Up Close & Personal: Photography

By Kate Riley July 30, 2009

As you know, I am knee deep in the remodel of my home office.  In actuality, it’s becoming more of a ‘ladylike library’ and I like that.   Doesn’t ‘library’ sound much more fetching than ‘home office’?  Please indulge me in my brand new fiction.  It’s not a home office, it’s a library.  Shall I pour some tea?

For years, I’ve wanted to incorporate a series of framed botanical prints into some area of my home, and my ‘library’ seemed the perfect place.  I hunted high and low, in used and new bookstores, to find a coffee table book of blooms that I could cut out and frame, much like the designer did for this cover of Home Magazine.  I even resorted to websites offering prints online, but the cost was prohibitive. 

scan0003Home Magazine, June 2006

In frustration, I turned to my garden.  I thought if I could photograph some of the lovely white blooms in my own backyard, then perhaps I could make them into something worth framing.  Not a novel concept, but worthwhile nonetheless, and an inexpensive solution.

Here’s a peek at my new wall di


office photos final

Now I am no Pioneer Woman when it comes to photography.  That momma’s got the photog thang down.  She owns it.  But I have a great camera (digital Nikon D60) thanks to Mr. CG’s birthday present from last year.  And I know how to use Picasa.  It’s free, and it’s easy.  So here’s what I did. 

First, I hit the mega two-for-one sale at Aaron Brothers (did you see my tweet?).  Then I tuned my Nikon D60 to high resolution and took several photos of the white blooms in my yard.  My garden is full of them right now.  Then I turned to Picasa to give me the look I wanted.  I reasoned black and white was classic, and perfect. 

I started with a high resolution color image from one of my gardenia topiary trees that looks like this:

Yard Flowers 022

For all of my flowers, I followed this formula.  With Picasa, I converted the picture to black and white, cropped it, deepened the shadow, and gave it a soft focus on the edges.  The gardenia became this:

bw gardenia

Here’s yet another example from my front yard.

Hydrangea before:

Yard Flowers 013

Hydrangea after: 

bw hydrangea

I had the prints enlarged to 11×14 at Costco for $3 each.  I also picked up some mats for $5 each at a local photography shop, then framed them all, and hung them on the wall in my office library. 

Do you recognize the thrift store sofa?  I recently had it professional cleaned.

sofa in office

And I am loving the color and texture of my new grasscloth wallpaper that I installed all by myself.


As much as they may look like the pictures that ‘come with the frame’, they are personal to me because I grow these blooms in my own garden.  How can you go wrong with pictures of white flowers? 

black and white flowers 

above sofa


  1. Do you like grasscloth wallpaper?  Are you remotely interested in a tutorial on its installation?
  2. How awesome is the Pioneer Woman at photography and Photoshop?
  3. What software do you use to enhance your personal photography? 
  4. What are your plans for the first weekend in August?


  1. Are you kidding? Of course we want the tutorial on the hanging of the grass cloth! Yes you are quite the pioneer photog woman. Well done!

  2. Yes grass cloth tutorial! And yes, your photos are lovely. I use picasa as well but appreciate the tutoring on how to get the particular effect you came up with.

  3. 1. LOVE the grasscloth wallpaper! I love your whole room redo so far actually. It looks so sharp! We're renting so we can't put up wallpaper, but I'm saving this for inspiration for the future!

    2. I've never been to Pioneer Woman but now you have me hooked!

    3. I use Photoshop to enhance my photography and I'm always learning new tricks (again thanks for the Pioneer Woman link!)

    4. For the first week in August I'm hoping to finish up some projects I've been meaning to get to all summer. One of them is a chair redo for our "library". We'll see how that goes!

  4. Absolutely adore grasscloth, but would never in a million years attempt to hang it myself.

    Picasa for me, cause it's free. PW is the queen, to be sure. And she cracks me up.

    Having a garage/moving sale this weekend. Ugh!

  5. Wallpapering of any kind scares me. (It was the breaking point in my former marriage!)

    Pioneer Woman does some incredible stuff with Photoshop and her photography is wonderful. (Though I read her because I love her take on life.)

    I use Picasa for my personal photograpy -such as it is! I tried the trial version of Photoshop and discovered I was too stupid to do it!

    My niece's graduation and acceptance to law school party is Saturday and my nephew's first child is being christened on Sunday with a large party after. This weekend will be all family, all the time!

  6. I think it looks amazing! I also have just printed and framed some of my own photos and blogged about it. Yay for almost-free art! Oh, and I use Photoshop CS.

  7. I love the library concept. It was my favorite picture in your inspiration blog. I am a gardener too. I think your wall of garden photos is stunning. I take pictures all Summer to use in my embroidery. I think they are now destined for frames. Thanks for the inspiring idea.

  8. LOVE those photos!!! Nice job …they look great on that wall!

    Yes I'd love to have a tutorial on the grasscloth. I'm not sure I even know what it is but it looks lovely on your walls!

    Yes, I heart Pioneer Woman! She's got the best photos out there and her recipes are delish too! I wish I had $$$ to invest in more camera lenses.

    I use Photoshop Elements. I've also been attempting to learn digital scrapbooking with it.

    I'll be around the first week of August…I think! We'll be getting ready for some big trips. Ack!!!!

  9. I would love too see how you accomplished hanging the wallpaper. Pioneer Woman rocks!!! I also use Photoshop and am still trying to figure it out. I need more patience and time! The first weekend in August is special because it's our 17 wedding anniversary and we'll be celebrating!!!

  10. I think the wallpaper is just gorgeous! I love the texture and the color. I would love the tutorial on how to hang it.

    And I LOVE the botanticals. You did a beautiful job.

  11. Hi, Kate. I thoroughly enjoy visiting your blog each day, and today's post was especially lovely. I commend you on decorating your library with your own photos — what a special treat to see those each time you enter the room.

    To answer your questions:

    1. I learned about grass cloth only recently, and it really does intrigue me. Bring on the tutorial! :)

    2. Yes, PW rocks!

    3. I use Photoshop Elements to edit my photos. I have a very old version (3), but it still suits my needs just fine. I highly recommend it!

    4. Hmmm . . . first week in August. Remodeling the kitchen, remodeling the kitchen, and oh, remodeling the kitchen. (sigh)

    Have a great weekend!

  12. The black-and-white photos are beautiful! I love the symmetry of 6 or 9 frames in an array. As far as the grasscloth is concerned, I'm afraid I'm not a fan. Our first house had grasscloth in the bathroom, grasscloth in the kitchen! Here the grasscloth, there the grasscloth, everywhere the grasscloth! Maybe in moderation it can be attractive, but it's just not for me.


  13. I love the grasscloth and have thought of using it in my office – one of the walls is 18 feet high, though. I'm not sure I could hang something straight while balancing on a ladder. I'd love a tutorial, though!

  14. Beautiful! Your work is so inspiring to me. I have never really decorated because we didn't have buckets of money sitting around for that, well for anything really, but now I am scouring thrift stores and garage sales and falling in love with spray paint. Some progress is being made and I am having a blast! Thanks for your work. And I love some PW! She is amazing.

  15. Please, please share how you hung that gorgeous grasscloth! What an amazing color! Also, could you share any care tips?

  16. I would like information on the grass cloth.

    Horrors! I don't alter my photo's. Truthfully, I am happy just to get them downloaded. :)

    I will be sewing darling drapes for my daughters new apartment this weekend.

  17. WOW! those prints look amazing. and the grass cloth is awesome-was it hard to install? wallpaper scares the pee-pee outta me!

  18. Yes please on the grass cloth tutorial! The prints look amazing… I love your diy finesse!

  19. Very feminine and lovely! This past spring I had my "office/studio room" made over. It was a garden room, which meant it still had one brick wall. Had it all drywalled and painted. Good laminate floor covering. I spend most of my time here when not in the garden. It is my sanctuary. A girl has GOT to have her own space. A room of one's own is mandatory! (Or at least a space carved out of a room until your kids grow up and leave for college!) You're going to love it!

  20. LOVE the "up close"!!!! I can get a bit carried away and my cats get scared! But its so fun!!!! I just have the program that cam with my mac…looking for something better…but not like Photoshop, which I could never "get"!

    m ^..^

  21. Love the photos and the grasscloth wallpaper. You did an amazing job however that's no surprise to me. Remember to enter my giveaway, it starts today.

  22. Oh, and you asked questions I forgot to answer:

    I just had all my walls painted, so I for one don't need the tutorial. The only software I use is when I blog in Windows Live Writer. After I upload my pics, I hit sharpen and brighten (or something like that). And I have no plans for the first weekend in August.

  23. Love the grasscloth. Your "library" is exquisite!!
    First weekend in August is the 127 Yard Sale, billed as the World's Longest Garage Sale. Stretchs over 600 miles and 4 states. I'll just be hitting up the Ohio portion of the sale.

  24. Someday we'll have our library, too.
    The wallpaper looks really good with the fabric you chose for the pillows. Could do lots of reading in there!
    And the framed picture are awesome. It's great how something suddenly looks professional once framed, and to answer your last question, this weekend I'll frame some of my little artist's first chef-d'oeuvres to put in her big girl room. And I'm painting some child sized rocker and crib (found in a thrift store). I might also get a job interview, and I'll try to pass my car probatory liscence (never too late…)

    Oh, and I use linux's GIMP to ahence my photographs. It's awkward at the beginning but when you know how it works it becomes really easy.

  25. Okay – I. LOVE. IT.!!!! What a fantastic idea and job – the frames work so well with the overal scheme too! Can't wait to see the whole room. Did you bring the pics to Costco on a disk or camera card?

  26. You go girl! That has to be one of the most fab rooms I have seen in a long time! Love it!

  27. Yes, i'll have a cup of tea..don't forget the scones with a dab of butter please!! LOL!!

    I'm currently very tempted to get some wallpaper for one wall in our guest room…is putting up grasscloth wallpaper different from the "normal" wallpaper?

    We'll be spending this weekend looking at cars, since mine died THREE times this week. what a grand way of spending my birthday….*pfffff*

  28. thanks for the costco photo tip! can grasscloth go into a rental? (probably not, but the anticipation will make my first owned home even better). i use iphoto to do basic editing on my photos. and im going to santa barbara this weekend for a last bit of beach time!

  29. YES! Love the wallpaper, love the botanical prints, love Pioneer Woman! And I am sooo jealous of your amazing thrift store sofa! I NEED one!

  30. I thought the first picture of your room was from a magazine!!!! Looks that awesome!
    would love the tutorial!
    I use gimpshop, it's a free program similar to photoshop, I've even followed some tutorials of photoshop using it, I would still love the real thing but $$$$ is in the way of that :)

  31. I use Picassa too! Love it.

    I would love to see a tutorial about the wallpaper, and how much it cost you!

  32. Do you like grasscloth wallpaper?
    It looks very pretty how you used it! I'm just not a wallpaper fan for myself.

    Are you remotely interested in a tutorial on its installation?

    How awesome is the Pioneer Woman at photography and Photoshop?
    She is unlike any other. I have an old photoshop I'm dying to install and play with. Now if my monitor only didn't go on the blink…

    What software do you use to enhance your personal photography?
    For now, Picasa as well. It does ok. But I often get frustrated when I want to make the photos do more than what Picasa allows. That only means I've surpassed the Picasa level. :)

    What are your plans for the first weekend in August?
    If our heatwave continues, stay in the backyard and enjoy my son's pool. There is simply nothing else that can be done when it's this hot out! GAG!! (BC Canada here, we are use to rainy cool days)

    Your photo wall looks lovely! So does your sofa. The room makes me look around and think… huh… I need abit more refinement around here. Thanks for the kick in the right direction!


  33. You did a GREAT job! Looks like a magazine spread. :) I took your advice and tried Picasa. :) I like it a lot, but need to play around with it/posting to my blog. I'm hosting my sister's bridal shower tomorrow. Her best friend is co-hosting with me. BUSY! :)

    Swing by my blog today if you have a chance…I have a fun announcement up (after the name of the Giveaway winner). :)

  34. Faaabulous, as always :]

    1. Not really a grasscloth fan myself, but I am sure plenty of others are!

    2. I think your photos turned out beautifully :] I especially love the hydrangea.

    3. Photoshop, of course!

    4. Decorate our new house with plenty of inspiration from your fab blog :]

  35. I would like to see how you did the wallpaper, but honestly the idea of doing it scares me – only because I'm the to-do list person in the house and I rarely have help.
    Rather than wallpaper my LR I resorted to a faux look using glazed paint. It looks so professional that my husband's contractor friend looked at it and asked who we hired to do the walls. I'll be doing a faux silk fabric glaze technique in our BR once I finish the LR. One room at a time!

    Ever try a glaze technique?

    First week of school (for the teachers & assistants anyway) starts this week so I'll be off to work!

  36. PW is awesome. Drool worthy for sure!!

    I use photoshop for my pics.
    I love using my own pics blown up, mated and framed for art in my home! It is special and I can make it look exactly how I want it.

    It's a bonus that it costs less to take my own photographs and print them than it does to buy someone elses! :)

    This weekend I hope to play many games of Settlers with my husband and my (visiting) brother. Love that game!!

  37. Those turned out great! I love to use Picnik to edit my pics. It's free, but there is an upgrade I'd like to buy sometime.

    I'm not sure what we are up to this weekend.

  38. Though I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now, this is the first time I've commented. I really love the botanical photos and am so happy that you accomplished it with Picasa. I use it sometimes, I'm just intimidated by the price and complication of Photoshop. Excellent and inspirational artwork. Oh, and PW is awesome. I like her photography, but LOVE her sense of humor. I love people who can "keep it real." Thanks for a great blog.

  39. I love the photos!!!! They are gorgeous!!!! I really enjoy looking at your blog!

  40. 1. LOVE grasscloth wallpaper. My parents had it in their house in the 80's and it's back in all new glory!
    2. She ROCKS!
    3. Picnik.com – LURRVE it
    4. I hit 40 today and we are having family over to celebrate and then I have out of town friends arriving on Monday. We are in Austin and we are getting some MUCH needed rain tonight.
    -Shannon in Austin
    You might also like:

  41. Love the photos and the frame arrangement.

    How do you like your camera? Is it simple to use?

  42. Picasa is great – have you tried Picnik? It does a pretty good job, too. PW rocks.

  43. Extremely interested in the grasscloth installment tutorial! I want grasscloth in our master. The first week of August we are closing on our house (YaY!) and going to 127 corridor sale-the longest yardsale!

  44. I think the walls look fantastic.
    I use picnik to edit my photos
    And I'll check out Pioneer Woman now!

    I was not helpful

  45. Gorgeous! Your blog is an inspiration…after seeing your grass cloth, I attempted wallpaper…yep and it didn’t go too wrong…I will do it again The photos are awesome! and real…I like that! Thanks!

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