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Take the perfect photo, and simplify the journey to get it

Email|Print| Text size + By Necee Regis
Globe Correspondent / October 1, 2006

You see them everywhere: tourists holding cameras and snapping photos of anything in their path. You may travel with a camera yourself. It sometimes seems that photography has become a filter for living; you don't have to experience the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, you can take a picture and look at it later. But how many pictures really capture the essence and experience of a place?

There's more to a good photograph than just pointing and shooting. If you're happy with your snapshots, fine. But if you love to travel, and you want your pictures to shine (and you don't want to go to art school), where can you turn for help?

Enter Lou Jones. The Boston-based photographer has traveled to Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and throughout the United States. He's a firm believer that a camera can be more than something that stands between you and experience -- it's a tool that can enhance your journeys and provide you with a lasting record to share with others.

``Stories are ephemeral," Jones says. ``Memories fade. Photographs do not. Photographers bring back permanent proof of things never before seen. Images help the uninitiated experience unusual places."

In his new book, ``Travel + Photography ," Jones offers snippets of his travel experiences in the context of how to take a great travel photo. But the book is more than just remarkable photos and entertaining tales. In clearly defined chapters, Jones lays out the tools for those interested in cameras, equipment, and how to best use them to accomplish your goals, so that the photo you get is the one you see in your mind.

``In travel photography, the world is yours for the taking. Anything you can think of, any place you can get to can be photographed. . . . Traveling is one of the most educational, enriching experiences you can undertake -- second only to taking pictures, of course. And the camera is the perfect tool for taking notes."

It's hard not to be swept into Jones's exuberance for his subject. Beginners and more advanced photographers alike can glean insight into the mystery of what seems simple but takes skill: a great photo.

The book starts with the basics. Jones discusses the differences among single-lens reflex, range finders, and medium format cameras. Once you choose your camera, you can consider what lens suits what purpose, be it wide-angle, single-lens, telephoto, or zoom. To understand filters you have to understand how light works and what it does in each camera, and Jones explains how polarizing, color-compensating, and diffusion filters are used to shape an image.

And what about digital cameras? Jones ticks through the pros and cons of film versus pixels, and how each works in terms of color temperature, latitude (range of brightness), and grain.

Other chapters address more artistic concerns such as how to compose an image, how to choose what to photograph, how to wait for the light to be just right, and how to simplify your composition.

What distinguishes this book from other how-to exercises is that Jones adds chapters on how best to navigate in other countries and cultures, offering practical tips on language, transportation, health, and money. It's a practical travel guide combined with a photography class.

Toward the end of the book a chapter on transportation examines airport security, customs, how to rent a car, whether you need an international driving permit in other countries, and how hiring a guide can be useful.

The book's layout mixes short narratives and quotes with beautiful photographs linked with informative text. It's pleasing to the eye as well as the mind. It will work well on the coffee table and, even better, will fit in your travel bag.

Contact Necee Regis, a freelance writer in Boston and Miami, at neceeregis@yahoo.com.

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