Amazing Photography is a new book by Clemens van Os and Ivan van der Veld seeking to inspire you with people’s stories and photographs. Even loftier, the description leads off by telling us that “photography can literally improve your life, if you know how to take full advantage of it.”

It is also peppered with DIY quick fixes for unexpected photography situations and a hypothetical photography game of “what if.” And it covers the science behind how your photos can affect your happiness and well-being.

Location, location, location

My focus for this write-up was on covering the locations. And certainly, as someone who photographs obscure abandoned areas and unusual topography, that’s near and dear to my heart. When I saw that the book covered “Top 15 under-the-radar spots in the world for stunning photo shots,” I was intrigued. As a bonus, many of the stories also went to fascinating locations. I’ll cover just a few of the highlights.

Amazing Photography: The top 8 under-the-radar-spots for stunning shots
Vinicunca, also known as the Rainbow Mountains, Peru, one of the Top 15 under-the-radar spots.

Volcanoes with a Milky Way in Guatemala

The book throws down just about right away. Page 10 begins with an exotic photo of a Milky Way which appears to emanate out of an erupting volcano. Photographer Albert Dros tells about previsualizing his photo and planning for it and having it all come together. 

Meditating on the enormous diversity of Iceland

Photographer Sietske Tol states that Iceland is her favorite destination. That may be mine as well. Aside from her beautiful photo of a beautifully frozen Skógafoss Waterfall, she mentions being so inspired that she filled her memory cards with geysers, waterfalls, whales, snorkeling between two continental fissures, descending into volcanoes and more.

But what really resonated with me is her saying “photography is like meditating.” Night photography in particular has calmed and centered me. In that way, I can relate to her saying, “My head is often full of thoughts buzzing in all directions, but when I take photographs everything is quiet. I am relaxed and at peace.”

Unpredictable photography in Heligoland Germany

“Owls are wild. They do what they want.” And with that, the book is filled with Northern Gannet birds on the island of Heligoland, Germany, where wildlife photographer Gustav Kiburg went to photograph them building nests. Whether here or with his stunning animal photographs in Norway, he says, “It’s the wild unpredictability of nature photography that gives me an extra rush. Nature shots don’t always work as I’ve imagined, but when they do, the feeling is extra intense.” 

Monks and more

The end of the world is right in front of you
Northern Lights, Finland. Photo by Laura Vinks.

Photographer Laura Vinks describes photographing the Northern Lights in -4°F (-20°C) Finland despite hating the cold. But she also describes photographing in Myanmar, or Burma, connecting with a monk who wanted to take a photograph of them … and in so doing, eventually photographing him.

I’ve been to Myanmar myself, and it is one of the most photogenic countries I’ve ever seen. Given that I’ve also been to Iceland and India, that’s really saying something.

Photographing from outer space

André Kuipers is a Dutch astronaut that photographs from outer space. If we’re discussing cool locations, need I say anything more? Desert, woodlands, rainforests, islands, seas, he has an amazing view of the world, especially at night. Read about what his favorite spot is to photograph from space.

Top 15 under-the-radar spots for stunning shots

The title certainly describes what this section is about. From all over the world, it describes photos of places that are reasonably accessible. 

Well, two are underwater. Interestingly, one of the underwater locations is actually only visible from above. 

Amazing Photography: The top 8 under-the-radar-spots for stunning shots
An underwater waterfall, Mauritius, one of two places in the Top 15 under-the-radar spots that are underwater. Photo by Olga Khoroshunova.

I’ve been to two of these locations and attempted to go to a third. That last one is a story for another time.

Amazing Photography: The top 8 under-the-radar-spots for stunning shots
Ronda, Spain, another one of the Top 15 under-the-radar spots for stunning shots, and one of my favorite towns I’ve visited. It’s an artistic community with beautiful architecture, colors and a dramatic setting.

They offer a bonus destination, actually two, these serving as a sort of “baker’s 15.” The first one is Mars. I like to dream big. And in several discussions or questionnaires I’ve filled out, I’ve put “Mars” as a dream destination. With its lighter gravitational pull, maybe, just maybe, I might be able to climb up the 17-mile (27km) tall Olympus Mons and take some night landscape photos. I say yes.

With photographs from 47 different places, this book certainly gets around. But I think more than that, it does do what it seeks to do: inspire.

Get your own copy of “Amazing Photography” here!