Agnes Caruso Photography

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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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Washington DC Car Show 2017

Car show is an event that seems to attract a wide range of audiences everywhere. Obviously not everyone is getting excited about the same things or even looking at the same things. However, it is hard to dispute that it brings crowds. It was not any different earlier this year in DC. H04A1480

There were plenty of new concept cars, some with new fuel, some extra small, some self driving. Pretty much something for everyone. Toyota showed some really interesting concept cars on the floor. On the left, Toyota FCV Plus Concept. On the right, a Toyota i-Road, not sure if that is still a car or a fancy tricycle. They both look small and you have to judge for yourself if you would want to drive one of them.

A more advanced Toyota Mirai, a hydrogen fuel cell car, was also shown. You could actually see how hydrogen makes this car go.

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Hydrogen fueled engine of Toyota Mirai

The future is already here and you can buy one of those cars. They are a little pricey and you can only drive them in California. So for all those of you in other parts of the country for now you can just look at the pictures.

Among the concepts was Huyandai autonomous Ioniq. Looking just like the rest of the Ioniq line it is well equipped with LiDAR system allowing for autonomous driving. At the same time still looks like a normal car.

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Another interesting feature was presence of a lot of small cars. From a smart car, through a selection of other small vehicles. While they are not for taking long trips, they could be adventageous for driving and parking in a city.

However, not all cars were small, concept, there were also the special ones. Those that we love looking at, some of us can even afford them and they always draw crowds.

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The DC car show was not all just about the cars. It was also about fashion with creations by KennyKAS Custom that were part of the The ART-of-Motion display. Beautiful creations, super patient models produced just a superb display.

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Don’t worry if you missed it, there will be next one coming. It is always fun to see the cars, sit in at least some of them.

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Coffee – little coffee shops discovered in my travels

It seems that coffee is present everywhere. There are coffee shops, espresso bars in so many places that it is hard not to find one. Is coffee good or bad for us will not be discussed here, this is not the place or space for it, I leave that topic to others.

I just want to share some of the really great little spots I visited where coffee is really good. As any Australian I like my coffee strong and it has to have a taste that is not burned. So where are those little gems.

Let’s start in Brisbane – Merlo coffee is served in many spots, with a few of their own coffee shops. It is even on the Goodwill Bridge so you can get that ever important shot of coffee while strolling to work or riding your bike.

16187330482_aea41230a5_z   H04A8899  Da Capo, NYC

One of my favourite spots is Da Capo in New York. A small Italian coffee shop on Madison Avenue has that small perfect espresso, just what you need to pick you up in the morning or energize you during the day. You can match that with some of their pastries or sandwiches. The place is small but then so are many coffee shops in Italy.

On the opposite side of Manhattan there is another small coffee shop with good strong coffee – Ramini Coffee. They used to make fresh juices too but those days are unfortunately over. You can still get fresh juices and yogurts but they are ready made. Coffee, however, and pastries are great. One of the really nice things are mini-pastries.

La Colombe, PhillyWP_20151031_005 (2)In addition to individual coffee shops there are also local coffee shop chains much smaller than Starbucks and with much better coffee and much more personal service. One of such chains is La Colombe, it has unique charm and serves coffee in colorful cups in some of the stores. The first of their coffee shops I visited was in Philadelphia, right in the city center. Nice and spacious with quick service. The DC location is not as handy but that does not affect the coffee you get.

There are also some interesting options in Baltimore, with one of them being this time a French-style coffee shop – Café Poupon. They serve coffees in many different styles, pastries and sandwiches. Some of the pastries look so amazing you do not really know if you want to eat them or stare at them. Nice spot for breakfast or lunch, alternatively just for that coffee infusion.

 

WP_20160527_09_21_00_Rich (2) Kookaburra

While traveling further south into North Carolina, you can stop in Market Street Coffee and Ice Cream store in Chapel Hill to enjoy perfectly sized and tasting cappuccino.

Finally, the home of great coffee is in Florida, you can enjoy good coffees in many spots, but watch out for that sugar finding its way into your cup. Cuban coffee is frequently extremely sweet, so be very sure that you know what you are ordering. Strength is similar to Italian coffees though. Pastries are different and you will not find croissants or danishes as easily. However, there are Australians everywhere and Florida is not different, so there is a small Kookaburra coffee shop in St. Augustine, serving strong Australian coffee and Aussie scones to go with it.

Another great choice in Florida was an Argentinian Buenos Aires Cafe in Miami beach, good coffee and really amazing pastries.

InstagramCapture_67e4858d-e562-4a35-bf45-e532cc4966c4  New Orleans   

Then a place you cannot forget in the south, is Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans with its cafe au lait and beignets.

I have not been to many places on the west coast but one that picked my interest was La Parfait Paris in San Diego’s Gaslight district. A French patisserie with great breads, pastries and good strong coffee is nicely tucked away from the main streets. The location does not remind you of the Paris coffee shops but the taste is definitely there. They offer not only breakfasts but also make great lunchtime sandwiches.

The big challenge is to find a good coffee chop when you travel overseas. While going home to Australia presented little challenge as I already have my favorite spots not just in Brisbane but also in Sydney. A bigger challenge was finding this right spot in Canada. When traveling you frequently end up at one of the big chain stores like Starbucks or Tim Hortons, but you want something better and something unique. In Toronto, the unique is Balzac’s coffee. My favorite location is on Market Street. The slightly European décor makes it feel really cozy. The service is amazing, and early mornings are not very busy, so you can really enjoy your time. There is a little of everything for everyone, organic milk, home-made granola, pastries, coffees and teas. Just sit down and relax. The best part it is right opposite of the market so you can also get fresh and tasty fruit to get a healthy bite.

balzacs coffee  Balzacs lemon tart  Balzacs cappuccino

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World Cancer Day

Pink carpet of flowersToday was World Cancer Day. What is that all about? It is about a lot of things: people we knew and lost to cancer, those who survived the fight with the disease and raising number of people who are diagnosed with it. We can make it about the things most important to us, whatever they are: life, friendship, love, courage…

The first time cancer touched my life was still in primary school, one of our classmates got sick with bone cancer. He fought bravely but unfortunately died at the age of 11. This was a shock to us all, there was nobody there to help us cope with it, we just had to get over it or not on our own.  A few years later my Mum’s friend was loosing her son to a brain tumor over a couple of years. The sad part was there was no way to operate and other treatments were very limited. The young man was a gifted musician. Then my friend’s father suddenly got diagnosed completely by chance and very quickly lost his battle even without realizing what was happening. There was so much sadness and suffering. Those who were left behind were wandering if this could have been prevented, could have someone help to stop the disease. I think that we were all praying for a miracle.

I wanted to help and studied cancer for my degree, but the more I studied the less clear things were.It seemed like cancer was getting more complicated the more we discovered about it. Today we know a lot but in many cases we are still powerless to stop it doing the damage. There are so many factors that can cause cancer and the disease does not differentiate between young and old. It is often a brutal disease killing you slowly for years before it shows up and gives you visible trouble. In Australia and especially in Queensland, we are very well aware of dangers of skin cancer, so we cover up and put on sunscreen. I am still amazed how many people risk their health by sunbathing for hours on beaches around the world.

Susan

However, it was not skin cancer but breast cancer that attacked two of my friends with a very different outcomes. One beat the disease, while the other unfortunately died. Susan got diagnosed suddenly with an aggressive form of disease. Despite it, the initial treatment seemed to have worked, she was slowly recovering, started coming back to the gym and we were running together one more time. She felt optimistic despite the toll the treatment was taking on her. However, it did not last long, a sudden turn and she was not there anymore…

There are many more people who died of cancer, but we are now fighting back and more people have a chance to survive and live longer than ever before. Let’s fight it together and support those who get sick and those who care for those that are sick.

 

 

 


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Design collections – coffee and pastry collection

I have been working on compiling images which can be used for interior decorations of different rooms in a house. My motivation was ability to help my friends with finding something interesting for the walls of their homes. The collections I created at the moment will be changing over time, they are not set. They are also only a small sample of images that are available and can be customized for your needs.

You can use individual images if you wish to create your own wall decor or many different mosaics can be created from images of your choice, they can be framed in many different ways as well or we can even create a billboard. There is also a possibility of custom photography for a collection you wish to have for your house or business.

Below are the examples of coffee and pastries collection. I picked the most mouth watering images and various coffee drinks. Frames are only examples, but many different options are available.

coffee mat  coffee matte

   matte pastries        mate desert

   coffee pastry mosaic framed   coffee pastry mosaic matte

billboard

A new coffee shop, coming soon.

 

 


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Super Bowl Party 2015 – congratulations Pats!

Last Sunday I went to a great Super Bowl party organized by the Triangle Patriots Fans in Raleigh.
The party was at the Backyard Bistro. It was an afternoon and evening of fun and excitement. There were games before the big game. Seems like Tom Brady’s number 12 was the most popular shirt all around, but not the only one obviously. Fans gathered slowly inside, many took part in a raffle and were later joined by a former Patriot’s player Lin Dawson.


Lin talked to the fans and signed photos as well as posed with fans for some. He was a great addition to the party! He also shared a little bit of insight about his organization during half time.

The game was a close one and there were ups and downs, but every touchdown excited the fans and final one caused an amazing explosion of enthusiasm. For some fans it was nearly hard to believe after what we have seen during the game.

The event was a great success thanks to all of the volunteers and Christina, the organizer.


And the New England Patriots made the night memorable. Congratulations!