Sunday, February 26, 2006

Vanishing Act by Art Wolfe

Bonnie brought home another cool book, Vanishing Act by Art Wolfe, who has a great name for a wildlife photographer. This recent collection of his photographs is many books in one:

1. Coffee table book - With its beautiful photographs, this oversize book would look good on any coffee table.

2. Puzzle book or amusement - Wolfe has intentionally made it a challenge to find the animal in each of the photographs. Children and adults can view it together, seeing who can find the hidden mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish first. Can you find the animals? Can you even find the captions or page numbers?

3. Practice book for animal spotting - The skills you learn finding animals in these photographs might help you on camera safari.

4. Introduction to animal behavior - The comments about the photographs in the back of the book tell much about the animals.

5. Model book for painters - The trees, leaves, bark, grasses, lichens, rocks, and shadows are as much the subjects of these photographs as the animals. How the subjects are positioned and the mix of colors will be very interesting to nature artists.

6. Lesson in photography - Amateur and professional photographers who study these photographs may learn how to break composition rules effectively. Wolfe also adds notes on the camera, lens, shutter speed, and film used in each shot.

My favorite photographs in Vanishing Act include the following:

1. Puff adder on page 16 - I nearly missed seeing the snake among the fallen leaves, blossoms, and mossy bits. Watch where you step!

2. Arctic fox on page 30 - Look behind the biggest rock.

3. Leopard on page 45 - Many people on camera safari never see a leopard. Now you know why.

4. Golden plover on page 59 - The bird is easy to miss in the golden landscape.

5. Giraffe on page 81 - How can an animal as big as a giraffe hide so well?

6. Red fox on page 112 - It is autumn in Minnesota.

7. Cheetah on page 122 - The cheetah is one of my favorite animals anyway.

8. Eurasian eagle owl with rufous treepie on page 123 - Who would expect these birds so close together? Maybe they are not really that close.

If I were independently wealthy, not living on a librarian's salary, I would buy copies of this book for all my friends. As it is, they will have to check it out at their libraries.

Wolfe, Art. Vanishing Act. Text by Barbara Sleeper. New York: Bulfinch Press, 2005. ISBN 0821257501

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