E-Book Review: How to Take Great Travel Photos – Brendan van Son

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this e-book in return for a review. My opinions are my own, however, and are unbiased by the author. I’m also an affiliate, which means that if you click on the link at the bottom of this post or elsewhere on this blog AND purchase the e-book, I will receive a percentage of its quoted price. 

Let me start off by saying that I have a bachelors degree in publishing and am a trained copy-editor. This means that I tend to notice syntax and typo errors a lot more than your average reader. Unfortunately, there are quite a few of these in the e-book and it could have benefitted by having a professional look at it in a little more detail. That said, if you’re not as pedantic as me, you probably won’t be bothered by it too much. After all, it’s content that matters most, isn’t it?

As the title suggests, the premise of this e-book is to teach budding photographers how to take great travel photos using their point-and-shoot cameras. Van Son is a well-known travel blogger and editor of Kumuka Worldwide’s travel blog, and his passion for travel and travel photography shines through clearly in this e-book. All the photos were taken with a point-and-shoot camera and Van Son gives easy-to-follow hints and tips on how to improve your own photography by sharing years of his own experience with the medium.

The e-book is 66 pages long and is divided into six well-defined sections:

  • Choosing a camera
  • Getting to know your camera
  • Shooting higher quality images
  • Shoot… like a pro
  • Post-production
  • Conclusion

In “Choosing a camera”, the author briefly discusses selecting the brand you should look at when purchasing a point-and-shoot camera. More importantly, he goes into quite a bit of detail to explain megapixels and their significance for the type of photography you are interested in. If you only have a very vague idea of what a megapixel is and aren’t quite sure why you might need ten of them, then this chapter is for you.

Many people neglect to read the manual after purchasing a new camera. In “Getting to know your camera”, the importance of understanding what your camera can do is highlighted. Auto mode is compared with program modes in this section. I found the explanation of the technical differences between the various modes very interesting. I now know why my indoor cathedral shots are usually blurry and I also know what to do about it.

“Shooting higher quality images” is, of course, something every photographer strives for. In this chapter, the use of tripods, monopods and their alternatives are discussed, as well as ideas for preventing click blur, ensuring correct focus and knowing what time of day the light will be at its best for the subject you want to capture. Do you have loads of pictures of buildings fading into brilliantly white sky? I certainly do. After reading this chapter, I now have a good idea how to prevent taking such pictures or, if all else fails, how to correct them.

In “Shoot… like a pro” an overview of all the tips from the previous chapters are applied to the specific types of photos you might want to take. What makes your shot of a well-known monument more memorable than someone else’s? How does one take beautiful landscape pictures or night-time cityscapes? How does using blurring techniques lend focus to an image? Can one take good pictures of wildlife with a point-and-shoot camera? What are the ethics of photographing people and how can I capture true emotion? These questions and more are explored in this chapter.

Since I’ve recently started fiddling around in Adobe PhotoShop to enhance some of my pictures, I found the chapter on “Post-production” especially interesting. The mysteries of contrast, saturation, purposefully blurring parts of the photo, removing unwanted objects, straightening buildings and adding a sky are explained in such a way that even a complete beginner such as myself now understands the basics.

Although I haven’t discussed the introductory chapter of this e-book, the conclusion certainly warrants a mention, merely for the fact that the author provides links to websites where you can upload your photos with the intent of selling them, as well as links to other recommended reading on the web. Should you wish to contact the author, links to his site, his work and his social media profile are also provided.

How to Take Great Travel Photos with a Point-and-Shoot Camera is well worth reading, not only for those just starting out in photography, but also for those who would like to know how to improve their skills. I definitely wish I had read it before going on my most recent trip. The writing is passionate and the explanations are easy-to-follow, with very little jargon to confuse the uninitiated. Even if you are an accomplished photographer and know most of the more obvious tricks of the trade, I will still recommend this e-book for the beautiful pictures and refresher content it contains.

If you would like to purchase this e-book, click here.

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