Winged Reviews A UK young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

On Instagram: Light

On Instagram: Light


Thank you for all the amazing feedback on my first On Instagram post that focused on my backgrounds! Today, I wanted to talk a bit about how to find or create the right light for your photos.


Light is the most important thing for beautiful photography. I live in a generally dark house, so I take my photos in the morning light. Before noon is usually good, but during the summer I can take them a bit later as the sun is up for longer. I generally just throw open the windows and let the light through!


I use a basic D-SLR camera, a Canon EOS 100D, with the standard 18-55mm lens that came with it. I’m becoming fond of using the manual setting so I can adjust as I please depending on the amount of light coming in, and the colour and positioning of the book(s).

The light where I take pictures generally comes from behind me and not directly on the object. Therefore, I program my settings to let the most amount of light into the photo and for a slightly ‘cooler’ tone. Generally, they are:

ISO: 6400-12800
Aperture: f/4.5 to f/7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/100 – 1/250
White Balance: approx. 5200k (Daylight)

I tend to keep ISO and White Balance relatively static, and play a lot with Aperture and Shutter Speed. Usually, the lower the number, the more light is let in and the photograph is brighter. However, I have to balance these settings. If I have both the Apterture and Shutter Speed at a ‘low’ setting, the result is the photo will be over exposed (basically a white or very blurry, light photo). I try to achieve a good balance in order to bring out the colours of the book(s), while ensuring that my background remains as white as possible.

However, no setting can replicate the tone that can be achieved in the daylight. You can see the range in the two photos below. The first one was taken in the morning daylight and the second in slightly duskier conditions. The only thing I changed was Shutter Speed to let more light in and the photos are unedited. As you can see, the one in the morning light has a slightly brighter, cooler quality, and the second in the dusk has almost a reddish tone.



Even though you can get a picture equally bright and clear, I prefer the cooler tone of the first photo, which is why I prefer to take my photos in the morning.

I think some people use reflectors to ‘bounce’ the light off the objects instead of having the light fall directly on them. Sometimes when the book has foil or shiny text, direct light sometimes means those words are tough to read. However, I haven’t experimented with this and generally I can get away with it by angling the books slightly.

So that’s how I try to get my bright, cool toned photographs! I’d love to know how you use light in your photos. Where do you take your pictures? What time of day do you normally take them? Do you use a D-SLR or an iPhone? I love my iPhone camera, but now that I’ve gone to the dark side, I don’t think I can go back!

I’m really enjoying writing this series and I’ve got at least two more planned. Let me know if there are any additional topics you would like me to cover in the comments below. If you’re enjoying this and my pictures, do follow me on Instagram @ Winged Reviews!

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Bookish Firsts: Victoria Aveyard

Bookish Firsts: Victoria Aveyard

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I’m so pleased to welcome Victoria Aveyard to the blog today, debut author to celebrate the UK paperback release of the bestselling book, Red Queen! This book has been on my TBR pile ever since that gorgeous cover was revealed so I’m happy that they have used the same approach for the paperback! That crown and blood is just so striking.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Bookish Firsts

With author Victoria Aveyard

ellaenchantedWhat is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
Besides, you know, Dr. Seuss. I remember reading the children version of White Fang, and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. The latter really hit for me, and hooked me on reading, not to mention genre fiction.

What is the first book your wrote (can be published or unpublished)?
RED QUEEN is both the first book I ever finished writing and the first book I published.

What is the first book you would save if your house was burning?
I have this beautiful copy of The Lord of the Rings illustrated by Alan Lee. When I was thirteen I saved up all my birthday money to buy it, and still have it on my shelf. And if I managed to save two books, I would save my signed copy of A Dance of Dragons by George RR Martin. I spent my 21st birthday waiting in line to get that one signed.

About Red Queen

A world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace.

Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart . . .

About Victoria Aveyard

Stephanie Girard PhotographyVictoria Aveyard was born and raised in small town Massachusetts before moving to Los Angeles for college. She earned a BFA in screenwriting from the University of Southern California, and splits her time between the East and Hollywood. She is an author and screenwriter, hard at work on her next books and screenplays.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish to show off our book-related lists!

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but it’s always been my tradition to mark my top ten books of the year so far! This time it has been relatively easy picking my top list. I read lots of enjoyable 4 stars, but not many 5 stars. Without further ado, here is my list!

Top Ten Books

I’ve Read So Far in 2015


What was your favourite book this year so far? Let me know in the comments below!

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Bookish Firsts: Amy Alward

Bookish Firsts: Amy Alward

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I’m very happy to have Amy Alward on the blog today. I really enjoyed her debut duology as Amy McCulloch and I’m really looking forward to this new series about alchemy and love potions in the real world! She’s also a super talented editor so her talent knows now bounds. Today, we have an exclusive excerpt from The Potion Diaries and Amy talking about her bookish firsts!

The Potion Diaries by Amy Alward


Bookish Firsts

With author Amy Alward

99stepsWhat is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
The first full book I remember reading on my own was a Nancy Drew mysteries novel called The Mystery of the 99 Steps. I was a reluctant early reader, but my parents used to persist in getting me to like books by reading stories with big cliffhangers at the end of each chapter. I eventually realized that the story didn’t have to end when my parents stopped reading – I could just pick up the book and finish it myself! Once I learned that, there was no stopping me…

What is the first book your wrote (can be published or unpublished)?
The first book I wrote (and finished) was a time travel novel called The Rose and the Thorn, where two characters (a boy and a girl) are thrown back in time after they touch the pages of a mysterious book. The girl wakes up in a highborn Tudor household and loves her new life, whereas the boy wakes as a pauper living on the disgusting streets of sixteenth century London. They have a chance meeting in the stables of the wealthy household and discover that they can return to their own time – but only if they do it together.

godinruinsI don’t even know if a copy of the book exists any more! But it felt like a huge accomplishment to finish it. I was 15 and I had an unhealthy obsession with Tudor England – and was definitely inspired by all the Shakespeare we were studying at the time.

I wrote one more novel before writing what would become my debut book, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow – so I had a lot of practice!

What is the first book you will pack on your upcoming holiday?

The first book I’ll pack on my upcoming holiday is A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. I loved Life after Life, so I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this one. I don’t often get a chance to read the Big, Important adult literary novels since my head is way more likely to be found in a YA book! But on holiday I try and widen my range a bit and remind myself there are other kinds of books out there other than YA.

About The Potion Diaries

When the Princess of Nova accidentally poisons herself with a love potion meant for her crush, she falls crown-over-heels in love with her own reflection. Oops. A nationwide hunt is called to find the cure, with competitors travelling the world for the rarest ingredients, deep in magical forests and frozen tundras, facing death at every turn.

Enter Samantha Kemi – an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. Sam’s family were once the most respected alchemists in the kingdom, but they’ve fallen on hard times, and winning the hunt would save their reputation. But can Sam really compete with the dazzling powers of the ZoroAster megapharma company? Just how close is Sam willing to get to Zain Aster, her dashing former classmate and enemy, in the meantime?

And just to add to the pressure, this quest is ALL OVER social media. And the world news.

No big deal, then.

Click to read an exclusive excerpt from The Potion Diaries!

About Amy Alward

Amy Alward is a Canadian author living in Winchester, fitting her writing around her work as Editorial Director at a leading children’s publisher where she is also Zoella’s editor. In 2013, she was listed as one of The Bookseller’s Rising Stars. Her debut fantasy adventure novel, The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, was published in 2013 under the name Amy McCulloch and was longlisted for the Branford Boase Award for best UK debut children’s book in 2014.

She can be found on Twitter @amy_alward and Instagram as @amyalward.

Check out the rest of the blog tour this week!

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On Instagram: Background

On Instagram: Background


So I’ve been asked on Twitter and by fellow bloggers I meet in real life about how I take my Instagram photos. Where do I get all my white space? Do I live in a white box?

Encouraged by Steph and Jim, today I’m going to take you guys behind the scenes! Warning: this isn’t as exciting as I’m making it out to be. I’m by no means an expert, but I wanted to share my process if only to encourage more people to take lovely photos.

I’ve decided to make this a short series, so I’ll be talking about a different part of the process in different posts. Today, I wanted to talk about what I get questioned on the most, my background!


My early Instagram pictures were mostly taken on a variety of interesting surfaces. I had a wooden table and a cool fireplace, so I generally displayed books on that. I also had a variety of coloured sofas, rugs and carpet.

However, I was addicted to gorgeous food photos, and the ones I especially loved were taken on white surfaces. It really made the colours pop and I’m such a fan of the clean, crisp, highly saturated look. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a perfect white house with lovely white marble surfaces (if only).

Thankfully I do have a white wall, which solved half the problem. I just needed to find another white surface and as my floors are a dark wood. So, enter the footstool:


Then I covered it with a white sheet. Because the surface underneath is quite a strong colour, it’s been folded and then draped:



And taa dah – that’s how I get the white backgrounds for my Instagram photos! You can also use styrofoam boards, white card, or paint cardboard boxes white. It’s fun to experiment and to see what works best with your surroundings and your style of photography.

I’ve also recently been trying some other surfaces to have a bit of variety in my pictures (sometimes a plain white background can get boring). We have a shelf that we haven’t been able to put up, so I’ve been using it as a slim bookcase, which is perfect for displaying book hauls or fake shelfies.


Here is an example of one posted on Instagram:


We also have creamy carpets in the main bedroom, which is next to a window so I can get some good light on the photos.


It can also create some interesting shadows, which look dramatic and the like. Here is another one I posted on Instagram:


So that’s where I take my photos! I like a very clean minimalist style, however, I am super impressed by the talent of those that don’t use a plain surface like me. I love looking at book photos taken outdoors, on wooden decking, on bedsheets, on mirrored surfaces and so many more. Variety is the key to what makes the Bookstagram community so great!

Anyway, hope that has helped! If you’re active on Instagram, what do you take your photos on? I would love to know! I also want to know if you want to see this feature continue and what you would want covered next?

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