Category: Bookish Banter

New Book Bags in my Zazzle Store

The Blank Page Bookish tote bag elaine howlin literary blog zazzle store

Hi everyone, I recently updated the range of bookish tote bags available in my Zazzle store. These would make a great gift for the book lover in your life 😉

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All bags priced at €18.90

When Shall We Three Meet Again 3The Blank Page 3PocketWatch Book 3Coffee and Reading 3Book surrounded by Dried Roses 3

 

5 Great Articles from the Booksphere

Shelf-Discipline: How to Read More Before Your Next Book Spree

“At Goodreads, we always encourage our members to read more. But sometimes, the number of books still waiting on your Want to Read shelf can feel a little daunting… So we asked avid readers on Facebook and Twitter if they’ve ever tried a book-buying hiatus: a temporary (and we stress temporary), self-imposed ban from buying more books until they finish the current ones on their to-read list. Needless to say, some reactions were (understandably) strong… ” – Marie, Goodreads

10 Inspiring New Memoirs by Women Hitting Shelves This Fall

priscilla-du-preez-607182-unsplash Woman reading book with coffee

“With the arrival of fall comes a feeling of renewal and self-invention. If you’re looking for inspiration this coming season, we recommend picking up these powerful memoirs written by tenacious and talented women. Check out this list of new inspiring memoirs by women below.” – Ashley Johnson for Bookbub

Zazzle Custom Tank Tops

9 of the Trickiest Riddles from Books

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“Riddles are a time-honored rite of passage for book heroes. As readers, we love how they test the hero’s powers of perception, thinking, and creativity — and how they test ours, too! Feel like a bit of a brain teaser? Try your wits against these tricky riddles from books and see if you have what it takes to be a bookish hero. Scroll to the end to find the answers — but no peeking!” – Elisabeth Delp, Bookbub

7 Novels That Will Take You Back to the 1980s

“If you’re aching for the ‘80s you can always revisit these classic books, but hindsight can be 20/20, and there is something fun about journeying back through a more contemporary read. Here are a few newer titles that will satisfy your nostalgia needs.” – Ashley Morten, Signature

9 Best Fiction Books About Films

“Evoking one artistic discipline while using an entirely different one is no easy task. Yet for as long as moving pictures have captivated audiences, they’ve also captivated a certain group of writers, who’ve viewed the existence of cinema as an implicit challenge. Namely, how does one capture the essence of a film using only words on a page?” – Tobias Carrol, Signature


Visit Elaine Howlin Zazzle Literary Book Gifts Store

How I Take My Instagram Photos

Let me begin by saying I have a fancy camera (Canon 700D) but you do not need one to take good photos. It certainly comes in handy but for beautiful Instagram photos, it isn’t really necessary. Also, I attended a course in photography about 10 years ago so a lot of this comes from what I learnt there.

I also use a tripod but again this isn’t necessary as long as you have good lighting.

I’m going to go through what+ I think about when I take my Instagram photos. From coming up with ideas, composition, lighting, texture, framing, and post-processing.

My Camera Canon 700D How I Take Photos for Instagram Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

Idea Generation

I always start with trying to come up with some ideas for photos. I used to prowl bookish photographs on Google, Pinterest, and Instagram looking for something to spark an idea. Now it’s always kind of in the back of my mind and then I see something (a flower, a tree, a cup) and think “I really want to photograph that“. After I have some props I want to include in my photos I look up how this item has been used before by others. For example, I have a crystal cake stand so I typed cake stand into Pinterest and found these photos.

Inspiration from pinterest for instagram photos idea generation Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Pinterest is my main source for idea generation. It was unbelievably useful when we were planning our wedding.

So using these photos as a general guide I went out and got some flowers, my cake stand, a stack of books, chose a location in my house with good lighting and got snapping.

books and roses on crystal cake stand instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
I took 48 photos using these and got 21 useable ones from this

Some people like to sketch out their ideas before shooting but I like to work from a very general idea. I usually base my photos around one or two particular items that have caught my attention. It may be something pretty like flowers or something with appealing texture like dried leaves.

Lighting

This is the absolute most important thing when it comes to taking photos. A camera records light bouncing off of surfaces, no light means no photos. Daylight is best (unless you have a lighting kit but if you have a lighting kit you know more than me about taking photos). I choose a spot in my house close to a window (usually my kitchen) with lots of light coming through. I like directional light because it casts some shadows and gives depth and dimension to the photos. I set up my shoot to have the light coming from the side and don’t use anything to reflect the light. If you wanted more even light you can use something white to reflect the light onto the other side of what you’re photographing. So if your light source is on the left you would place a white sheet on the right.

Coffee and reading lighting example instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
In this photo, you can clearly see the light coming from the top right and casting shadows

The light needs to be good to achieve what you want. Middle of the day is perfect but sunset can work well too as long you’re able to achieve what it is you want and see everything clearly.

Composition

This is basically setting up all of the props attractively. Placing the main subject in a way that catches the viewers eye then leads them to look around the rest of the photo. The best way to do this is to follow the rule of thirds (that grid you can bring up on your screen when taking photos). This will help you pick a focal point and have lines leading the eye from there to the rest of the picture. Avoid having your focal point in the centre but this does work sometimes. The grid divides your screen into 2 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines and you want to align your focal point (where you want people to look) along these lines usually at a point where they intersect.

Books and roses Rules of Thirds example Instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
The rule of thirds

This does not mean that your photos have to be full of straight lines but once you start looking for lines you’ll see them everywhere. They can be diagonal or curved it’s just something that leads the eye from to the focal point to the rest of the image.

My Engagement Ring Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

In this photo of my engagement ring, your eye is instantly drawn to the ring and then brought out again by the petals of the rose.

Framing

This kind of ties in with composition but I want to make a few specific points regarding frame. The idea here is to really fill the frame. When I’m taking photos for Instagram I’m conscious that these photos will become squares so my frame is a square. You need to get close to what you’re photographing so the rest of the area isn’t visible taking attention away from the subject. There should be several interesting elements in the photo but it should never be cluttered and these elements need to enhance the presence of the main subject. I also always change my angle and take several photos of the same scene from different viewpoints.

books and roses instagram photos framing Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Change viewpoints to get the most out of your set up

Texture

This is a big one for me when taking photos. I like lots of texture and contrast between items in an image. Books are quite plain so the other elements I add need to give depth and feeling without drawing too much attention away from the main subject. I like to use a sheepskin rug, a piece of hessian or a wooden tray as a base for the still life. Texture is kind of hard to explain but I think of it as something that when I look at it I can imagine how it feels.

Strawberries and nuts texture instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
The slate, hessian and sheepskin in this photo give contrasting textures

Post-Processing

And after snapping all those photos they need to get some post-processing. I’ve often heard people say they prefer photos that are unedited but I think this is silly and that these people don’t fully grasp photography. Ye olde film photography has always undergone post-processing it just wasn’t done with a computer. Filters were used in enlargers to change the tone and contrast of the image. Development times in chemicals affected the outcome of the image as well and I’m sure they had plenty of other tricks I know nothing about. Post-processing can mean a simple adjustment to the colour or light levels or a big adjustment to change the style and feel of the image kind of like what I do. I like to give my images a vintage look with a brownish cream colour to them.

before and after post-processing instagram photos Elaine Howlin Literary Blog
Before and after editing in Photoshop

I use Adobe Photoshop to process my photos which costs about €25 a month but there are many free alternatives available. GIMP and Pixlr are both really good editors that I have used in the past. Instagram also has editing tools and filters built in.


Phew! So that’s it. That’s how I take my Instagram photos and some tips that will hopefully help you if you’re struggling or feel that you’re not taking the best photos you can.


You can follow me on Instagram here @elainehowlin_

 

Buy me a coffee on Ko-fi to support creation of future content. Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

All photos by me unless otherwise stated.

 

Books and Charms Unboxing

Books and Charms Box

Books and Charms is a monthly subscription box of second-hand books and bookish items tailored to your desired genres.

I love that they use second-hand books instead of ARC’s and that it’s an Irish company featuring items from other Irish companies. For years I have been pining for an Irish based book subscription box and it’s finally here!

Each box contains :

  • 2 pre-loved books
  • A beverage or snack
  • 2-3 other bookish gifts

Books and Charms Box Elaine Howlin literary Blog

The side of my box was damaged, I’m guessing by the delivery company because the tape on the side had their name on it. Otherwise, the box was in good condition and the contents were perfect.

Books and Charms Box Contents Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

I received two books, tea, a very nice candle, four button badges, a canvas board illustration and a bookmark.

The Books

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker’s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion Elaine Howlin Literary Blog

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.


Order your box from Books and Charms here.

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_