This book is a delight, a book that you feel fortunate to have in your hands.
And it's really more than one book - it's five books in one cover, this is how I read it.
Book 1: It's a picture book.
You can't just open it and start reading; it's just not that easy. Why? Because starting with the very first page you are greeted with Lou Jones images. Lou's pictures are more than what you first see, more than the initial point of focus. As your eyes start to move it is grabbed by another point of interest, and then another. And then you realize that what you were looking at was not a picture about one thing; it was a story about many things.
After you absorb all of the pictures on page one, curiosity has you turn the page to see if there are more to follow. Each time you turn page, you are rewarded with up to four images. And before you know it, you've reached the last page, grateful for the almost 200 pages that make up this book, and a little disappointed that you have reached the end.
Book 2: It's an instruction manual.
There are roughly 150 images in this book, some taken for his commercial clients, others taken over several Olympics, and still more taken during Lou's travels all over the globe. Along with each image you also get the how and why the images were taken, information that would interest anyone with even the slightest curiosity of photography and the photographic process.
1. Where the image was taken
2. Why Lou thought it was an image was worth capturing
3. What the conditions were (weather, lighting, etc.)
4. How the conditions were overcome (lens choice, shutter speed, tripod, etc.)
5. How the time of the day impacted the image
It's similar to watching the Food Channel; they start by showing you the most delicious food, and then give the list of ingredients followed by step by step instructions so you too can make this marvelous dish.
This is what Lou Jones does for us in this book, he shows you the possibilities, and then arms you with the knowledge to be able to evaluate a given situation and select the tools to make it work.
Book 3: It's a helping of wisdom sprinkled with a little humor.
Throughout the book you will find quotes from photographers, the Bible, and great "thinkers" that make you pause a moment to digest the words.
Here are a few of my favorite:
"If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough" - Robert Capa
"Imagination is more important that knowledge" - Albert Einstein
"Light is an active, aggressive force" - Jay Maisel
"Photography in direct sunlight is like drinking from a fire hose" - John Sachs
"Clothes make the man, naked people have little or no influence in society" - Mark Twain
Book 4: Pearls (AKA "Yellow Boxes").
In each chapter you will find one or more "yellow boxes", highlighted areas that contain a paragraph or two, pearls of wisdom related to the chapter topic. I took it as Lou saying, "If you take only one thing from this chapter be sure this is it".
Chapter one is on equipment and the yellow box talks about the importance of a good watch, keeping track of your time zones, and the cultural impact of timeliness.
Chapter seven is about international travel and the need to do your research before you leave, that a simple thing like color can be truly important. Did you know that green is considered bad luck in England, good luck in Ireland, and absolutely sacred in Islam?
Chapter ten focuses on health. You learn why you should have your own health kit when you travel and that it should include syringes. Things that a novice traveler would give no thought to, but when you hear from an experienced traveler of what to do and why, it goes from no thought to a "no-brainer"
Book 5: The meat and potatoes.
Once you finish reading the first four "books", it's time to dig into most in-depth and detailed part of the book, the chapter content.
The first few chapters are dedicated strictly to photography. Chapters on cameras, lenses, tripods and filters. There is an entire chapter on the subject of film vs. digital and how airport security and the effect of x-rays on film is "another compelling reason to switch to digital".
The chapter on lighting that will give you an outstanding explanation of a histogram, exposure, how to use available light and the properties of light.
Then Lou moves into the important things you should, no MUST, know and do before you travel, as well as what to do and how to act when you are a guest in another country.
The subjects are covered so well and in such detail that anyone who is considering traveling internationally should seriously consider getting this book.
Lou explains the how's and why's of researching prior to leaving on your trip, covering important things to do (and not to do) with your passport, insurance and terrorism.
What about jet lag, water, food, sunburn altitude sickness and bug bites? It's covered. So is getting there and back - customs, airports, planes, trains, and automobiles.
Lou will also explain that clothing to bring and why for all weather conditions, hot, cold, and wet.
If you haven't picked up on it yet, this is one of my favorite books, the kind of book that when I lend it out I make a note of who took it, so I will be sure to get it back.