Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wild Africa by Alex Bernasconi

Wild Africa by photographer Alex Bernasconi is a stunningly beautiful book. The jacket describes Bernasconi as a seasoned landscape and wildlife photographer with a shelf full of nature photography prizes. I can believe this is true just looking at the 270 pages of his new book. There is little text. Pictures tell the stories very dramatically. On page 174-175 for example, we see the moment of death for a wildebeest in the jaws of a lioness. The victims eyes are wide open and his teeth bared. Bernasconi reminds us that Africa is as cruel as it is beautiful.

My favorite photos are many. I especially like the leopard lounging on a burnt sienna rock across pages 60 and 61. Behind the leopard is a sky full of dark clouds fringed with orange. He may have been relaxed moments before, but he is now gazing intently to something to the left. On pages 142-143, a lone elephant wades through a marsh. The water is deep blue and the grass vivid green. He casts a shadow three times longer than his bulk. Where is he going? On page 160-161, a lone oryx stands among yellow tufts of grass set in the reddist dirt I've ever seen. In each case, the great image is a combination of animal in a dramatic landscape.

In the acknowledgements, Bernasconi states that these pictures taken in Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, and Namibia represent many years of work. As an occasional traveller, I envy the oportunity the photographer had to see all that he captured on film. Perhaps, I would not have wanted to spend the years he spent getting them. But then again, maybe I would.

Bernasconi, Alex. Wild Africa. Firefly Books, 2010. ISBN 9781554077724.

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