Winter morning walk

The chill of winter is here. It was a beautiful morning for a walk by the lake.

Book cover by Canva

This evening I read about Canva and Pablo on the WordPress daily post, both of them are free design tools that can be used to create all manner of graphics. Starting with Canva tutorial I learned the basics and decided that it was an application worth investigating further in order to design photo book covers for my collection of images taken overseas 4 years ago. And yes, I am very slow at producing photo books :-)

Canva is quite easy to use and comes with numerous templates, graphics and ideas, many of them available free. It is a drag and drop application and although it took me a couple of minutes to grasp how to adjust single images in a layout template, the speed at which I could design a cover made me think that I may never have to use Indesign again, at least not for something so simple as a photo book cover. If you haven’t already checked Canva out, you’ll realise how popular it must be as soon as you see some of the sample graphics, they’re the type that you see all over Pinterest on food photographs and motivational images.

Here’s how my first cover turned out, the design is for a book of photographs taken in Venice, Varenna and Vernazza, three beautiful destinations in Italy that are located on the water. This design probably won’t be the final one because I had the dimensions wrong but it took only 20 minutes (most of that was spent waiting for images to upload) and I’ve learned something new today which is always a good thing.

What do you think? Is Canva something you would bother with?

Venice, Varenna and Vernazza photobook cover artwork
Photo book cover created using Canva

How many followers?

When I first started this blog, I thought I’d be lucky to have 100 followers especially when I don’t really stick to one particular topic or theme. Two Black Dogs is not a dog blog or a travel blog or a photography blog, it is a place for me to share what inspires me, makes me happy and occasionally, what troubles me.

Imagine how thrilled I was when the number of followers reached 709, ecstatic and amazed that so many people feel that my blog is worth following even if they only look at my posts a couple of times a year. However, I’m a bit confused because when I look at the ‘follows’ under the notifications tab says that I have 604 followers, not that I’m complaining because having 604 followers has also exceeded the expectations I had when setting up my blog. So, which is it? Has anyone else noticed this or have I misread something?

Keeping dry indoors
Followers? Who cares, just let me sleep :-)

My latest artwork

A while back I shared some photos I took of a sweet little Tawny Frogmouth that paid us a visit. Like the subjects of several other photos I have taken, the Tawny Frogmouth now features in my latest pastel illustration. 

Happy Sunday!


Planning our next holiday

Looking out the window

2011 was our first overseas holiday together, destination Europe. Prior to 2011 Hubby had never been overseas, his passport was free of stamps, shiny and new. I had been to Europe once in the summer of ’99 and dreamed of returning in the springtime but never thought that it would take 12 years to get there. That trip took us away from home for 8 weeks and involved months of planning and years of reading and dreaming about the places we would visit. You may have seen some of my photos and read some of my posts.

This time we hope to be travelling for 5 weeks at the end of this year, I say hope because it all hangs on both of us being in full time employment especially when we are the proud owners of a mortgage. If things don’t work out then we’ll travel somewhere closer to home, Australia is vast and there is plenty to see and experience. Travelling later in the year will mean lower temperatures compared to what we are used to requiring a drastic change to our usual attire for that time of year.

For me, part of the fun in travelling is the researching and the planning, I’m not a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ traveller. The flight from Brisbane to Paris takes about 27 hours and costs about $2000 per person for the flight so some preparation is important. Guide books and travel related books are among my favourite things to read, watching movies and documentaries featuring destinations I love and dream of take pride of place in our entertainment unit. Several years ago Rick Steves entered our lives, his DVDs have been watched many times and through his podcasts and others such as the Amateur Traveller I’ve discovered more authors whose books inspire me. Blogs and apps have made researching destinations so much easier however the sheer volume of content and contrasting opinions can be overwhelming. I love art, history, food and photography, Hubby loves to sit and watch the world go by which means we have to find a balance that makes us both happy.

IMG_9659 Travel books

Accommodation costs can be estimated using websites such as and tripadvisor although sometimes it is cheaper to book directly with a hotel or B&B and their rates are also easily found online. With the Australian dollar flagging against other currencies, I like to be able to calculate how much the trip could cost us by using a spreadsheet that outlines transport and accommodation costs as well as notes on extras like the Paris Museum Pass and gallery opening hours.

You might be wondering where we are planning to go that will need so much preparation. This is our list so far, it has already changed several times but there is still a focus on Italy:

  • Brussels
  • Paris
  • Turin
  • Florence
  • Rome
  • Bologna
  • Verona
  • Venice
  • Innsbruck
  • Vienna

Our timing is influenced by our desire to save as much as possible, Hubby’s work commitments and thinking that if we’re going to be freezing cold we may as well push the trip back a week further and warm up with mulled wine at the Christmas markets in Austria. I welcome any feedback and recommendations for the destinations listed.

Stay tuned :-)

Something new to play with

For a while I have wanted to get a new lens, to be more specific I wanted the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens loved by Nikon photographers (amateur and professional) and perfect for low light photography. After many months of saving my dream was obtained and I picked up the lens a couple of days ago. We’ve had some spectacular sunsets here of late, but sadly they’ve been pretty ordinary since getting the lens so I’ve been testing it out in the backyard and at a nearby lake. Technically I cannot tell you much, what I can tell you is that I love that I can take photographs in low light without having to ramp up the ISO to a ridiculous number or drag out the tripod. Wish it had image stabilisation, my hands can be a little shaky at times however that could be minimised by drinking less coffee :-)

These few shots aren’t fantastic and the one of the pelicans could be sharper, it was taken from across a body of water so I had to crop the image dramatically to see them properly. Getting closer is going to be essential with this lens, especially when comparing it to the 28-300mm lens I’ve been using.

Bundy let loose at the beach

Normally I don’t like letting Bundy off his leash in public areas, there are a number of reasons for this but primarily I don’t want him accused of being aggressive because he is a staffy. Bundy is great with other dogs and generally ignores the noisy, over-excited ones when we go for a walk, however he does not like them trying to get amorous with him and he will tell them where to go in a not-so-polite fashion. Knowing this makes me a little anxious. My husband is completely the opposite so when we took Bundy to a dog friendly part of the beach recently he spent the majority of the time off lead, zig-zagging across the sand and running up to greet any person who walked by. There were only a few dogs around and for the most part Bundy ignored them, he is much more focused on being with us now that he is older and less inclined (thank goodness) to take off and disappear into the dunes. There was one large dog that he took a liking to, they played around on the top of a sand dune before zooming down the dune towards the water, I am shooting more in manual mode now and was too slow to capture their fun on my camera but I did get one shot, albeit incredibly contrasty (technical term ;-) ).