Ok, sure…November may be a tad early for some when it comes to anything holiday-related. But here’s the good news (and it’s all good news): at no point during this post will I urge you to run out and buy something in order to ‘avoid the holiday rush.’ In fact, today’s topic is just the opposite: unique and personalized gifts you can create in the comfort of your own home.
London Drugs Photolab Home Edition software makes all of this leisurely gifting possible. Simply download and install it on your computer and start turning the best of your digital photo albums into the physical, tangible holiday gift of your choice, including:
A few months ago my wife and I went shopping for an art print for our master bedroom wall. Not exactly art scholars, we were mostly looking for something that would ‘tie the room together’ as the saying goes. We ended up buying a canvas print that we liked as much for the bevelled frame as the artwork it contained.
We’re now looking to replace an art print in our living room. Out of curiosity, I counted all the photos that are currently on display in our home; I then checked how many images are in my computer’s photo library. The result was surprising, to say the least:
Images in my photo library: 8,756
Images on our wall: 23
As insane as this ratio is (and it doesn’t even count the images on my wife’s computer), I can’t help thinking that many people are in the same situation; their photo libraries keep expanding with a wide array of photos—many of which are probably amazing and deserve to be shown with pride, yet when they need to hang something on a wall their first instinct is to browse a furniture store for an affordable yet decent art print.
Perhaps you’ve snapped a photo that you’re especially proud of and want to display in your home or office.
Or maybe you’re just tired of looking at a bare wall, or that framed black & white poster of the Manhattan skyline you bought at the discount furniture store back when you were a student.
Whatever the reason, if you’re looking to display a work of art that is personal, unique and beautiful, you simply can’t go wrong with a canvas gallery wrap.
Using specially pigmented inks with archival qualities, the image is printed on a fine art canvas—which is then stretched around the sides of a 1.75″ frame and secured to the back. Since the printed image is a “full-bleed” (i.e. printed right to the very edge of the canvas, with no border) the image wraps around the side of the frame. This allows for presentation with no art frame required.
The added depth and dimension of a gallery wrap can lend a great photo the presence of a true work of art. High-quality canvas is also one of the best ways to preserve the image’s colour and contrast; if you care for it properly (meaning keep it dry and do not apply water or liquid cleaning solutions), it will last for many years with no noticeable fading whatsoever.
You can order a gallery wrap from the London Drugs Photolab just like ordering a standard set of prints. Sizes range from 40×60″ all the way down to 9×9″, so you don’t need to be staring at a vast empty wall to consider a gallery wrap. The Photolab site provides recommended image size and resolution for each size of wrap. You can choose from a variety of rectangular dimensions as well as square, perfect for anything from a panorama to a close-up portrait.
Apart from size, there are many other ways to customize your wrap. While the wrapped canvas requires no border, you can choose to add a white or black one if you wish. Certain wrap size also have the option of a black floating frame. If you want to add a descriptive caption or a gift note, a custom message can be printed over the image. These little touches can make your gallery wrap even more unique, and make it the perfect complement to your home decor.
You spend so much time planning your vacation, and when it arrives it seems to go by so fast. Extend those fabulous vacation memories past beyond the end of your holiday by making the most of your images.
Here are some great ideas to help your memories live beyond your vacation, and let you share them with friends and family:
1) Canvas Gallery Wraps — If you’ve taken some gorgeous shots of your holiday, let one of our gallery wraps do it justice. Printed on actual canvas, and stretched around a wooden frame, your image will look incredible hanging over a fireplace or in your den. Sizes range from 9″x9″ to 40″x60″ with or without borders. Add custom text, or leave it as is—your choice. See our Canvas Gallery Wraps page for specific information about pricing, image resolution, and uploading.
2) Prints — If you keep up-to-date photo albums, or enjoy scrapbooking, prints are still an important way to go. London Drugs uses its leading edge Dry Photographic Technology that produces richer colour and superior definition by utilizing patented dye inks. You can order your prints laminated to additionally protect them from UV degradation and abrasion, have them mounted on foam core for a rigid display, select different finishes and borders, as well as choose a large array of sizes. Or, turn your 4×6 prints into a mini photobook with our $4.99 “Book-it” solution, available in black or white covers. Simply request this option when picking up your print order and your book is ready in five minutes.
3) Enlargements — You can enlarge your holiday photos to almost any size, including 8”x10”, 12”x18” or go bigger with our Ultimate Enlargements from 16”x20” up to a whopping 44”x66”. A very popular choice is creating panoramic enlargements from wide angle shots. Imagine the gorgeous view of the beach printed from 4”x10”, 6”x36”, 12”x36” or stretch it out to 24”x96”!
4) Ultimate Enlargements with Fine Art Surfaces —Your most striking holiday memories can be displayed beautifully on premium canvas, bamboo paper, or metallic silver print paper.
5) Digital picture frames — This is perfect for your home or desk at your workplace—a never-ending flow of spectacular shots from your vacation. The frames work very simply, simply plug in your thumb drive with a selection or your shots, and plug the frame into a power outlet. This one even has sound, so you can relive your vacation videos as part of the mix. A remote control lets you navigate through images or folders.
6) Photobooks — Turn your memories into a coffee-table book! Our photobooks are hardcover and you can select from over a dozen different sizes from our $9.99 6”x7” up to our most popular 12”x12” photobook. Download our Free Home Edition Photobook, calendar and card creation software.
7) Calendars — Whether you want a family calendar for the fridge, or fun little flip calendars for a desk, turning your holiday photos into a year-long memento is an easy way to keep your memories alive. You can choose different binding, sizes from the convenient 4″x6″ to the impressive 11″x17″, with various qualities of paper.
8) Cards — Greeting cards, postcards, photo magnets, bookmarks…even playing cards! Immortalize your holiday memories in a number of different ways. See what all the options are here.
9) Photo mugs, puzzles, pet bowls, or iPad cases — Not to mention! Put your favourite holiday memory on a mug, mouse pad or thermos – makes a perfect gift for friends and family when you return. There is almost no end to the items you can create with your vacation photos.
10) Hoodie — …or a t-shirt or an apron—put your images to work as gifts. Pictures can be displayed as wide as 14″ across (11″ for the apron) and can even have text added to personalize the gift.
Here is a special offer to help you extend your vacation!
Like a good prairie girl, born and raised, I am obsessed with spring. That first warm afternoon, the melting snow, and the tiniest buds appearing on bare tree branches are little signals the winter is done, and glorious spring has arrived.
Spring botanicals are particularly beautiful. From delicate pastels to bold, riotous colour, nature has provided a spectacular palette. This year, I decided to create a piece of artwork to hurry spring along.
Here’s how it went.
Step 1: Choosing colours to fit my décor
My living room is in neutrals—off white carpet, sand-coloured walls, with a deep grey feature wall and apple green accents. I first thought about a subtle look that would tie in the room’s shades. Artwork that picks up the hues of the room looks polished and sophisticated; I could also leave it up year-round.
For this piece, though, I wanted the artwork to be the first thing I saw in the room. I thought about contrast—deep saturated colours against the neutral background. Off to my hard drive to find a photo.
Step 2: Find your photo
Finding the perfect spring photo was easier said than done. I wanted a close-up look, and it seemed my spring photos were more landscape-style. I thought about setting up a still-life of tulips in a vase. If I took a picture on the macro setting, it would give me the lines and shapes of the tulips, with a pleasantly blurred background.
Just as I was ready to give up, I found this image of tiny tulips. I took it four years ago with an old point-and-shoot camera. The colours are a little dull, and the resolution is only medium, but I thought I could work with it.
Step 3: Photoshop
Time to transform the picture! I have a beginner’s version of Adobe Photoshop that I dabble with from time to time. I opened the image and started playing around with it, but I was unsure of my results—would the printed colours look like what’s on my screen? I decided to turn to the experts.
I took the photo to London Drugs and had them Photoshop it. They use professional version of Photoshop, and more importantly, their monitors are calibrated for the printer. If you are altering colour, a calibrated screen makes a big difference.
My instructions were this:
Here is what they did to the photo.
I love it. The colour retouching brings out the variegated leaves, and emphasizes colour. It is a transformed image that to me, sings of spring.
Step 4: Gallery wrap
I didn’t want to bother with framing, so I opted for a 12×12 gallery wrap. The next day I picked up my artwork, and here’s what it looks like.
Written by Angela Ford, Amateur Photographer
Looking for a gift idea to spruce up a living space? Gallery wrapped art is perfect: crisp, modern, and ready to hang.
Photos do look great on the textured, canvas surface—every London Drugs photolab has samples on display—but I like a fine art look. So, armed with my trusty Photoshop Elements 10 and some good images, I tweaked, enhanced, and filtered to create some lovely effects that make my images wrap-ready.
Last spring, I shot this gorgeous waterfall along the British Columbia coast. I love this picture: the rushing water is dynamic and the rock face has so many different facets.
I wanted a painted effect that would highlight the detail of the water and rock. The ‘Paint Daubs’ and ‘Palette Knife’ options—my favourite go-tos—didn’t look right.
Then I clicked on ‘Accented Edges.’ This filter highlights all edges with a gentle glow. The effect is sensational. The rushing water and rock faces look artistic and crisp, enhancing the most important parts of the image. Printed on canvas, this looks like a painted picture.
Technical note: For the past few months, I have shot everything in RAW +jpeg (check your camera’s menu—you likely have this option). This means I get two files for every one picture: the “digital negative” RAW file and a “snapshot” jpeg.
As you become familiar with post-production editing, you will to work with RAW files. Every time you edit, you lose original detail. In RAW, there is so much information you can easily edit out the bits that don’t work. Editing a jpeg file is a little like using markers on a snapshot—you generally lose some detail and clarity the more you fiddle.
That said, this photo was a large jpeg, and I think it looks great.
When I took the second picture, I thought about composition. I placed the beach shoes in the foreground and the stream of water forms a nice line, drawing the eye to the horizon.
To edit, I first straightened the horizon. This takes three seconds and instantly improves the picture. Then I fixed the colour by increasing the saturation and contrast, creating bold blues and bright whites.
Then, the filter! For this image, I used ‘Palette Knife.’ This gives an impressionist look and mood that I love. The beach shoes and tide pool are the whimsical focal point for this gentle ‘painting’ on canvas.
For my third photo, I took an entirely different approach. This time, I had vintage photos in mind: the timeless look of a black and white photo with hand-coloured details.
I chose a snapshot with a good composition—the kid is well-positioned, his brother is in the distance, and the colourful toys in the foreground are a natural focal point.
First, this photo needed a little first aid, specifically the two ugly shadows in the foreground. I eliminated them by using the Spot Healing tool, essentially painting the sand texture over the shadows.
Then I selected the toys, and converted the rest of the photo to black and white. As I suspected, the brilliant beach colours look magnificent against the greyscale background.
Finally, I applied the ‘Film Grain’ filter, which adds noise to the image, just like photos from years gone by. To me, the final product is poignant and moving, a completely different mood than the original. On canvas, this photo is gorgeous.
Hints for choosing photos to turn into art:
No time to spare? London Drugs experts can add Photoshop effects for you. Come in and tell us what you want—photo editing can be as little as $6.99.
Order gallery wraps online at www.londondrugs.com/photolab.
Written by Angela Ford, Amateur Photographer