Monday, February 19, 2007

Elephant by Steve Bloom

When I first saw the cover on Elephant by Steve Bloom, with all the birds flying around the lead elephant in a group (look around the back), I knew I would dive in. Having twice gone on camera safari in Tanzania and Kenya, where we had close encounters with elephants, I am always ready to relive our experiences. Bloom's great photographs deliver what I need to go back. I am awash in memories.

Bloom either has big zoom lenses or gets very close to the elephants. You can see the bristles on the elephants' hides. He captures motion, too. Dust flies, mud splatters, and water splashes. There seems to be a shock wave coming from the elephant on page 116. He also captures the spiritual mystique of elephants. On pages 176-177 an elephant stands in a shaft of sunlight in a dense woods.

Bloom spent much of his time at Chobe in Botswana, but he also visited other African countries. The latter part of the book focuses on Asian elephants. He includes a series of cool underwater photographs of a Thai elephany named Rajan and another series of elephants brightly painted for the Jaipur Elephant Festival.

You can see some of Bloom's elephant photos at his website.

There is no animal more impressive than the elephant. Seeing herds of elephants is awesome, as they move with agility and grace, young and old, with purpose and resolve. The next best thing to being in Africa or on the Indian subcontinent to see the elephants is looking through a book like Elephant. Libraries should get this book.

Bloom, Steve. Elephant. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN 0811857271

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