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2009 Holiday Book Guide

The annual OP selection of photography books for outdoor enthusiasts
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Refresh your coffee-table book collection this holiday season with some of the latest photography titles to hit bookstores. For travel and wildlife photographers, this is a particularly full year, with plenty of large-format pictorials showing places as far-flung as the Galápagos Islands and East Africa’s Serengeti, and as nearby as Yellowstone National Park and the Sierra Nevada mountains. A topic that’s always of interest is environmental conservation and the urgency to document some corners of the globe before they change permanently. What follows is a roundup of books to which we gave a second look this year.

A Shadow Falls by Nick Brandt (Abrams, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-8109-5415-1). Look at East Africa in a way perhaps not seen before. In 58 tritone, large-format images, Brandt captures panoramas of animals and landscapes that look mythical. He photographs wildlife the way he would people by forming an intimate connection with his subject matter. These unique portraits of lions, cheetahs, gorillas and elephants are gripping.

The Abundance of Summer: The Seasons of Yellowstone by Tom Murphy (Crystal Creek Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-966-86198-3). This is the fourth and final installment of Murphy’s remarkable series of photographic essays that follow the turning of the seasons in Yellowstone National Park. Having lived next to the park for more than 30 years, Murphy has done some extensive traveling within its 3,400 square miles. In this volume, he captures the essence of summertime.

Adirondack Moments by James Kraus (Firefly Books, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-55407-466-2). One of the largest protected parks in the United States, Adirondack Park spreads out over six million acres; it was created in 1892 to protect upper New York State’s water and timber supply. The deep connection Kraus has to this landscape is evident through his compelling imagery, accompanied by personal introductions to each section.

Along the Water’s Edge by Timothy Wolcott (QuinnEssentials Books and Printing, Inc., 2009; ISBN: 978-0-9823590-0-6). Shooting with medium- and large-format camera systems, Wolcott captures beautiful fine-art landscapes of rivers, streams, waterfalls and oceans. The images were taken over more than 20 years and a quarter-million miles traveled. They’ve been exhibited worldwide in museums and fine-art galleries.

Animals on The Edge: Reporting from The Frontline of Extinction by Chris Weston and Art Wolfe (Thames & Hudson, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-500-54382-5). The renowned wildlife photographers offer a visual survey of rare and endangered mammals across six continents. Habitat destruction, illegal hunting and climate change are just a few of the threats these creatures face. Along with some 60 photographs are captions detailing each animal’s habits, habitat and conservation status.

Bear Portraits by Jill Greenberg (Little, Brown and Company, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-316-03188-2). Greenberg takes the shiny signature style of her celebrity portraits and applies it to bears in this funny and thoughtful book. From an angry-looking brown bear to a cuddly cub to a peaceful polar bear, each shot reveals some kind of emotion, a hallmark of Greenberg’s photography. Full-grown brown bears, grizzlies, black bears, polar bears and bear cubs were photographed on location against a portrait backdrop.

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Butterfly: A Photographic Portrait by Thomas Marent (DK Publishing, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-7566-3340-0). More than 500 photographs of butterflies and moths fill these pages, showing each stage of their life cycle with detailed, close-up views. Marent has spent nearly half of his life capturing butterflies across five continents. For this book, he shows them in a variety of habitats, from northern woodlands to tropical rainforests, and delivers a comprehensive portrait of some of the 165,000 species found around the world.

The Changing Range of Light: Portraits of the Sierra Nevada by Elizabeth Carmel (Hawks Peak Publishing, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-9776-8771-8). In her second book, Carmel explores the natural beauty of the High Sierra and the environmental challenges it faces because of climate change. Straightforward vignettes by top scientists accompany the photos, along with inspiring quotes and poetry by renowned authors.

Crisscrossing America: Discovering America from the Road by John Gussenhoven and Jim Wark (Rizzoli, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-8478-3323-8). There’s nothing quite as freeing as going on a road trip. Shortly after buying his first motorcycle in 2004, Gussenhoven hit the road, shooting only what he could see from the vantage point of his bike. He logged more than 8,500 miles. For a more complete view of the country, he enlisted help from Wark, an acclaimed aerial photographer. Some 9,000 images were taken between the two of them.

Endangered Liaisons by Don Shay (Alarus Press, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-615-21345-3). Tracing the route of the Great Migration through the Serengeti ecosystem of Tanzania, Shay delivers images of hunting cheetahs, African wild dog pups at play, elephants mating and impalas on alert for potential hunters. This is ultimately a memoir that chronicles his 20-year love affair with Africa. Over the years, Shay has spent more than nine months on safari, going deep into the wild with some of the world’s most captivating and endangered creatures.

Extraordinary Leaves by Stephen Green-Armytage and Dennis Schrader (Firefly Books, Ltd., 2008; ISBN: 978-1-55407-387-0). Leaves are one of nature’s more underappreciated gifts. The 225 color photographs displayed on these pages show them off in full glory with close-ups revealing their incredible diversity of shapes, colors and textures. Accompanying the photos is an insightfully written guide explaining the physical qualities, uses and science behind leaves.

Galápagos: Preserving Darwin’s Legacy by Tui De Roy (Firefly Books, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-55407-484-6). Bringing together highly respected experts, established scientists and a world-renowned photographer, the book offers a comprehensive look at the challenges and successes of conservation efforts in the Galápagos. With candid first-person essays and 600 photos, this is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the islands, which were studied by Charles Darwin and contributed to his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Glimpses of Madagascar: Lemurs and Landscapes, People and Places by Ronald A. Lake (The Other Lake Company, Inc.; 2008; ISBN: 978-0-615-21246-3). In 2007, Lake traveled to this island nation with the Wildlife Conservation Society. His photographs reveal the country’s rich landscape, people and culture. Madagascar is one of the world’s poorest nations, but it’s also one of the richest in terms of biodiversity. Exotic lemurs, ancient baobab trees and humpback whales all can be found there.

India Exposed: The Subcontinent A-Z by Clive Limpkin (Abbeville Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-7892-0994-8). With sections on camels, festivals, rice barges and weddings, Limpkin truly covers the ABCs of India. Often referred to as one of the most visually rich places in the world for photographers, the sub-continent comes alive in more than 200 vibrant photographs that capture overcrowded cities, exotic wildlife and more. Limpkin’s commentary is revealing and, at times, humorous.

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Living Landscapes: Creative Visions of the Wild by Andy Rouse (Aurum Press, 2009: ISBN: 978-1-902538-56-3). Beginning with an in-depth interview that delves into Rouse’s views on photography and how he sees it evolving, the book contains several themed portfolios of the work he shot immediately before this publication. A section called “Habitat” shows the relationships of animals and their surroundings. In “Patterns,” he reproduces images like that of an iguana’s eye or an elephant’s ears to look so abstract they require a second look. This unique book combines Rouse’s artistic eye with the beauty of the natural landscape.

National Geographic Image Collection by Leah Bendavid-Val, Michelle Anne Delaney and Maura Mulvihill (Focal Point, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-4262-0503-3). Partnering with Kodak, National Geographic presents a 500-page volume exploring the depths of its 11.5-million image archive. Covering 12 decades of world events, the book overflows with iconic imagery, from pictures of mountaineering in the Alps in the 1890s and Hiram Bingham’s images of Machu Picchu to those of Alexander Graham Bell and Albert Einstein and the first aerial, flash, night, digital, underwater and space photos.

The National Parks: Our American Landscape by Ian Shive (Earth Aware Editions, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-60109-045-4.) Shive crisscrosses the country capturing a diverse mix of images that range from the forests of Acadia National Park, Maine, and the swamps of Everglades National Park, Fla., to the wild, rugged landscape of Denali National Park, Alaska, and the clear waters of the marine sanctuary at Channel Islands National Park, California. In 2016, the U.S. National Park Service, which oversees the country’s 391 parks, will celebrate its centennial.

One Hundred Butterflies by Harold Feinstein (Little, Brown and Company, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-316-03363-3). Showcasing a wide range of butterfly species, this pictorial emphasizes the many colors and patterns that adorn the wings of these hard-to-photograph insects. In 100 oversized photographs, Feinstein gives readers a close-up view of the blue morpho of Central America, the African birdwing, the Asian swallowtail and more. Literary quotations throughout the book complement the images.

Over The Coasts: An Aerial View of Geology by Michael Collier (Mikaya Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-931414-42-5). Collier pilots his single-engine Cessna around the edges of thousands of miles of coastal landscapes to capture aerial views of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and Alaska. Collier examines how these areas have been formed and reformed geologically over thousands of years. He also discusses how human activity, such as building too close to the shore, affects coastlines.

Photographing The West by David R. Stoecklein (Stoecklein Publishing, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-933192-64-2). This collection of 200 photos celebrates the American West, an area Stoecklein knows intimately. He has traveled in all of the Western states, visiting ranches and documenting the landscape. Among the images are anecdotes about his travels along with behind-the-scenes tips and information on his favorite photos.

The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photography by The Mountain Trail Photo Team (Mountain Trail Press, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-97791-718-9). Learn from the pros in this compilation of tips and advice by some of today’s most talented nature photographers. The book offers a step-by-step approach to improving artistic vision and technical skills. Topics covered include choosing equipment, using digital functions, tips for capturing natural light, rules of composition and special effects.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 18 by Rosamund Kidman Cox (BBC Books, 2008; ISBN: 978-1-84607-581-0). The world-famous BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition draws the best in nature photography every year. An international panel of expert judges selects the top images from more than 35,000 entries. Collected in this volume are more than 120 pictures taken from last year. Subjects and styles range from abstract nature images to portraits of animal behavior and the environment.

Windmills of the West by David R. Stoecklein and Jack Goddard (Stoecklein Publishing, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-935269-00-7). Windmills have a long heritage throughout the American West and old Mexico. In his pursuit of photographing all things Western, Stoecklein has created a tribute to these iconic structures. His images are accompanied by Goddard’s text, which traces the windmill’s history, along with humorous anecdotes and quotations.