & Jelly | Milk & Cookies | Macaroni & Cheese | Wasabi & Soy Sauce

 

 

Loving :: Valentine Freebies

Friends, I’m off on a photo adventure today, and will be on a plane tomorrow. So, I’m reposting this from last year, since it’s one of my most pinned collages. Enjoy!

 

loving valentines mosaic 2

I love a good freebie, and with Valentine’s Day coming up in a week, there are some really fun ones around.

Ordinarily, I’d pass them right by. Not that I have anything against Valentine’s Day, but it’s not a holiday I usually celebrate much beyond saying “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Still, a lot of Valentine freebies I’ve come across are so stinking cute, I had to share a few favorites with you. I’m particularly smitten with the DIY Valentine Popcorn Party. A movie party like that is just begging for The Princess Bride, don’t you think? (Wuv! True wuv.)

What favorite freebies or printables have you come across lately?

 

 

Source Links:

    1. Simple Valentine’s Banner from Simple As That
    2. DIY Valentine Popcorn Party from Eat Drink Chic
    3. Sweet Straws from Papermash
    4. Made with love tag from eighteen25
    5. Free Printable Card from McLaughlin Designs
    6. Kiss Me and Carry On card from 74 Lime Lane
    7. Photoshop/Elements/GIMP Arrow Brushes from me!

Sources via Family Style on Babble and Lee Mae Marie. Visit those two sites to find even more Valentine freebies.

 

Loving :: Photojojo Camera Phone Lenses

Remember last week when I said I was waiting for my Photojojo Camera Phone Lenses to arrive? Well, shortly after that post went live, a cute little package arrived on my doorstep! I’ve had some time to play with it, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

Even though Photojojo offers them in a set of 3, I opted for buying just the Wide Angle/Macro lens and the Telephoto lens. I hemmed and hawed about it, but honestly, I haven’t had much (or any) need for a Fisheye lens, so I decided against it. It’s just not my style, and since I’ve been playing with the lenses over the last couple days, I haven’t felt the loss.

As for the lenses themselves, they work via magnets. One sticky ring magnet goes directly onto your phone, and there are two general rings – ones for iPhones and ones for all other phones. The only difference is that the iPhone ring has a little notch cut out of it to go around the flash, which is handy. And there are extras of both types, for replacements or to share the same lens between different phones.

Sticking them on was pretty easy (and the instructions are right on the back of the box). I didn’t need to remove my phone case to do it; I just peeled the paper back off and gently dropped the ring into place. There’s some give or wiggle room, especially if you don’t press down too hard, to get it perfectly positioned. Once it’s where you want it, then press down for a minute, let it set for half an hour, and it’s done. Simple.

The lenses then snap to that ring. The magnets all seem to be pretty strong, as I had my camera in a bunch of different positions to take photos and didn’t come across any problems. And in a completely unscientific phone shake test I conducted, they passed. That said, because it’s only magnets holding it on, the lenses can and do move with the slightest direct bump against them.

To protect both the back and front, they come with tiny covers and magnetic backs that have loops to attach to your key ring. Both covers can be a little tricky to get off, only because they are small; but with a little practice, I can get them off smoothly and easily.

My biggest worry, and I checked this before attaching the ring magnet, was that the lenses wouldn’t work with my case on my phone. The camera cut-out on the back of mine is pretty large compared to other cases I’ve seen, so I felt fairly confident it would work, and it mostly did. However, even with the slightly bigger hole, the lenses themselves butt right up against the case, so if your phone case has an opening smaller than mine, or if the opening is closer to your lens than mine, the lenses might not work while your case is on your phone.

My problem area is right at the corner of my phone; there’s just not much space right there. The ring fits, and the lens snaps on just fine, but the lens pushes right up against the side of the opening, so it’s ever so slightly off center. This results in some distortions in the photos, but I honestly don’t notice them a lot, or mind them when I do. At around $20 a piece, I look at these as fun lenses, not necessarily professional glass lenses, so I see the results as kind of playful experiments.

Plus, that has nothing to do with how the lenses perform; it’s totally an issue created by my phone’s case, which can be changed (and the problem eliminated) later.

As for photo examples, take a look:

This is a photo with the Telephoto lens on. I think this little lens has a natural tendency to blur the edges, so the out of focus edges don’t bother me. There’s a little more distortion in the middle on the left hand side than the right – that’s from having the lens slightly off center. Again, I actually don’t mind it personally, because I like blurs.

As far as functioning, the Telephoto lens does indeed bring in whatever you’re shooting about two times closer to you, which is nice. I actually wouldn’t have minded if it was more powerful, getting me even closer. This is mostly because I’m not a fan of any digital zoom, much less the one on my phone, but I’m greedy. Given that this is made for a camera phone, not a DSLR, and is on the lower end of the price spectrum, it’s a pretty nifty little lens.

Standing in the same spot, I switched to the Wide Angle lens. Like any wide angle lens, it extends the range out quite a bit, which is going to be fun to play with. That plane you see? That was above my head, to give you a sense of perspective. It’s so wide that it captures the edges of the opening of my phone case on the right hand side (there’s some natural vignetting happening on the left, in case you’re wondering what that was).

Like the blurs with the Telephoto lens, I don’t actually mind the little vignetting or dark corners. I’m mostly posting photos from my phone to Instagram, and I’m usually cropping it to a square format anyway. Cropping out those corners isn’t a big deal to me, but that’s probably a personal thing.

Now, the Macro lens. This was the one I was most looking forward to trying out, and is actually a part of the Wide Angle lens. The Wide Angle lens has two parts to it, and to get to the Macro lens, you unscrew the top part of the Wide Angle. This can be tricky, as the parts are small, so I found it best to unscrew it while it’s detached from my phone.

Since I haven’t ever tried out a real macro lens for my DSLR, I’m not entirely sure how those work or what they feel like shooting to compare to this one. I can say that this lens feels like a magnifying glass. What did surprise me was how close I had to get to my subject in order to focus with this lens. I’m not talking inches, I’m talking millimeters. This photo is of a wrought iron table, and I had to almost lay my phone down on top of it to get it to focus on the center.

Because all of these lenses add on to your phone’s camera, there’s a little bit of tweaking to figure out how to best use them. Out of the three, this one takes the most finagling and adjusting by moving your camera around until the part you want to be in focus actually is in focus. It also requires a steady hand, so I’ve been looking for places to rest my hand or arm against so the lens has a chance to focus. It also helps to tap on the part of the screen that you want to be in focus before taking the photo.

Big surprise, this been my favorite to shoot with so far. I like being able to get super close up and see all of these random details. I also like that if I wanted to, I can shoot anything with the macro lens and have it turn out intentionally blurry with lots of bokeh, like this photo I took.

So, final thoughts? I like these little lenses a lot, and have been having a lot of fun trying them out. I think they’d be great for someone who enjoys playing with their phone’s camera, and is willing to experiment a bit with them.

Since I wrote up the Gifts for the Photo Lover post, I found that there’s a similar product called Olloclip. With an Olloclip, all three lenses – Telephoto, Wide Angle/Macro, and Fisheye – are a part of a clip-on accessory. The downside is that Olloclips are designed to go on a case-less iPhone, which is a deal-breaker for me; I’m very paranoid about dropping my phone because I’m clumsy and it has happened. But if you’re looking for other alternatives, this seems to be a good one! Be sure to check out their photo gallery for example shots.

 

Your turn – do you use any add-on camera phone lenses or products?

 

 

P.S. The three example shots are straight out of my phone without any editing other than resizing. It was so hard for me not to edit them up, let me tell you.

P.P.S. I named the dinosaur in the top photo Henry. He was in my package, too.

 

 

Gifts for the Photo Lover

I’ve turned into quite the photography-loving fiend over the last year or so. The more I do it, the more I love it! And the more I love it, the more stuff I add to my Want It list. So, I thought I’d channel that into a quick little gift guide, in case you need some gift ideas for the photographer in your life.

 

 

#1: Editing software

A good camera is awesome, but editing software is just as important to make a photo pop. Even the best photos need a little help.

The top graphics and editing program would have to be Adobe Photoshop (the newest version is CS6), but at a price tag of around $600, this buy may be out of your price range unless you really, really love your loved one. For under $100, Adobe Photoshop Elements (newest version is 11) is a great alternative that will most likely satisfy your recipient’s graphics and editing needs. For a comparison between the two, check out this post I did earlier this year.

If your recipient doesn’t need to create graphics, consider Adobe’s Lightroom 4 for about $100. This is a powerful photo editing program that I like to think of as a digital darkroom, perfect for all levels. Or, if it’s a tough choice, think about gifting an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription* instead. I’ve been using Creative Cloud since it released earlier this year, and it’s been fantastic. The best part about it has been being able to use almost every program Adobe makes for one monthly price. This is excellent for those with small budgets, but need the programs to do their work.

Buy it at: Adobe.com, Amazon.com, or local stores that carry software   |   In the photo: Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe Lightroom 4, and Adobe Photoshop Elements 11

* Creative Cloud subscriptions are only available through Adobe.com

 

#2: 50mm prime lens

Does your photographer have a DSLR camera? If so, consider gifting them a 50mm prime lens, if they don’t have one already. Starting at a little over $100, it’s a relatively inexpensive lens (comparatively speaking), but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Quite the opposite, actually! It’s versatile, super fun, lets in a ton of light, produces sharp photos, and, with a low F-stop, lots of blurs. The bonus is that you get all of that with a small investment.

I love my 50mm. If I can, I’m shooting with it because it’s a total dream.

Buy it at: online retailers like Amazon.com, B&H Photo, and J&R   |   In the photo: Canon EF 50mm F/1.8 II Lens and Nikon 50mm F/1.8D AF Nikkor Lens

 

#3: Gorillapod

A Gorillapod is a portable, bendable tripod that works on any surface. What makes this great is that it can be positioned in a bunch of different ways, some of which would be hard to replicate with a traditional tripod. It’s also small enough that it can fit easily into a camera bag. They come in different models – cell phone, point-and-shoot, DSLR, magnetic – so be sure to match up your camera type to the right one.

Buy it at: direct from Joby.com or at Photojojo.com   |   In the photo: Gorillapod SLR Zoom and the Original Gorillapod

 

#4: Epiphanie Bags

You know I’m a fan of Epiphanie Bags. Out of all of the camera-bags-that-don’t-look-like-camera-bags, Epiphanie is one of the most affordable options – but that’s not the only reason I chose it. I wanted something well made, sturdy, fun, and stylish, too, and I got that with Epiphanie. The reason it’s on this list (besides my devotion) is because they recently released a few designs for guys! Guys need some style, too, right?

Buy it at: EpiphanieBags.com   |   In the photo: the Austin bag and the Lola Bag

 

 

#5: Camera Phone Lenses

Over the last month, I’ve become obsessed with camera phone photography. So, as a present to me, I bought myself these lenses for my iPhone. I haven’t tried these out yet because they’re on their way to me, but I’m stalking my mailbox, waiting.

What appeals to me is that these little lenses are small enough to carry with me, will fit on my key ring, and will give my camera phone a little oomph. At about $20 a pop, or $50 for the set of three, it’d be a great stocking stuffer for the camera phone/Instagram addict in your life. And the good news is that it will fit most cameras (check the listing for compatible phones). There’s a little magnetic ring sticker that attaches to your phone, then the lenses cling to that ring. Genius.

Buy it at: Photojojo.com

 

#6: Camera Strap Cover

Another cute stocking stuffer idea is a camera strap cover. I wanted one for the longest time for two reasons: 1) my camera strap digs into my neck, and 2) my camera strap is hot. Since I had a perfectly good camera strap, I started looking for just a cover. There’s a bunch of shops on Etsy alone that you can order from, but I especially like the ones that have a little pocket for my lens cap right on the strap cover. I wear a lot of dresses (year round if I can manage it), and most don’t have pockets, which leaves me either holding the cap in my hand, or setting it down somewhere. Having that little pocket right there is so convenient, let me tell you.

Buy it at: Etsy.com   |   In the photo: Chevron Camera Strap Cover from ShopThePoppyShoppe. The one in the photo sold yesterday, but there are still plenty of other fabric choices!

 

#7: Blurb.com Gift Card

I’ve been a fan of and have used Blurb.com for years to make little photo books for myself and to give as gifts. They were one of the first companies to offer custom printed books, and they’ve grown now to include products like magazines and ebooks for the iPad. They’ve also got several ways to make them – an online editor, a downloadable program called BookSmart, and a plugin for InDesign – and customizing each page is a breeze. If your loved one is crazy about photos, consider giving them a gift card to make their own photo book. Bonus is that the gift card can be emailed or printed off, which is awesome if it’s a last minute gift.

Buy it at: Blurb.com

 

#8: Photography Backdrops

Did you know that you can purchase photography backdrops for photos? In my head, I guess I knew this, but had no idea how or where to buy them. Turns out, there are several sellers on Etsy that sell them! Look for ones that use a medium weight material or vinyl for longevity.

I originally thought that this gift idea is for the professional photographer in your life, or someone who wants to start their own photography business doing portraits, newborn photos, or senior photos. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that crafters, bloggers, or those doing a photography challenge or a regular photo series could also benefit from a photography backdrop! With prices starting at around $30, it’d be a high impact gift.

Buy it at: Etsy.com   |   In the photo: Vinyl backdrops from Ink & Elm3ft x 3ft Distressed Coloful Vintage Wood, 4ft x 3ft Faded Woodslats5ft x 5ft Creamy Bokeh

 

#9: Instagram Books

This last gift idea is for the Instagram lover in your life. I already mentioned Blurb, but I want to point out that they offer an Instagram option using their 7 x 7 inch small square book, which is a fun size (and a Facebook photo book for the Facebookers out there). Another company that can print Instagram books is Artifact Uprising. They’ve got two softcover sizes, 8.5 x 8.5 inches and 5.5 x 5.5 inches. Both of these companies offer gift cards, which is awesome.

But what if a book isn’t quite right? Then direct your Instagram lover to Printstagr.am. This company offers a handful of Instagram-friendly products, like prints, posters, and a calendar, in addition to smaller books. The only downside is that it requires access to the Instagram account, and there aren’t any gift cards available (yet, they say). Still, the products are way fun and worth a look.

Buy the books at: Blurb.com, Artifact Uprising, Printstagr.am   |   Buy the gift cards at: Blurb gift cardsArtifact Uprising gift cards   |   In the photo: Instagram-ready Softcover Book from Artifact Uprising

 

 

Your turn – what’s on your must-have list for photography lovers?