Tag: book photography

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.

 

My Life in Books Tag

Hi everyone 🙂 it’s tag time. I’m not going to tag anyone directly. If you want to do the tag then please do. I found it on Talk Less Read More.

Article Elaine Howlin Book Blog

1. Pick a book for each of your initials… EH

Embrace the Night (Cassandra Palmer, #3)Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)

E – Embrace the Night by Karen Chance

Recently named the world’s chief clairvoyant, Cassandra Palmer still has a thorn in her side. As long as Cassie and a certain master vampire – the sizzling-hot Mircea – are magically bound to each other, her life will never be her own …

The spell that binds them can only be broken with an incantation found in the Codex Merlini, an ancient grimoire. The Codex’s location has been lost in the present day, so Cassie will have to seek it out in the only place it can still be found – the past.

But Cassie soon realizes the Codex has been lost for a reason. The book is rumored to contain dangerous spells, and retrieving it may help Cassie to deal with Mircea, but it could also endanger the world…

H – Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Half-vampire Catherine Crawfield is going after the undead with a vengeance, hoping that one of these deadbeats is her father – the one responsible for ruining her mother’s life. Then she’s captured by Bones, a vampire bounty hunter, and is forced into an unholy partnership.

In exchange for finding her father, Cat agrees to train with the sexy night stalker until her battle reflexes are as sharp as his fangs. She’s amazed she doesn’t end up as his dinner – are there actually good vampires? Pretty soon Bones will have her convinced that being half-dead doesn’t have to be all bad. But before she can enjoy her newfound status as kick-ass demon hunter, Cat and Bones are pursued by a group of killers. Now Cat will have to choose a side . . . and Bones is turning out to be as tempting as any man with a heartbeat.

2. Count your age along your bookshelf, what is it?

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Eimear McBride’s debut tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist. To read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.

Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.

3. Pick a book set in your city/country.

Old Ways Old Secrets Pagan Ireland by Jo Kerrigan Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

Old Ways Old Secrets Pagan Ireland by Jo Kerrigan

In a land like ours, the old beliefs bring pleasure and wisdom…

Exploring the legends, special places and treasured practices of old, Jo Kerrigan reveals a rich world beneath Ireland’s modern layers.

So many of today’s Irish traditions reach back to our ancient past, to the natural world: climbing to the summit of a mountain at harvest time; circling a revered site three, seven or nine times in a sun-wise direction; hanging offerings on a thorn tree; bringing the ailing and infirm to a sacred well.

Old Ways, Old Secrets shows us how to uncover the wisdom of the past, as fresh as it is ancient.

4. Pick a book that represents a place you’d like to travel to.

Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
― J.K. Rowling

5. Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry Elaine Howlin Literature Blog

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890’s, and enlivened by the debates on scientific and medical discovery which defined the era, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two extraordinary people who fall for each other, but not in the usual way.

They are Cora Seaborne and Will Ransome. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned. Cora, a keen amateur naturalist is enthralled, convinced the beast may be a real undiscovered species. But Will sees his parishioners’ agitation as a moral panic, a deviation from true faith. Although they can agree on absolutely nothing, as the seasons turn around them in this quiet corner of England, they find themselves inexorably drawn together and torn apart.

Told with exquisite grace and intelligence, this novel is most of all a celebration of love, and the many different guises it can take.

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Falling For A Dancer by Deirdre Purcell TowerHouse Dublin MacMillan publishers

Falling for a Dancer by Deirdre Purcell

If the bus hadn’t broken down that August afternoon on the road between Dublin and Cork, Elizabeth Sullivan would never have met George Gallaher, a travelling actor of infinite charm and fatal weakness. She would not have been forced to marry, nor found herself trapped in an alien landscape.

  • I’ve read this book 3 or 4 times since I was a teenager. There’s no one thing about it that I can say I love. The book as a whole just seems to resonate with me.

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer

I hated Breaking Dawn so much the entire time I was reading it but I was determined to finish the series.

8. Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

 

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

  • At over 1,000 pages long it will definitely be an accomplishment to finish this tome.

Synopsis from Goodreads. Photos from my Instagram @elainehowlin_

 

December Wrap Up

First of all, Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a nice Christmas and if you don’t celebrate it, I hope your December was good. Mine was really lovely. We spent Christmas day with the in-laws and Stephen’s day with my family. So much food was eaten!! New Years was much quieter. We stayed in by the fire and watched The Graham Norton New Years Special and then the New Years show on RTE which actually turned out to be pretty good. I now want a water jetpack or at least a spin on one.

December is always a busy month with very little reading time but I managed five books and knocked two books off my Winter TBR.


Master by Colette Gale ★★★☆☆

This is a dirty book. If you’re not into those then please move along 😉

Gale’s second instalment in her Seducing the Classics series is a naughty retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I haven’t read the original mostly because it’s huge and I just don’t want to so I can’t really compare the stories. I have seen the movie though. Master is told from the perspective of Mercedes Herrera, Cristo’s first love who betrays him by marrying one of the men that conspired against him. From reading a previous retelling by Gale I know she has no qualms about changing details to suit the story she’s telling but I don’t know what changes she made here (other than the copious amount of sex the characters have).

It’s a good book but I found it a bit slow and I mostly didn’t like Monte Cristo. But this is Erotica and the point of Erotica is sex and it delivers on that front.

Once Upon A Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt ★★★☆☆

A Christmas novella set in the world of Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series sees Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque, (aka Scrooge) stranded at the home of Sarah St. John (aka the chick Scrooge wants to bang). Adam hates Christmas, Sarah hates rakes (which Adam is of course) but nothing can stop the passion and love and that ignites between these two underneath the mistletoe.

It was fine… I think a story with just a romance isn’t really enough for me. Hoyt’s full-length novels usually have a very interesting subplot to carry the romance but since this was so short there wasn’t really anything else going on.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare ★★★☆☆

The fourth book in Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series brings us back to New York to deal with the repercussions of what happened in the previous book, City of Glass. It’s impossible to talk about this book without spoilers so all I’ll say is that someone has been killing Shadowhunters and making it seem like Downworlders are to blame. Oh the deviousness!!

It was ok… took a long time to get going but it ended well. To be honest I don’t know if I’ll bother with the next one…

Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole ★★★★☆

My highest rating for December. Bit of a meh month thank Zod for Kresley Cole, eh?! The eleventh book in Cole’s Immortals After Dark series and the first book in her kind of spin-off series The Dacians. The reclusive vampire race known as the Dacians were introduced in Lothaire but we get a better understanding of them here. Trehan Daciano is hunting down a fugitive in Bettina’s kingdom during a bloody contest for her hand and the crown of her realm. Upon meeting her he discovers she’s his Bride and enters the contest.

It’s classic Kresley Cole if you like any of her other books you should like this.

An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne ★★★☆☆

Kelly is told by a psychic that she has already met the love of her life and they will be together by Christmas. This sparks a hunt through her list of ex’s to find this man not realising he’s been standing next to her all along.

If you like contemporary romance, especially ones set during Christmas, then you will probably like this. I’m not a big fan of contemporary romance but it was enjoyable enough. It’s very light-hearted and easy to read.


And that’s it for December and 2017. I’m hoping to read 6 books in January, so far I have one done and I’m halfway through my second. To reach my goal for the year I need to read about 2 books a week so I’m a bit behind already… oh well 😉

Happy reading everybody!

All of the books mentioned are available from Book Depository with free worldwide shipping.

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Swoon Worthy Bookstagrams

I could spend hours scrolling through all the bookish posts on Instagram. I love seeing what people are reading and what they thought about the book. If they’re reading anything I read or want to read and how they’re taking their photos.
There are some Instagrammers who just steal the show with their photos.
Here are some of my all-time favourites.

Nikki in Wanderland

nikki in wanderland bookstagram

Cozy Books and Coffee

cozy books and coffee bookstagram

4 Cozy Seasons

4cozyseasons bookstagram

Sadie Reads Them All

sadie reads them all bookstagram book photos

Vespertine Volumes

Vespertine Volumes

Rustic Pages

rustic pages bookstagram

Honourable mention to Hot Dudes Reading because hot dudes!!

hot dudes reading instagram

You can check out my Instagram HowlinBooks1 here.

Howlin Books book photography instagram