What a drag!

Montmartre cafe, evening

It became more serious with my compact Olympus camera, my fascination for taking photographs. Of course, throughout my adult life I’d owned cameras, from the Kodak Instamatic bought for a holiday in what was then Yugoslavia, clicking shots through the plane window as we flew over the Julian Alps which seemed within touching distance below us.

My fascination was ratcheted up a notch or two when I enrolled for a tapestry weaving class. Driving across the hills to attend I would be struck by the light, the view, an unusually shaped tree, or something quirky that attracted my attention — all firing the creative process. It was then I bought the Olympus to record such sights, small enough to fit in bag or pocket, yet it took reasonable photographs

Through various other cameras and miles of film, curled like some Victorian spinster’s ringlets, snapped through the years, my latest camera (purchased quite a few years ago now — don’t years fly!) was bought online. The internet provided the opportunity to search for what I wanted for my long-promised trip to Paris. Nothing fancy, no additional lenses and accoutrements, it had to fit comfortable in handbag, take good photographs of a size whose resolution I could increase for use in print work, and have a good zoom to capture all the sights as we floated down the Seine on a bateau-mouche.

We are sailing

Bateau-mouche on the Seine


Using the zoom to capture the figures on the spire of Notre Dame in Paris

Towering above us

Base of Eiffel Tower and bridge from a bateau-mouche.

I bought a Canon PowerShot SX210 IS. And honestly the lovely gold colour it came in had nothing to do with my choice, though the 14X optical zoom definitely swayed me. I still use it regularly and still love it.

Looming like a giant wedding cake

The Sacre Coeur looms like a giant wedding cake above Montmartre. From its terrace there is a breathtaking view over Paris.

Since first married my husband and I have always made our own Christmas cards, initially drawing and hand printing them, now using photographs printed on our desktop printer. Throughout the years, although never considering ourselves ‘proper photographers’ we have used our own images for leaflets, brochures, programmes and in exhibitions, and more recently in this blog. To me, in photography as in writing, it’s what you capture in your own distinctive way that matters.

Alexander Reid and plants

Panel at the exhibition I put together on Alexander Reid and the Japanese Influence: Art, ships and plants. Alexander Reid was the Scottish art dealer friendly with and painted by Vincent van Gogh.

Japanese plants and Reid

Another panel from the exhibition in which many of my photographs were used.

So, having downloaded Apple’s iBooks Author programme and copied and pasted my book into it as a way of exploring how it works, I ended up, not with another text only version, but with a novel containing photographs and even a brief introductory presentation. I had to buy Keynote for this rather than use Powerpoint which is a much better programme, but needs must, and for the simple presentation I put together it was fine. The presentation once inserted into iBooks Author only shows the initial slide and has to be viewed on an iPad for the whole show.Screenshot of start of a chapter

A screenshot from my iBook version of my novel In the Wake of the Coup

Adding photographs in iBooks Author is child’s play. Faced with a choice of templates, both landscape and portrait, rather than select the portrait Classic Text option I chose the Biography version so could begin each chapter with a photograph which you simply drag into the appropriate section. A selection of different page layouts is provided to chose from along with cover, Intro Media, Table of Contents and Glossary (very simple if you want to use it). I didn’t have a video hence my Keynote presentation. And all those who struggle with Word’s Table of Contents will be lime green with envy that iBooks Author creates this automatically.

Choice of typefaces is limited — but then for books it’s not a good idea to stray from the plain and easily read. And for anything else you can use a jpeg. Text is placed within the page text box and if you have set up your paragraphs correctly, will flow beautifully into place. You want a photograph to illustrate your text? No problem. Drag one in, move it around, size it, and the text will automatically flow around it. I added captions to make sure the photos stayed where I placed them. The added bonus is that on an iPad you can tap the photos and they enlarge to screen size. Magic. Tap the presentation and it launches and runs at the transition speeds you set in the Keynote programme.

In the Wake of the Coup, screenshot with shell

Screenshot of page with photograph of a shell.

Like all good programmes everything can be adjusted to suit your own likes or specifications, you can even design your own template, but hey, why make things difficult when there is no need.

To preview how your book will look you simply attach your iPad to your computer and click the Preview button. Your book is then transferred for you to check all is as it should be. Then, having navigated the reefs and rapids of the registration process, you can download iTunes Producer to which you add your meta data, up to five screenshots of your book and a sample chapter to entice potential readers, your book cover and your book.

In the Wake of the Coup screenshot - eagle-eyed

Eagle-eyed – photo seemed appropriate for the story of the book.

Then I sat and twiddled fingers and finally went off to make the meal while my stuff was checked and uploaded. Now I’m waiting for my illustrated, interactive version of In the Wake of the Coup to appear on iBooks. Fingers crossed.


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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6 Responses to What a drag!

  1. Pat Mosel says:

    Your book makes interesting reading, and is clearly enhanced by expert photography.

  2. Walter says:

    Nice post

  3. Japan, Japan all over the western world. I´m amazed at how fascinated people seem to be. I just heard that they will display an exhibition in Sweden this summer with ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) and drawing your own manga inspired by the rain forest. Yup, rain forest… don´t know how that adds up though. However, I will not have the pleasure of attending, I´ll be in London working at the time.
    Nice work!

    • For a century and a half Japan has inspired Europe. When researching Alexander Reid, the Glasgow art dealer painted by Van Gogh, I came across online a wonderful book written by designer Christopher Dresser on his visit to Japan in 18?? – Japan: Its Architecture, Art, and Art Manufactures. It appears to have been reprinted. As well as telling of his travels, it contains wonderful drawings he commissioned. Well worth a browse.

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