Friday, January 11, 2013

Windows into Picture Frames

Windows are not just for looking outside anymore. When used as picture frames, salvage and store-bought windows are large enough to accommodate poster-size photo or art prints, or a series of single prints. You can keep the glass in, or there may not be any to begin with. Below are examples of how window frames can be used for framing photo prints:


Lighthouse scene in an antique window frame over a patio glass door


Nautical theme, above, including a beach scene in a round antique window frame, with a salvage corner cabinet painted white with turquoise glass accents


Romantic photo in small-paned window frame


Black and white engagement photo in a distressed white window frame 


Six color family photos in a salvage window frame


Sand pattern photos in a window frame that has retained its glass


Above, my son and daughter in law's wedding in Washington, D.C. framed by a old window I found in the dairy barn. Below, I've included the Photoshop tutorial for the soft-focus effect in this photograph:


Open photo in Photoshop and crop to the desired size.


Add a Curves adjustment layer (click the little half-black, half-white circle at the bottom of the layers palette) and move up the left side of the diagonal line until you get a soft effect (takes out color)


You can add brightness or highlights by adding another point toward the top right corner. Click OK.


Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and adjust the sliders until you are satisfied with the colors.


The final product, a nice soft romantic effect.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Black & White & Sepia Photoshop Effects




The picture above, of a San Francisco city block, has been framed using discarded planking from the back of a large mirror. I printed out tiled 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of typing paper, cut off the margins and taped them together, to see how the picture would look in a large size (in case I wanted to order an engineering print--see the January 4th blog post on Large Pictures on the Cheap). I like the sepia effect enough that I will probably not order the black-and-white-only engineering prints in favor of a color sepia poster-size print.

Below are instructions on how to convert an image from color to black and white in Photoshop using a channel mixer adjustment layer, so you can see how your picture will look printed out. Optionally you can add color back in for a sepia effect.

Convert  Color to Black and White with Sepia

Converting your picture to black and white can give you an idea of how it would look, printed and taped to the size of the frame, in case you do decide to order an engineering print.


1) Open a color photo, crop and add the color adjustments you want. 


2) On the layers palette, click the Adjustment Layer icon (the half-black, half-white circle) and choose Channel Mixer. Adjustment layers are useful because you make non-destructive changes on a separate layer.


3) Click the "Monochrome" box and then begin playing with the sliders, including the Constant, Red, Green and Blue. When you have the look you want, click OK. For a black and white engineering print, skip to #6 below to resize the image dimensions.  Remember that since engineering prints are not high-resolution, professional-quality prints, a lower print resolution, especially with black and white, may be sufficient.


4) To add in sepia tones, create a new Color Balance adjustment layer.


5) For this sepia tone, I have added in mostly red, some green, and yellow.


6) Now go to Image/Image Size, or right-click the blue bar along the top of your image and go to Image Size. Unclick "Resample Image" and input the width and height you will need for your picture. 


 7) When the picture is the size you want, save in (jpeg) image format, and also save in PDF format. PDF allows you to print to the edges, and also makes it easy to tile multi-page prints.


8) With your picture saved in PDF format, you can print using "Tile Large Pages" under Page Scaling in Adobe Acrobat or Acrobat Reader.  With all margins cut off and pages taped together, you can get an idea of how a printed poster-sized picture would look. You can then use your saved image format to order a print or poster online.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Large Pictures on the Cheap

A number of blogs have posted DIY large pictures, framed and mounted without frames, using black and white large-size engineering prints that can be ordered through Staples. Since even discount online photo prints can cost from $20 on up, not including frames, engineering prints are proving to be an inexpensive way to cover a large wall space. To order, check out the Staples Engineering Prints website.

Before you start ordering engineering prints, you may want to read  "What you should know about Engineer Prints" from Interiors by Kenz.  Engineering prints come only in black and white and are printed on thin paper, so they shouldn't be considered permanent decor. That being said, they can be used creatively, as in the following examples:

The East Coast Creative Blog started out by giving DIY instructions for a family photo inside a frame cut from Luan plywood:


If you want to go without the frame altogether, below is an engineering print mounted on insulation board, from Bower Power:


and black and white travel scenery from Our Next Great Adventure:


Pet photos from the East Central Illinois News-Gazette:


Series photos from Luxe Chandelier:


Looks like fun!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cabinet Door Picture Frames

If you are willing to put in a little work, you can make picture frames using unfinished, discarded, or used cabinet doors. I was blown away by the sheer number and creativity of these do-it-yourself projects, using found or discount wood doors.

You can get cabinet doors at salvage centers, including the Habitat for Humanity ReStores.

Some examples of DIY cabinet picture frames, including instructions:


A collage of black and white photos, including scrapbook-type embellishments, sets off this family grouping from Jen at Thousand Words on an nicely turned Ikea cabinet door.


Cupboard door frames with tutorial from The Creative Crate on how to make these change-out picture holders using clips.


Nikki W. at Thrifty Decorating was so inspired by Creative Crate's DIY above, she created her own cupboard clip door frames. Distressed white, with sepia print and bows.


Frame openings are cut into cabinet door, with instructions by Kindra in her At Home With K blog. The distressed white against black suits the use of the salvage doors, here with color photos. Instructions can be found at her Cabinet Door Picture Frame blog post.


Nike at Choose to Thrive carried out a kitchen remodel using the cupboards as the actual frames. Painted black, with white mats, and filled with black and white family portraits.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Photos Above the Desk

I'm surprised I haven't been able to find many published images showing photos arranged above a desk. A desk is a natural place to display family pictures or art to encourage or inspire while one talks on the phone or writes letters (if anyone writes letter anymore) or pays bills or reads the mail. Desks are expected to support a laptop at least, and often attract clutter that doesn't lend itself to studious contemplation or quiet listening--although a pleasant arrangement of photos can help. 

Below, photos arranged over and around desks:


Above, nature photos including blue and gray series photos and white flowers in multi-matted and white-matted square black frames on a blue wall over a simple butcher block desk.


Cream-colored roll-top style desk with red-painted drawers, set off by additional free-standing cubbies, a red ledge, and black and white family photos in silver frames. The Polish pottery and German salt glaze stoneware add blue accents.



Adorable idea--hand drawn picture frames! From Apartment Therapy's Hakarl and Jili's house tour.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Resizing Photos for Printing

My Nikon camera takes photos with  a resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi for printing), but not all cameras have this default setting. 200 dpi to 300 dpi is usually sufficient for most photo printing, although you can go higher if your software, printer and photo image have the capability.

If you saved an image from Facebook for printing, for example, you may be disappointed because the 72 pixels per inch (ppi for monitors) of most web-based jpeg images is not sufficient for printing clear color photos. Web-based images are usually optimized at a lower resolution to make them load faster, which is the opposite of what you want for printing. Downsampling is a term that applies to reducing the number of pixels or dots in order to make a smaller image. (Note: Sizing a picture larger, or upsampling, is another discussion!)

Your printer may allow you a choice of print sizes, but there may be times when you want to edit a photo to exactly fit the dimensions of a frame, and you don't want to lose any digital information available to you.  To find the original dimensions and size of your photo:

Hover your cursor over an image on a Windows device, it will tell you the file type, dimensions, and size in kilobytes. However, to figure the dots- or pixels-per-inch resolution, you may need to open the photo in an image viewer such as the quick and useful free conversion software IrfanView

click for larger image

As you download and install IrfanView, make sure all images are associated with it so they open quickly. Click on your image so it comes up in IrfanView  (if it doesn't, drag your image file to the Irfan shortcut) and go to Image/Resize/Resample.


You will be shown the width and height in pixels or inches as well as the dpi resolution. If you like, you can resize by measurement or percentage to save in a number of different file formats. IrfanView does not automatically refigure the DPI input number as Photoshop does, although you can input the dpi yourself, if you have an idea of what it should be. 


To make the best use of your photo's digital information, open in Photoshop, then go to Image/Image Size, or right-click on the top blue margin of the photo and choose Image Size. You will be shown the image size and resolution. The photo above shows a size of 22.222" x 16" with a resolution of 72 dpi. The dimensions are far too big, but I would like a better resolution as I decrease the size.


Unclick the "Resample Image" box, which will enable Photoshop to recalculate the resolution to make use of all available digital information as you size down. In this case I have a 5" x 7" frame. You may need to crop in order to get the dimensions right. As the image (document) size decreases, the resolution, or the dimensions of each pixel or dot, increases. 

(The Pixel Dimensions indicator at the top of the dialog box stays the same since it is actually measuring the total dimensions of all pixels.) Downsampling (checking the Resample Image box) will cause the Pixel Dimensions to show a smaller number alongside the original number.


Resizing images this way also applies to making small pictures larger, if you have sufficient resolution to begin with. This way you will not be upsampling, or interpolating, by letting Photoshop guess what the pixels ought to look like in order to keep the original resolution of 300 dpi. Photoshop will only use the digital information that is already available.

In this old black and white photo scan, I want a small picture of each of the girls' faces for a hinged frame.


Cropped and needing a little restoration help.


The cropped image is about 3/4" x 1" with a resolution of 300. My frame openings are 2.5 x 3.5", so I replace the width and height input in inches, making sure the Resample Image box is unchecked.


Although this lowers the resolution to 87, it will be sufficient for the very small frames,especially since it will be black and white.


Here the sepia  is turned to black and white by adding a Channel Mixer adjustment layer, checking the Monochrome box to take out color, and adjusting the Constant sliders for contrast and the Red, Green and Blue sliders for the right mix of shades of gray.  Ready for printing.


Helpful websites for a better understanding of print resolution:

Understanding Resolution and Resampling
Changing an Image's Resolution and Size
Digital Photos and Ideal Print Resolution
All About DPI, PPI and Printing
Print Size and Viewing Distance
Image Size Calculator
Best tools to crop and resize images online
Best online photo editing websites

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dittle Dattle's DIY Frames

Carrie at her creative Dittle Dattle blog has posted several DIY tutorials, including framing projects for nautical custom frames, a frame-within-a-frame and a (higher skill level) shadow box frame. She also created a great home project wall display using square white frames. Her clear instructions and  running commentary are delightful, as well.


Pretty matted frame-within-a-frame instructions can be found at Dittle Dattle's Framing Frame


Instructions for these nautical frames using pallets or rough-sawn lumber,  boards, nut mounted glass, and chalk paint are available at  Nautical Custom DIY Frames


Carrie's gallery wall collage, including an Ikea rug


Instructions for making shadow box frame in two parts:  Shadow Box Frame Part One and Shadow Box Frame Part Two. 


No instructions for these 20"x20" white frames using 1"x4" boards, although you can make a request. See them at Square Chunky Frames


Thanks Carrie for you and your husband and your DIY frames! For more, go to Dittle Dattle Blog