Search

Search My Garden Blog with Google Custom Search

12.12.12

Garden Picture Book

Recently, a representative from Blurb contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in trying and reviewing the book making service. Since 2012 was the 7th anniversary of the MrBrownThumb I decided to give it a try and make a garden picture book.




Some of the pictures I used to create my book feature plants, flowers and bugs that I've posted here, and events I was part of over the years I've run this blog. Other photos I just liked, and some I chose to include in the book because they reminded me of people and good times.The cover photo is of amaryllis 'Charisma.'

Overall, the experience of using Blurb was very positive and I came away learning something new and seeing my garden photographs in a whole new light. You can also see all of the pictures in the garden video.



Below I'll post a few pictures from the book and give my full review of using Blurb.


On the right is a photograph of a nephew with his first home-grown tomato. On the left is a picture of a begonia leaf that I just liked.


On the left is a bumblebee about to pollinate some borage blooms in a medicinal garden that I frequented a lot before my mother passed away. On the right is just photo of peas that I really liked.



The yellow daylily on the left represents a gardener I only knew online who shared with me many of her perennials when I started out with this blog. On the left is a photo of part of the 'Art in Bloom' exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. I went with MySkinnyGarden and Jdog to Milwaukee to meet up with Garden Kim to hear YouGrowGirl give a talk a couple of years ago. This was one of the best days I have ever had as a gardener. The car ride was fun, I got to hang out with cool people, and I got to meet Gayla in person. Her YouGrowGirl blog has been a source of inspiration over the years.


Both of these photos were taken at the Lurie Garden. I seem to visit this garden all the time, and I can’t resist going there when the salvia river is in bloom. It’s just a spectacular sight.


The photo on the left is just a small part of Chef Rick Bayless’ urban garden/farm. On the right, is a photograph from the Cook County Jail garden that I visited a couple of times. I paired them together because I like the juxtaposition of the haves and the have-nots, and the message of how gardens are great equalizers. But the Rick Bayless garden photo has special meaning, and documents meeting Garden Girl, Garden Faerie, and Katie during Spring Fling. There were a number of laughs that day and subsequently that I associate those three women with.

Blurb BookSmart

If, like me, you've never published a book: Blurb makes it really easy to do so. It’s ridiculously easy. They provide a program called BookSmart that can be downloaded from their website. You load it up, choose a book size, and a bunch of images from your computer and the software can automatically populate the book for you. Or you can select templates for the pages with different picture sizes, borders, and areas for text. To make my garden picture book, I decided to stick with the full page images and a couple of the smaller dimensions because I wanted to see what happened when the images were resized.

In about an hour you can have a book laid out. If you want some more control and options you can watch the helpful video tutorials they provide on the design process and working with BookSmart specifically. But if you can send an Email, blog, or use social media sites, you can arrange a book using BookSmart.

Photography

Since I have only ever used my photos for my blog(s) working in RGB (Red, Blue, and Green; how pictures are displayed online) is what I’m accustomed to. I've never had the need to convert images to CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black; colors used in printing) before. I've licensed pictures to print publishers several times, but I never had to deal with the conversion process and the limitations of printers. If you don’t have something like Photoshop you don’t have to concern yourself with any of this, but I wanted to learn so I played around with this stuff following their video tutorials.

Fortunately for me, prior to being offered the chance to print this book for free, I had undertaken a massive organization of seven years of photographs. This experience has taught me a lot about editing. Not just about editing photographs for print, but about editing the junk photos from my archives. The book came out to 50 pages and I was having a hard time finding 50 images I thought were “good enough” to include.

A few of the pictures I included came out a lot darker than I had anticipated. I attribute this to this being my first time prepping photographs for print, and some sloppy photography practices on my part. On the other hand, I was really impressed by a couple of the photographs I included and how they came out.

Camera 

Do you need a fancy camera to publish a Blurb book? Not really. I use a Digital Rebel XT, and while some may consider it “fancy” it only captures pictures at 72ppi. Usually for printing a good quality print you need between 250-300ppi. That’s what I meant above about experimenting with the full page and smaller dimension photos. I wanted to see the difference in quality when a picture was full page, to when it was printed in a smaller dimension. Because the number of pixels each of my photos is comprised of is smaller than the standard requirements, I was expecting some really poorly printed pages. But the images came out a lot better than I expected.

Using Blurb

Printing your own books to document a person, event--or even your garden’s progress--can be a snap with Blurb. You don’t need much technological knowledge, and the books can be something only you ever see, or you can use the Blurb service to sell your book to your blog readers. For a small fee they can even convert your book into ebook format for digital readers like the iPad. Blurb’s book dimensions start at 5 x 8 inches and go up to 12 x 12 inches. I used Blurb's BookSmart to allow for customization, but you can use Bookify if you want to create a quick book using your online photos. There is also an option for the most advanced photographers and designers.

I think the total cost of my book was close to $90.00. The price may seem steep, but consider that I chose a larger format book, a hard cover, printed 50 pages, and chose premium quality paper and expedited shipping (which accounted for a large chunk of the price) because it’s easy to spend someone else’s money. But you can produce a 20 page, softcover, 10 x 8 inches book for $19.95. A Blurb book of your garden would make a nice gift for the holidays and birthdays.


37 comments:

  1. I wish people who emailed me to review items sent something as good as this! I get emails for things not even related to my blog. *doh*

    I've used MyPublisher for books before but have thought about using blurb for a couple of thru-hikes we did. Glad to hear you had a good experience!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL. I get a lot of requests to review things that I wouldn't ever buy. Which is why review posts here are so few and far between. But I had to take this opportunity because making a book on the blog's 7th anniversary seemed too cool to pass up. Your blog would make an awesome book. You've got a lot of neat pictures.

      Delete
  2. I have read about Blurb from Garden Walk Garden Talk. She also had a great experience with it. Funny your sidebar ad now shows Shutterfly. I have used Shutterfly for some of my books and calendars. $90 is pretty pricey. Might read more about it and others for my next one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny because mine is shows me Blurb, and has been showing me blurb for the past month since I visited the site to make the garden picture book. I'm like, "I know already, I like Blurb. I'll use it again some day soon to make a better picture book." ;0) It was pricey, but it was primarily because of the shipping. I chose the most expensive shipping option to get the book to me with enough time to publish this post for Christmas. Like I said in the post, you could make one for as cheap as $20.00. I'm also planning on making some picture books of the kids.

      Delete
  3. I had a lot of fun making a Blurb book last year using the posts I'd done about my home town and its history. I didn't do any colour conversation for my photos and I was really pleased with the results. I played around with quite a few of the templates too. I made a 160 page (one of the price point changes in the UK version of Blurb), medium sized, better page quality book which came in at around $60, so there's plenty of opportunity to make a reasonably priced book which has a great personal touch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. VP, thanks for posting your experience. You're right that there are plenty of chances to make a nice book gift for yourself.

      Delete
  4. Your blog has beautiful pictures and great content. I'm surprised you haven't published a book yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliment. But I don't think a book is in my future. At least not in the traditional sense. I don't think I'm that good of a writer, and using Blurb has taught me I'm not that good of a photographer, either. I mean, I'm good enough for online stuff, but nothing that I would personally shell out money to buy. Meeting Gayla and getting to talk to her about being a published author really helped me a lot. Unless I could have the editorial and design control to produce something approaching the caliber of her books, I wouldn't even venture to try and pitch a book to publishers. And that kind of control isn't given to first time authors. I would want to do everything from the design and layout, to the words and photos. I couldn't just put words to someone else's photos. Or have a book I thought was ugly, and there are a lot of hideous garden books being produced lately. Sorry about the rant, but I've been thinking a lot about this lately. :0)

      Delete
  5. :-) Your blog has been one of my favorites. In fact, I was very honored when you stopped by my wordless Wednesday post yesterday and left a comment. We all have a light within us that shines brightly. Some of us are afraid of it and some of us let it shine. Don't be afraid of that light within you and let it shine. My advice to you would be to look at the reply you just made and notice all the "Im not good enough" statements you made and replace them with "I'm plenty good enough". Okay.. I will be quiet now, the psychologist in me is coming out and I'm trying to reinvent myself lol!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, thanks for the pep talk.

      Delete
  6. What size did you use for the book? I've been playing around with the two smaller sizes and have had problems getting it to look like I want it to. Of course, I probably need to spend more time with the tutorials, etc. That unfortunately runs in the family. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen, I used their "Standard Landscape 10 x 8 in" template for my book. While I didn't use much of the advice, I think I watched all of their layout video tutorials. What kind of problem are you running into, maybe I can help? Really the only two design tutorials you need are the "Getting Started with Blurb BookSmart," and the "How to Layout and Design Your Next Book Like a Pro" videos. The first introduces you to all the options, the second one gives you an idea of how to layout the book so it looks like a professional book, rather than just a scrap book. Feel free to Email me if you need.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. Most of my problems have been with the text, as I'm trying to put together a book of my blog posts. Have viewed part of the first video. Will finish that when I get time and view the second one, probably after the holidays. I may take you up on your kind offer at that point.

      Delete
  7. What a beautiful product and your images as well. I love the front cove and the jail one. Glad you enjoyed the process and I'm sure you'll do another in a few more years with fresh material.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Patrick, thanks for the kind words. After I finished this book I thought to myself "only 7 more years and I'll have another 50 pictures I think are work printing. That's almost like a whole book right there." Ha!

      Delete
  8. I love this, and I've never heard of Blurb. Wonderful ideas... my brain is going crazy thinking of how I can put a book together right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anna, it gets worse when you actually download BookSmart (it's free to use) and see the template options they have provided. Then your mind really starts spinning with possibilities. There's a cook book template that I think could be modified some and turned into a book about container gardening. In any of the book formats you can print two page wide images, and I was thinking a book of garden panoramas would be really cool too.

      Delete
  9. The book is beautiful, I'm sure from the sample pages that you show. Thanks so much for giving such indepth info on Blurb. I've heard of Blurb before but was very vague about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stiletto,

      Glad the post was information and thanks for the feedback.

      Delete
  10. What a great idea MBT! Your book is beautiful. I appreciate all the tips, and might look into doing something like this soon. I'll definitely refer back to your post if/when I do it.

    My stepdaughters did a book for their dad for Christmas a couple of years ago. I helped by picking out the photos on the sly when he wasn't home since they wanted it to be a surprise. Especially since their mom died when they were babies and he raised them on his own, the book was incredibly poignant and beautiful. It was an ode to him and his strength and courage in the face of such tragedy, the happy childhood he gifted them with, and was a labor of love and gratefulness. It's probably the best gift, besides the girls themselves, that he has ever received.

    It's so cool that anyone can do this now, and I echo your thought that making a book like this is a fantastic gift, either to oneself, or to someone we care about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Garden Girl,

      I thought I knew what my next Blurb book would be, but your comment has me leaning towards making one of family members.

      Delete
  11. It looks beautiful. It is amazing that a person can customize a book like this. I love doing photo books of our vacations on line. So cool to have it in your hands when it arrives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gardener on Sherlock,

      Since I'd never printed my own photos before I didn't know what to expect. But I noticed there is a funny little feeling you get when you open up the book and see your own pics in there. It's odd how your perception of a photo changes when you see it bound with others.

      Delete
  12. Its just plaingorgeous. I particularly love the cover. Have used the "old" kodak system several times to commemorate a tr I p, but it did not have a cover option like that. Great job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Webb, When I first got a digital camera years ago it was a Kodak and I always told myself I would make family picture books, calendars and mugs, but I never did. If I remember correctly, they made it really easy too. Thanks for the feedback.

      Delete
  13. Thanks so much for this post, it's such a cool idea! I really hate reading tutorials, is it easy enough to navigate without them?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Garden Broad,

      Yeah, it's pretty easy to navigate without them. And like I said, there is the "auto fill" option where the program fills in the pages with pictures for you. The ones you don't like you can delete and choose a different page format instead.

      Delete
  14. Love it, great job, I love it. I really should get a book printed out, yours is FANTASTIC! Can you believe I've never printed a single photo of mine outside of my yearly calendar?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ChiotsRun,

      I'm actually really surprised to hear that. Considering how good your photos are, I would have figured you printed pictures all the time. But yeah, switching to digital kinda put an end to the practice of printing photos for many. I'm going to try to print photos regularly because they're just sitting on the computer, doing nothing.

      Delete
  15. Thanks for sharing this. I've never used Blurb, but have made many, many photo books (mostly for family) through iPhoto, just using JPEGs and very simple iPhoto image enhancement. I've found that digital printing does tend to come out a little dark. With iPhoto, I'm always lightening the mid-tones to avoid those black holes. Your book and photos are beautiful, and I enjoyed hearing your voice in the video.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Helen,

      When converting some of the photos, the mid tones of the pics looked a little too light. I think my monitor's calibration is way off and I got a little heavy with darkening the mid tones. Thanks.

      Delete
  16. That's so cool! I might have to try and take decent pictures for a change and do something like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom, I think your pictures are plenty good enough!

      Delete
  17. Wow, you've inspired me! Love your book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi LR, Thanks for the feedback. Hope you get a chance to do a garden picture book of your own.

      Delete
  18. This is most interesting, amazing at what a professional looking product you can make. I'm really in need of a new camera that I won't have to rob a bank to buy. Not sure where to begin or what I even really need just to take good nature shots. Have you any suggestions on a make or model? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's been so long since I have bought a camera that I am way out of touch with it all. I noticed that my old, old, old, pocket camera took pictures that were way better than the newer DSLR. They had the added benefit of having more pixels per inch too. Look into one of the newer pocket cameras, but don't get seduced by the "megapixels." Choose one that has a high pixel per inch number. That's more important than megapixels when printing.In the video there's a picture of a 'Red Admiral' butterfly that I took with a pocket camera. Because it had more pixels per inch, it printed at a much bigger size and higher resolution that my DSLR. Look into the Sony Cybershot and the Cannons. Pick based on the pixels per inch, then edit it out by what the reviews say of the picture quality.

      Good luck.

      Delete

Hi!

Feel free to leave a comment. You can always use the search box for my blog or the search "Google For Gardeners" if you're looking for gardening information. If you're looking for seed saving information check out "Seed Snatcher"search engine.

Do not have a blog yourself? Comment using the "anonymous" feature. If you have a Twitter or FB account feel free to use the "Name URL" feature so other people can find you.


Thanks for visiting.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Like This Blog?

If you like this blog please subscribe via Email. No Spam, I promise, just the latest posts Emailed to you.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner