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You want to do some macro photography (taking photos of very little things up-close) but you don't have a bunch of money to spend on a macro lens. Not to worry. There are a few different ways to achieve excellent macro photography with your standard kit lens with an inexpensive adapter you can buy online for around $20 or there is a trick where you can do it for free! What is a macro lens? A macro lens just means that your lens can focus on things that are very close to the front of the lens so it will look bigger in your photo. Most lenses have a minimum focus distance of 10 inches or more, and you can't focus on anything that is closer than that...and if you can't get closer to your subject, it won't look bigger in your photo. *the minimum distance on a Canon 18-55mm kit lens is 11 inches. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 it’s 18 inches. How do make my regular kit lens a macro lens? If you can extend the distance between your lens and your camera sensor it will turn any lens into a macro lens.  Yup, you heard me right...all you have to do is put some distance between your lens and your camera.  You can do this with an adapter called a "extension tube". It's basically just a hollow tube with a camera mount on one side and the lens mount on the other side allowing you to extend the distance between your lens and the sensor inside your camera. It only needs to be extended about 1 inch or so.  You can buy them on Amazon for as little as $12.50.  Fotodiox makes a very basic version that works. Once you extend the distance between your lens and your camera, you will notice that you can get things into focus that are only 1-2 inches away from the front of your lens!  This means they will be larger and more clear in your photo. Set your camera to "aperture priority", find something cool to photograph and start clicking away. Remember you won’t have auto focus, so just move your camera back and fourth until your subject comes in focus. Is there a way to do this without an extension tube? There is another way you can take up-close macro photos with your standard kit lens.  All you have to do is take your lens off your camera body, flip it around and hold the front of the lens tight against the body of the camera. You obviously have to use both hands as the lens won't attach to your camera backwards...but if you do this and look through your view finder, you will notice that things will come in focus about 2-4 inches away from your lens, and they will look HUGE.  If you can hold your lens tight enough to the front of your camera, you can take macro photos right now!  Just a FYI, if you put the lens to 18mm you will get a larger image then if you set the lens to 55mm.  They also sell a “Macro Reverse Ring Camera Mount Adapter” for $7.50 that screws into the front threads of your lens, and then mounts your lens backwards onto your camera body.  Remember to buy the right size for your lens.  A Canon 18-55mm kit lens requires a 58mm filter, where as the Canon 50mm has a 52mm front thread. It works!! Do you have any other tips for shooting macro photos? Tips and hints (as a rule of thumb):
  • you will need more light when shooting macro photography.
  • you will have a very shallow depth of field when shooting macro photography.
  • it's easiest to focus on the subject by moving the camera back and fourth until your subject comes in focus. "Live Mode" or viewing the camera image on the screen is great for doing this.
  • when you disconnect your camera and lens, they can no longer “talk” to each other so you'll lose the ability to auto-focus, and control your aperture. Your camera will default to it's most open aperture setting. There is a way to “trick” your lens into keeping a tighter aperture, but more about that later.
You will find several photos like the one above that I have taken using these methods at www.JTpics.com/flowers
Being an art history geek has its quirks. How do I unwind after a long day at work? I scan through my old art history textbooks. I know it's kind of weird, but it gives me a sense of calm to flip through the well-loved pages and read the words of the scholars and thinkers who inspire me, and in turn, the artists who inspire them. Working with Gallery Direct adds a whole new dimension to my little meditation - with a quick click of a button, I can find high resolution images of my favorite paintings and prints. Last night, I was all zenned out while looking through one of my favorite books, Carol Armstrong's Manet Manette. Not only is this a groundbreaking text, but  it is also one of the first books that made want to go into art history. Armstrong spends her final chapter contemplating a single painting, Edouard Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882). This so happens to be one of my favorite paintings of all time, so I was thrilled to discover that it is also on Gallery Direct. Often heralded as Manet's last great painting, it certainly makes an impression. Not only is it beautifully executed - from the considered palette to the purposeful brushstrokes - it is a veritable field day for art lovers. Reading about this painting for the first time blew my mind. It simultaneously subverts traditional notions of perspective and viewership and yet is still utterly readable and relatable for any viewer. At first glance, it is simply a bar scene - the bottles on the counter frame the beautiful bartender as she waits to take an order. But upon further examination, you realize that the customer the bartender is waiting on is you, the viewer. She stares right at you, waiting. Digging even deeper, you realize that the background of the painting is in fact a reflection in a mirror, and to the right of the bartender, a face is reflected. Like I said, this painting can (and has) been discussed every which way for hours on end. One of my favorite things about it, though, is how it brings together so many of Manet's interests as an artist. While the Impressionists, his contemporaries, were interested in painting en plein air, or outdoors, and capturing the light and colors of nature, Manet's paintings are concerned with the emergence of modern Parisian life. Urban scenes and quotidian subjects abound in his oeuvre, along with a meditation on how art relates to consumerism. Fin-de-siècle Paris was a place of spectacle, and consumption of that spectacle was on the minds of its painters and writers. In Bar at the Folies-Bergère, Manet examines the idea of consumption from multiple angles - the subject itself, a bar, is a place for the consumption of alcohol and food. Moving beyond literal consumption, Manet examines how nineteenth-century Parisians consumed culture at the Folies-Bergère, a popular nightclub, how does the male customer depicted in the mirror "consume" the beautiful bartender, and how do we, as the audience, consume this piece of art? Manet is one of the most complex and confounding artists that I've come across, which is why, I think, he is my favorite artist. His paintings are beautiful and striking, and on top of that, they make me think. When it came down to it, my meditation last night turned into retail therapy - on a whim, I ordered a print of the painting, framed and on paper, through Gallery Direct. I am so excited to have a bit of art history right there on my wall for me to contemplate every day.
Love is in the air so why not capture it on film? Couples photography can get really boring and often when people attempt to get creative it goes terribly, terribly wrong. Here are some cute and tasteful ideas to celebrate your special love this Valentine's Day. Once you have captured your love you can make it into a work of art by uploading it to Gallery Direct and having it printed on your choice of material.    

Mood Board: It Starts With a Story

Tweet So, I’m a shopaholic. I have accepted this about myself (even if my husband has not). Turns out that it’s not very healthy for my bank account for me to shop ALL THE TIME, so to keep my urges … Read More

So, I'm a shopaholic. I have accepted this about myself (even if my husband has not). Turns out that it's not very healthy for my bank account for me to shop ALL THE TIME, so to keep my urges in check, I've started creating mood boards of dream rooms inspired by art. I've been in love with Caroline Ashton's Story series for a while now - check out Story I and Story II. I love the cool teal color palette, and undulating lines. My mood board, inspired by Story I, has a mix of clean, modern pieces with strong lines and more organic-feeling patterns and textures: "Story I" Mood Board Artwork centerpiece: 1. Gallery Direct - Story I by Caroline Ashton The supporting cast: 2. Zinc Door - Modern Pillow 3. West Elm - Blurry Stripe Pillow Cover 4. Layla Grace - Pine Cone Hill Chambray Linen Ocean Pillow 5. Zinc Door - Arteriors Home Mercedes Mahogany Chair 6. Dwell UK - Chenile Twist Rug 7. Wayfair - Gus Modern Adelaide Sofa 8. Occa Home - Joshua Ellis Cashmere Throw  9. My Two Designers - Rodeo Ottoman 10. West Elm - Recycled Glass Jug Vase 11. Noya Decor - Adesso Maui Transitional Arc Floor Lamp What do you think of my Caroline Ashton-inspired design mood board? Does it inspire you? Want to make your own art-inspired mood board? Head over to Olioboard and try it out--for free. You can find some of my favorite Gallery Direct artwork to add to your boards here. Share your mood board and we might feature it on Gallery Direct! -- Follow Nichele on Google+
Let me come right out and say it – I am a big nerd. I studied art history and history in college, so working with Gallery Direct, I get to geek out on our amazing collection of Old Masters, like Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, our modern masters like Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and of course our incredible collection of vintage posters, advertisements, and other cool memorabilia. But I just hit the jackpot. The team here at Gallery Direct has recently begun an effort to bring you a wide array of historical maps, and I have to tell you, I am just crazy about them. Most of our maps are from the nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century, and are as beautiful as they are intriguing. Studying historical maps is such an interesting experience. Not only are you seeing a glimpse of what once was, but how people thought about the world. I am currently lusting over this incredible 1870 map of New York. Being a native New Yorker living in Austin, Texas, seeing this map every day is a great reminder of home, as well as the city’s intricate history. I just had to have it!   These gorgeous maps are the perfect way to decorate your home. If you’re like me and living away from your hometown, you can commemorate your roots in style. Overtaken by wanderlust? Dreaming of traveling? Pick a handful of your favorite cities to put on display as a reminder of your memories abroad, or your future travel aspirations! Many of our American panoramic maps were designed by Albert Ruger, a Prussian immigrant who served with the Ohio Volunteers during the Civil War. During the war, he started drawing pictures of Union campsites. After the war ended, he settled down in Michigan and began his career in mapmaking by sketching maps of the cities of Michigan. He soon became very successful, and in the 1860s, formed a partnership with another American mapmaker, J.J. Stoner, and together, they published dozens of the panoramic maps that we have available to grace your walls today. The printing company Currier & Ives is also responsible for a good portion of our maps, another nineteenth-century outfit that helped pioneer the American panoramic map. I personally feel so lucky to be able to work so closely with these little slices of history on a daily basis, and even more fortunate to be able to see them printed in such high quality! I suggest checking them out on birchwood, one of the many awesome materials that we print on. Are you as ga-ga for geography as I am? What cities inspire you?

Life at Alt Summit as a Sponsor

Tweet Gallery Direct had the pleasure of participating in Alt Summit for the second year in a row.  The Altitude Design Summit is the definitive resource for the very serious business of beautiful, and brilliant blogging. Alt brings together a … Read More

Gallery Direct had the pleasure of participating in Alt Summit for the second year in a row.  The Altitude Design Summit is the definitive resource for the very serious business of beautiful, and brilliant blogging. Alt brings together a community of exciting and creative thinkers and entrepreneurs, complete with workshops and the opportunity to network with your friends, and friends-to-be! So how do the sponsors (companies like us) fit in? Gallery Direct decided to sponsor a dinner on Wednesday evening at one of Salt Lake City's finest restaurants, The Tin Angel.  It was an easy, casual way to get to know the Alt attendees and introduce Gallery Direct to this dynamic group of bloggers and entrepreneurs. What a good looking bunch huh? This dinner was my favorite event, as we had time to sit and learn about our guests, their blogs and life ventures. They are all inspiring and beautiful people. Each guest was given a photo print of a photo they sent to us -- how sweet is this print of Miranda's four year old dressed as a super hero!  For more photos from the dinner visit our facebook Alt photo album.     With two more full days and evening events, I knew we would all be running into one another. This is where you begin to feel like you have made more than a contact, you've made a friend. Check out this fun pic at the HP Photo Booth of (left) Miranda, owner of Onelittleminuteblog.com, (middle) Nichele Lindstrom from Gallery Direct, and me, Joie (right). These are the fun moments that Alt creates for sponsors and bloggers. "There's room for everyone at the table" was a quote I heard at one of the panels I attended and it stuck with me.  Everyone at Alt has many things in common, but the one theme I kept running into was passion.  Whether I met other sponsors or bloggers, or lawyers, or celebrities everyone was passionate. Yes, that is Jessica Alba chatting with bloggers about her company The Honest Co. Honest sponsored a lounge - which is another cool way a company can be sponsor at Alt. After learning about her company and trying a few of the products, I carry around the lavender mint chap stick and can't get enough of it. Other sponsors left gifts at seats, like those adorable earrings above and the last image is one of the biggest attractions at Alt. The business card wall.  Here's a closer look at those adorable cards- this was sponsored by Bing. Experiencing all the beauty created by bloggers and attendees at Alt leads us to one of the best parts -- the speakers!     I won't cover the full two days of panels we attended, but we walked away inspired and motivated to continue to make this world beautiful through artwork and everything we do. Recognize anyone??  It was an amazing line up.     One of my favorite quotes in life is "Love What You Do"  I found this quote turned into a beautiful piece of artwork sitting under my water glass at lunch.  These simple words were on a simple coaster that was created with love and passion, which is why it's so beautiful.

 As I ran my fingers over the perfectly embossed card, I was reminded that Gallery Direct's artists create their masterpieces with the same passion and love, because they love what they do. That is what Alt is about- everyone there loves what they do and they want to continue to keep the world beautiful.

Finding my Path at Home

Tweet I have been working at Gallery Direct since the beginning of November. What a delight it has been – I have artistic co-workers and see beautiful images all day.  I am a graphic designer and picking images for marketing … Read More

I have been working at Gallery Direct since the beginning of November. What a delight it has been - I have artistic co-workers and see beautiful images all day.  I am a graphic designer and picking images for marketing or the website is - to say the least - fun. Since I deal with beautiful images all day, I decided to put together an Evernote notebook for me (any mac users out there?!) with all the art that I wanted to buy from Gallery Direct. Almost 3 months went by, and my list surprisingly was mostly abstracts, a few Asians and lots of maps. Not to mention my own photos that I wanted to print. I would love to have my personal photos blown up and hung onto my walls. One day I realized that - duh - I didn't have enough walls for all that I wanted. I needed another list for my list. Focus! Reduce! Less is more. What did I really want for my house? Where in the house? Which wall? I realized that I would have to repaint some of my walls, because, when we bought the house in 2007, I went a little wild with the color palette, I admit it.  Now, those colors no longer make me happy. As we change, the colors that we love change, the ways that we think and react to visual stimuli also change.  I always welcome change!  Was I dying to repaint the walls? Ouch, no. So while being busy at work and having a high maintenance Border Collie that needs walks and exercise every day, I stopped adding images to my notebook. Until the day I had to make a banner for the homepage. Here it is: Inline image 1 That somehow lit up the little bulb above my head and in a weekend spell, I went to Lowe's and bought the paints I wanted, painted the living room and placed my order: 2 gigantic Todd Camp - Enlighted Path I and II, 48x36. That did it! It was just the "push" I needed to make everything else rock'n roll.  The purchase made me very happy - those colors represent so much of what I like in terms of art - freedom, color, energy (well, at least that's my view... art is art, right?). I also ordered a few smaller ones, which you'll see in the photos below. I don't think of my house as a "chic" place: I know it isn't.  Although I graduated in architecture, when it comes to my own place, it's always been more a joyful play - with room for experiments - rather than the "tried and true" styles that I know will work. Also, having 4 cats (and 8 clawed front-paws) and 2 dogs (how did that happen?), my house is not super tidy. That said, I beg you to please disregard my couch ;-))) Inline image 1 Above: Also look at that Border Collie with her moose toy - isn't she precious? ;-)))) Below: My bike has its own wall. You can not buy happiness, but you can buy a bike and art! Last photo: Colors, colors: such a blessing to be able to see them all!
Inline image 2
Inline image 3
What lights up your bulb?
-Marina

Selecting Art: Sailing in Couture Stilettos

Tweet My most recent project with Gallery Direct was selecting art with a couple in Austin, Texas that just moved from the East Coast. Two very different personalities presented themselves, which is always a fun design challenge. Nicola, a fashionista … Read More

My most recent project with Gallery Direct was selecting art with a couple in Austin, Texas that just moved from the East Coast. Two very different personalities presented themselves, which is always a fun design challenge. Nicola, a fashionista who has an extreme passion for abstract art and design. Her husband Christian, has an intense passion for sailing, the ocean, and very traditional. Their common denominator was entertaining their friends at their known dinner parties. Their Austin home had one of the best modern dining room layouts, providing his and her walls to showcase their personalities in their favorite room. Like everyone, they had a budget so we started at Gallery Direct. Nicola was shocked at the options, but extremely puzzled how to make this important space both theirs. She wasn’t real thrilled to be searching for an abstract ship to compromise. It was important for her to have something colorful and abstract of her own. To ease the overwhelming search for her we took three easy steps to get started, here they are:
  1. Check out the Brand New First Additions
  2. Use the search engine with key words that express an emotion you might want to feel in that room.
  3. Gallery Direct has the best Subjects section online. That is where we found what we were looking for. (Abstract for Nicoloa and Coastal and Tropical for Christian)
We choose the Brisbane by Brett Pfister with an aluminum finish for Christians wall and a series of four abstract pieces by Jamie Packard on gallery wrapped canvas for Nicola. Two Quick Tips:
  1. To help finalize your decision for your art selection, choose three, print them at home or your office, tape them on the selected wall(s). Leave them up for at least a day. By the end of that day you will know which one you want.
  2. When deciding on a size, use blue tape to safely show you the impact of the size on your wall.  Don’t be shy to go big!
Nicola and Christian were extremely excited to have their guests over. They now have amazing conversation pieces with the balance of vibrant energy and the calming sea showcasing both personalities they desired. Until the next project… Give the gift of art to your temple. Make it the colorful palace you look forward to coming home to. Sarah
It's 2013 and everyone is looking for a fresh start, even your home! Join us and @ThriftyChicMom Monday 1/14 at 10pm EST for a fun filled Twitter Party. We will be discussing redoing your home and will have Gallery Direct Merchandising Manager Nichele Lindstrom with us to share her expert advice. Not only that but one lucky participant will win a 1 hour room consultation with Nichele! Plus 5 others will each win a piece of custom art! Be sure to RSVP to the Twitter Party and then join us Monday 1/14 at 10pm EST!  

Kid’s Bathroom Makeover

Tweet Recently I redid my kid’s bathroom and I love the way it turned out. Many people forget about the bathroom when it comes to art but it is the perfect way to make a statement in that room as … Read More

Recently I redid my kid's bathroom and I love the way it turned out. Many people forget about the bathroom when it comes to art but it is the perfect way to make a statement in that room as well. I love to use acrylic in the bathroom that way you don't need to be a worried about splashing water or steam from the shower. I have four girls who share this bathroom and I was looking for a cute kids theme that was not too cutesy as this bathroom is also used by guests in our home. I found an adorable kids themed shower curtain from Kushies but I needed some art. I ended up using the Multiverse II by Benjamin Arnot and it is perfect tying in the color theme while toning down the kid theme. I am thrilled with how the room turned out for more pictures and details about the bathroom makeover check out my whole post on Thrifty & Chic Mom.