Agnes Caruso Photography

Photography


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Self-publishing with Blurb

Did you ever wonder if the photos on a phone, computer or prints stuck somewhere in an album are all there is to your holiday shots or important family event? The answer is no. You can create beautiful photo book which will tell the story and showcase your images. Such a book can become a focal point of discussing your just finished holiday or can become a great present for family or friends. The uniqueness will make it stand out and be very special.

Now you say that it may be just too hard to make a book, you need special software, it gets too difficult to layout the book…and the excuses keep coming. In the next few blog posts I will show you that it is not that difficult. It takes some time, creativity and ability to pick just some out of hundreds of pictures you took.

Blurb is one of the self-publishing services and it offers a variety of book formats, paper choices and also e-books. They offer their own layout software, in case you do not have access to publishing software like Adobe InDesign or image editing software like Adobe Lightroom.

Thus far I have used their software BookSmart and BookWright. While on the outside there is very little difference between them you cannot publish all the different formats using BookSmart. This software is only good for creating photobooks and associated e-books. BookWright on the other hand can create photobooks, tradebooks, magazines and e-books in multiple formats. The differences between the different publication types are primarily in prices and appearance. In order to make the best choice, it is a good idea to order a swatch set from Blurb. This will show you first hand the quality of paper and color as well as black and white prints.

  

When making the choice, you should consider first of all why are you creating the book? It is to be just for you? A gift for someone? Or will you be interested in selling it? All those considerations are very important. Especially, when book is intended for sale, you will have to consider the price of the final product.

Let’s look at the general workflow of creating a book.

  1. What tool to use to create your book depends on your experience level, software you have access to on your computer and why are you creating this book. There are many options and if you wish you can hire a specialist to do it for you as well.
  2. I suggest that you download the software you wish to use, either BookSmart or BookWright. Having it on your computer gives you a complete freedom in making changes when and where you wish.
  3. Give your book a title. Do not worry, you can change it later.
  4. Select a number of pages you want to have in your book. A default is usually 20 pages. Again you can add or subtract pages as you wish later.
  5. One important decision best made at the beginning is the size of your book. While it can be converted later, you will create a lot of work for yourself to adjust sizes of images, text and margins. So this you should get correct at the beginning.
  6. There are many layouts available from Blurb, but those are totally flexible and customizable.
  7. Make sure that you have a set of the images you want to use in a handy place. A larger set is just fine, no need to stress over them yet.
  8. If you want to add text, you can create .rtf files or type directly in a book. Again, place any additional files in a dedicated folder so you do not have to search an entire computer.
  9. Remember to use only images to which you have copyright or you have licensed them for this purpose. If using even your friends’ or family’s images always give credit. There is a copyright section where you can do that.
  10. You may be tempted to use an auto-create book feature in Adobe Lightroom. By all means click on it, however, I found it a bit awkward to use.
  11. As Blurb is the publisher, their logo will appear in the book, if you are serious author, you can replace it with your own for a fee. This can be your last decision before submitting the book for print.

 

Are you now ready to start creating?

If so I invite you to the next installments of my blog. I will take you through some of the details how to create a simple book and tell a story from your holidays. Remember that until you submit the book any mistakes can be fixed, layouts can be changed, titles, page numbers, even the format can be altered.

 

 


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Creating social media posts – Pinterest

When it comes to social media, branding, creating special posts there are many tools out there that you can use. I was actually interested in how the tools compare with respect to ease of use or capabilities. Let’s have a look at Pinterest posts. In order to make it comparable, I picked the same photos and the same message. I decided to compare two free to use tools – Canva and Adobe Spark as well as Corel PaintShop Pro 2018. Both of the free tools also offer upgrade options that we will get to a little later.

The aim is to create a post about preparation of a perfect cup of cappuccino.

Canva – first of the three images from the left

  1. Select a post type, Pinterest in this case
  2. You can select one of the available layouts and substitute pictures and text with your own. However, you can also create an entire post from scratch
  3. I filled the canvas with beans image, subsequently added the two other images by dragging them from my uploads onto a canvas and resized them easily
  4. Now I was ready to add text to the post. Text can be added as heading, subheading or body text. You can also use one of the available preset brand fonts
  5. Once completed you can download your creation. Direct sharing is only available for Twitter and Facebook

Adobe Spark – middle of the three images

  1. Identify a template you would like to use or create a post from scratch
  2. You can select one of available layouts, which is what I did
  3. Upload images into the selected template
  4. Resizing of the images is limited and I have found no way to add an image on top of a background image
  5. Adding text is very easy, as is altering of font face, size and color. Once you are done with text, it can be re-positioned on a page
  6. One strange thing about editing text is that instead of a box on the image, you get a big screen with a line on which you type the text you wish to have. This text gets resized easily, it is just a bit awkward when you are creating your post
  7. Once you are done your post is ready to share. Image can be downloaded, a link can be shared on Twitter, Facebook or by email

Corel PaintShop Pro – the third of the images

  1. Select File>New and select a Pinterest template under Social, select a background color
  2. Select and open the images you want to use in your post
  3. Copy each of the images as new layer to the background layer
  4. I selected on the images as a background image
  5. Resize the images to your liking, if needed you can adjust the appearance of images or crop them as you wish
  6. Images can be rotated, framed and positioned anywhere you want on the page
  7. Subsequently I added text and then saved the file as .PSP file for any future changes  and as .JPG for upload to Pinterest

   

What is the verdict now that the posts are created?

  1. Ease of use – Canva and Corel PainShop Pro – 5/5, AdobeSpark – 4/5
  2. Ability to resize/re-position images – Canva and Corel PainShop Pro – unlimited, AdobeSpark – limited
  3. Text choices – Corel PainShop Pro – unlimited, Canva and AdobeSpark – limited
  4. Templates – Canva and AdobeSpark offer a number of templates, only one free canvas in Corel PainShop Pro
  5. Availability of stock images – only available in Canvas, some are free and the rest is priced at $1.00
  6. Importing images – all tools allow import of images from a computer, AdobeSpark also allows import of images from Lightroom, Creative Cloud, Google or Dropbox
  7. Sharing posts – all of the creations have to be downloaded before they can be shared on Pinterest.

What functionality do you get for free?

Canva allows you to share your creations with up to 10 people, you can organize your designs into 2 folders, upload up to 1Gb of images and access over 8000 templates.

AdobeSpark allows you to create graphics, sync creations across the devices, it also allows you to resize the image for other social media posts or standard sizes

In order to add your personal branding: logos, text and colors in AdobeSpark you need to upgrade to Premium for $9.99 a month. AdobeSpark is also available as part of Creative Cloud.

Canva on the other hand will require you to upgrade before you can resize your posts, save your brand colors, logos and fonts. You also get unlimited folders, access to 300 000 free stock images/illustrations and templates. Pricing is $12.99 per month per user and you can have a team of up to 30 people.

Corel PaintShop Pro 2018 is not free, although you can get a 30 day free trial for testing. Pricing is $54.99 for a downloaded version. It offers you full ability to edit your images, be creative with them and easily resize the posts you created. You can add your own logos, select your own colors and fonts.

What should you use?

The tool you decide on depends on your needs. If you want to do things yourself the best is to try the free tools first to create some test posts. However, you may want to consult a graphic designer or a photographer who does graphic design as well, if you have a particular job in mind.

 

 

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