Decorating with Acrylic Prints: Mixbook Review

Mixbook Acrylic Print Review: Vibrance and Glossy Detail

If you’ve read my earlier posts on canvas and metal print wall decor, you know that I like using my own photos to create inexpensive, unique artwork for our house. One medium I had never tried before was acrylic, sometimes referred to as Lucite or plexiglass. So I decided to make my first-ever acrylic photo print with Mixbook and all I can say is if you haven’t tried acrylic before, you need to give it a shot.

Acrylic Makes a Statement

Acrylic is modern, classy, and long-lasting; the surface is highly glossy so it gives eye-catching substance and 3-D depth to your images, almost like you’re right there in the scene. It’s much lighter than glass and pretty sturdy, although it can scratch. While acrylic photo prints aren’t as ubiquitous as the traditional canvas prints, I’m finding more and more companies, like Mixbook, offer this format. It costs a bit more than canvas, but for the right photo, it’s totally worth it.

The acrylic gives your image a 3D effect and Mixbook uses hidden mounting hardware so there are no posts in the corners of your photo.

Mixbook’s Acrylic Prints

After some deliberation, I decided to print a photo I took at Laguna Beach on a brilliant spring day when the water sparkled and the sky was very blue. Mixbook makes the order process easy and it’s the same as for their canvas and metal prints: I simply uploaded my image and placed it into the page layout in their editor.

Mixbook’s website has very easy navigation; the product creation and ordering process are straightforward, and their array of tools for designing and editing projects are top notch with lots of options. Had I wished, I could have used multiple photos in the layout, or add text, background, and stickers. Since I had previously done my retouching in Lightroom before uploading my photo, I just chose my print size,  previewed my image in 3D, and ordered.

Barely a week later I received a very sturdy box with my acrylic print safely inside. I must say, it was packaged extremely well, including shrink-wrapping, and it probably took me 10-15 minutes to just get the box open. But it was worth the effort – my print looks stunning! The colors appear extra vibrant and the detail is crisp, in fact, the vibrancy is much more apparent than on canvas, my usual medium of choice. I can’t wait to hang it!

My print arrived with extremely sturdy packaging and instructions for hanging.

Mixbook prints on ¼ inch acrylic, which is a fairly standard thickness. My print came with pre-installed hidden French Cleat Mounting hardware, screws and drywall anchors, plus hanging instructions. So for hanging my print, all I need to do is mount a small cleat to my wall with the included screws, then attach the print to the cleat and it will stay in place.

Mixbook's acrylic prints come with re-installed mounting

Mixbook’s acrylic prints come with pre-installed French Cleat mounting. The small bar (cleat) at the top gets mounted to the wall.

This kind of mounting makes the image look like it’s floating off the wall and nothing obstructs the face of the photo. Other companies I looked at like Snapfish and Zno use chrome or aluminum posts, which are round pegs that stick out the front and back of the four corners. I much prefer the hidden hardware look vs. those metal posts because the posts obscure small parts of your photo.



Mixbook’s Acrylic Print Sizes

Prints are available in 14×11”, 20×16” and 30×20” both landscape and portrait, and you can also order 3/4” thick free-standing, 6×6” photo blocks. I ordered a 14×11” print, priced at $99 before promos. I snagged 50% off on a sale so, at $49 it was a pretty decent price. Mixbook has weekly promos; the current one through July 1 is 40-50% off. With discounts, the cost is pretty competitive with other companies. Keep in mind that in general, acrylic will likely cost a bit more than canvas no matter where you order your print, but the result pays off.

What Kind of Photos Make Good Acrylic Prints

Acrylic is an amazing medium and quite versatile. It can really make a statement. If you have a photo with rich colors spanning the color spectrum it will look terrific on acrylic because it enhances detail and highlights contrast and color on a smooth, glass-like surface.

Travel photos, landscapes, marine life photos, and casual portraits of kids work especially well on acrylic. Macros would look great as well.  I’ve also seen family photos and even wedding photos that look fabulous on acrylic. If you want to print a formal portrait, though, I think canvas is a softer, more classic medium for this type of photo. But hey, rules are meant to be broken, right?

A Bit of Background on Acrylic Printing

I should mention that there are two kinds of acrylic printing. The first method is the face mounting method where the image is printed onto photographic paper and then mounted behind the acrylic. The second way is direct printing, where the image is printed directly onto the acrylic. While face mounting can be even more vibrant and is often the preferred way for pro photographers who are making high-end gallery prints, it’s labor-intensive and often quite expensive, and it may not last as long as direct prints. Mixbook prints directly onto acrylic with a layer of white backing which adds a translucent effect.

What Home Styles Do Acrylic Prints Work Best In?

Most people think that, because of their sleek, polished look, acrylic prints look best in more modern style homes or room décor. A cottage-style shabby-chic décor, a very traditional décor or a rustic cabin ambiance may not work as well, though it could depend on your photo’s subject. If your home is one of those styles you might be happier with a traditional canvas print.

Acrylic is a versatile medium with great vibrancy and gloss

Decorate Your Enclosed Patio Walls With Acrylics

Want to jazz up your patio for summer? Think about using acrylic outdoors in areas that don’t get direct sunlight or rain, such as an enclosed or covered patio. Direct prints, like those from Mixbook, would work fine because they can tolerate humidity, though I would put them in an area protected from the elements. According to their customer service, Mixbook’s acrylic prints can be used outdoors as long as you ensure they’re properly and securely installed.

Do your photos justice. Try making acrylic prints from your favorite images, and you won’t regret it. Have you ordered an acrylic print? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

To help defray my website operating costs I belong to several affiliate programs.  In some instances, I may receive a  small commission for products viewed or purchased via my referral. Opinions are solely my own and I try my best to write honest reviews and only recommend products I use myself.  

Posted in Reviews | Tagged acrylic prints, canvas prints, mixbook | Leave a comment

5 Tips for Incredible Summer Vacation Photos

Guest Post by Ori Guttin

Are you getting ready for your longed-for summer vacation? While the memories of your time away will always stay in your mind, you may also want to capture some stunning pictures of your trip. While living in the moment is important, capturing those moments so we can reminisce is almost as vital.

The good thing about capturing memories during the summer is that the weather may actually be on your side! With sweeping blue skies and a shining sun, your photos will have a summery glow which only the best natural light can create.

Here are some of the best Viewbug tips for taking stunning vacation photography.

1. Know Your Stuff — Research Is Important

Whatever your destination, it is bound to have spots of outstanding beauty. Maybe there are certain buildings or national parks that are instafamous — there will be a reason for that! Before you hop on your plane, train, or automobile, it’s crucial that you seek out these spots, so you know where to take the best photos of your trip. It’s worth checking the hashtags on Instagram for your location to get a good flavor of what is on offer. What you find may surprise you. The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco is a good example of an instafamous location which selfie-takers just can’t get enough of.

2. Try to See if You Can Catch Different Weather Conditions

Photographing in different weather can make for more interesting shots
Take advantage of the rain for more varied shots

While perfect sunshine is what most of us hope for on vacation, it doesn’t make for a great variety of shots. For a beach shot, you may want a shimmering sun, shining sea, and bright blue sky — but what if you’re trekking through a jungle? A good amount of rain can make for exciting and varied shots — just make sure you protect your camera and equipment from the elements by using plastic covers and bags where possible. Make sure you check the weather each day, that way you can plan which shots to take, when.

3. Don’t Be Afraid of Animals — They Can Add Some Life to Your Photos

If you’re looking to get your David Attenborough on, a vacation is an ideal time to do this. Unleash your inner naturalist and run wild taking pictures of animals in their natural environments. When it comes to taking nature photography, however, you need to bear a few things in mind. It’s important to be respectful of natural habitats— remember, technically you’re intruding on animals’ homes. Be careful not to disturb, and exercise extreme patience if you want to capture the perfect image of a majestic creature on its home turf.

Try not to disturb animals in their natural habitat
Be respectful of wildlife

4. Think about Taking Photos at Night

Some of the most stunning photos can be taken under cover of darkness. There is something magical about night time. We start to notice things we didn’t during the day, and any lingering light looks instantly mystical. You could take an amazing photo of the night sky by taking some tips from our night photography course. What else could you capture at night? Perhaps a fireworks display taking place during a local festival. There are so many opportunities for taking shots which are only possible at night.

Night shots can be dramatic
Night time city scapes can be dramatic in black and white

5. Consider Capturing Photos on the Move

Capture a waterfall's motion by using your shutter speed to blur the water
Use a slow shutter speed to make a waterfall look smooth

Have you ever thought about taking action shots? There are a few things that you can do to capture situations and subjects while on the move. You may want to take a picture of a majestic waterfall or the sweeping landscape as you go by on a mountain train. You should have your camera at the ready at all times, increase your shutter speed priority, and if you’re focusing on a specific subject, you can blur the background.

Ori Guttin, co-founder of Viewbug

Guest Post by Ori Guttin

Ori Guttin is a co-founder of Viewbug, an online picture-sharing community, and has spent years working in the internet industry.

Posted in Photo Tips | Tagged night photography, vacation, wildlife | Leave a comment

10 Budget-Friendly Photography Accessories For Father’s Day Gifts

10 Budget Friendly Photography Accessories for Father's Day Gifts

It can be hard to come up with something original for Father’s Day and still have money in your wallet, but if your dad is a photo enthusiast, there are actually quite a few photography accessories that won’t break your Father’s Day gift budget. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite photo accessories and they’re all under $25; many of them are under $10! These are high value, low cost tools any photographer can use, regardless of their expertise or type of photography they do. These accessories, aside from being inexpensive, will help protect Dad’s gear and even improve his photography. You could even put together a gift basket with several of these tools. Or get them for yourself! Here’s my list of favorite budget-friendly camera accessories, in random order.

1. Wireless Remote Control Shutter Release Trigger

Foto & Tech wireless remote shutter control
For self portraits and group photos, pick up a wireless shutter remote control to trigger your shutter release

This little gadget will help you take selfie portraits and allow you to get in a group photo by triggering the shutter release remotely. The Foto & Tech Wireless Remote Control works for a distance of up to about 16 feet and is for Nikon users. If you’re a Canon user, try the IR Wireless Shutter Remote Control, compatible with most Canon DSLRs.

2. 18% Grey Card

18% Grey Cards for correct white balance and exposure
Grey Cards help you set the correct white balance and provide a reference for the proper exposure

While you can fix white balance in post-processing, why not get it right in camera? A medium (18%) grey card is an inexpensive way to help you get the proper white balance and exposure. In certain light situations, your camera can be fooled and over- or under-expose your shots. With this Mennon Gray Card Set, you use the grey side as a reference for exposure metering, while the white side helps you get the right white balance.

3. Lens and Camera Cleaning Kit

This isn’t just handy, it’s a necessity. You’ve gotta keep your gear clean. Your lens, as well as the camera body, will soon get coated in dust and fingerprints. Luckily there are loads of cleaning kits available including lens cloths, lens wipes, a bulb blower to blow the dust off, and a microfiber cloth to clean the camera body too. VSGO makes some good ones. Another one I like is Altura Photo Professional Cleaning Kit.

A lens and camera cleaning kit is a must.
Altura Professional Photo Cleaning Kit can help keep your lens and body free of dust and fingerprints

4. Battery Holder

If you’ve ever gotten confused over which battery is charged or had them flying all over your camera bag, then you need this. The one I have is the Think Tank Photo DSLR Battery Holder. This very popular product holds 4 batteries and is compatible with most DSLR batteries.

The Think Tank battery holder case keeps your camera batteries in order
This Think Tank battery holder case holds 4 batteries

5. Bubble Level

If your tripod doesn’t have a bubble level or you’re trying to level your camera on a rock or other uneven surface, a bubble level that mounts on your hot shoe is a cheap solution. Here is a three-axis spirit bubble level for Canon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, Nikon, and other DSLRs. Why 3-axis? Because it has 3 different bubble levels to provide more precise leveling. Be sure to read the list of models to make sure it’s compatible with your camera.

A bubble level is great to even your horizon when you don't have one on your tripod
This odd looking thing is a bubble level that fits in your camera’s hot shoe

6. Memory Card Case

While memory cards come in big GB sizes, it’s always smart to have more than one. And if you carry multiple memory cards, a card case can protect them and keep them organized. You can find hard cases, soft cases, and waterproof memory cards. For my needs, a basic soft case works just fine and the one I found by Think Tank is lightweight and compact and budget-friendly.

Get a memory card case like this one from Think Tank to safely hold your SD cards.
The Think Tank Memory Card Case holds 9 SD cards and is compact enough to fit in your pocket

7. Reflector

If you enjoy taking natural light outdoor portraits, a reflector is a must when you’re stuck in the bright, midday sun. It will help bounce light onto your subject’s face and soften shadows, avoiding a face full of shadows and harsh light. Your best bet is a 5-in-one foldable reflector. Do yourself a favor and get a large one, like this Selens 43″ foldable 5-in-one. It has black, white, gold, silver and translucent sides for different lighting situations. It also has handles, which help keep the grip when it’s windy. If you get one that’s too small you will likely regret it because it will be hard to evenly light your subject.

a set of 5 in 1 reflectors will help bounce light onto your subject's face.
A 43-inch 5-in-1 Reflector like this one will help bounce and fill in light

#8 Lens Cleaner Pen

Only so much is going to fit in your camera bag, so instead of hauling your lens cleaning kit with you, tuck in a small cleaning pen like this one from Lens Pen. It has a carbon cleaning compound (no fluids to leak), it’s non-toxic and you can use the soft, retractable natural brush to clean your camera lenses as well as binoculars, telescope lenses and eye pieces.

Use a retractable lens pen to safely clean your camera lenses
A lens cleaner pen with retractable brush is a compact, easy-to-carry too to remove lens dust

#9 Small LED Flashlight

There are lots of uses for a small LED maglite. Try light drawing and painting at night, use it to find something in your bag in dim light, or even use it as an emergency off-camera flash outdoors. Trust me, you’ll soon find a use for a Maglite Mini LED with adjustable beam focusing.

A small LED Maglite is useful for light painting at night or finding stuff in your bag
A mini Maglite LED is a multi-tasking photographer’s tool

10. Bulb Blower

A bulb blower is helpful for producing a quick, powerful blast of air to remove sand and dust from your camera, lens or filter. I recommend you do this before wiping your lens. This way, you’ll have removed any large particles that could scratch your lens before you wipe it. While some lens cleaning kits come with one, they tend to be wimpy. This rubber Rocket Air Blaster from Giottos is top-notch.

Giottos Rocket Air Blaster for removing lens dust
Giottos Rocket Air Blaster shoots a powerful blast of air to clean sand and dust off your lens, camera and filters.

While there are many other low-cost camera accessories (you need something to balance out the high price of your camera and lenses, right?), the above are the ones I’m finding very useful right now. What’s your favorite camera accessory? Tell me in the comments section below what it is and why you love it.

To help defray my website operating costs I belong to several affiliate programs.  In some instances, I may receive a  small commission for products viewed or purchased via my referral. Opinions are solely my own and I try my best to write honest reviews and only recommend products I use myself.  

Posted in Father's Day | Tagged camera accessories | Leave a comment