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Visions of Earth: Beauty, Majesty, Wonder by…
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Visions of Earth: Beauty, Majesty, Wonder (2011)

by National Geographic, Susan Taylor Hitchcock

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Great work of Nat geo photogs, very inspiring photographs ( )
  ldallara | Jan 3, 2014 |
At first glance this is an impressive tome. a large volume of over 500 pages crammed with full colour photographs. The theme is the beauty, majesty and wonder of the world, be it the natural wonders, the people, or aspects of the man made world, they all feature here from the large and magnificent right down to the minute. The photographs are grouped according to a number of different and seemingly arbitrary subjects or ideas such as Curves, Surfaces, Unexpected, Spectrum and many more. Each photograph carries a brief caption identifying the place and the photographer along with thirty to forty words of description.

There is no denying the book has impact, and the photography is for the most part impressive, but is that enough? On closer inspection one or two trends it soon become apparent. The general presentation is rather overwhelming; many of the images are printed as full page bleed pictures, often the image crosses the gutter, they very quickly becomes tiresome to the eyes. The vast majority of the pictures are very warm in tone, strong reds and yellows seem to predominate, and very many are high contrast with areas of deep and dense shadow. In fact the colours in general are over dramatic, exaggerated and often gaudy, sometimes to an extreme. There are a few exceptions, but these are rare indeed. There a few pages where the photograph is presented on the white background of the page, and these come as a welcome relief; they also suggest how much better the book would be if the majority of pictures were shown in this way.

As for the subject of the photographs, there is certainly a great deal of variety and the scope is vast, but do they really reveal the beauty, majesty and wonder of the world? There are some shots of amazing sights, but all too often the photography gets in the way, this is in reality not so much a book of the wonders of the world as the wonders of photography, and a very limited range of photographic approaches at that. The drama is more often than not a result of theatrical lighting, unusual angles or highly enhanced colours of contrasts. Sometimes the subject is thoroughly common place and the picture depends entirely on the tricks of the photographer. Where are the true wonders of this world well photographed so as to let the beauty speak for itself?

The is not so much a book of the wonders of the world as a book of a particular style of photography, and cliché ridden photography at that. If you are expecting to see the natural and man made wonders of this world there are a few here, but not many, if you are looking to see some beautiful photography you may also be disappointed unless the brash and vivid appeal to you. This book fails on so many scores, but ultimately it fails to convince. Thankfully the world is far more varied in sight and mood, more subtle and very much more beautiful than the world the Visions of the Earth offers.

If you are bedazzled by the brash and gaudy you will be seduced by this book, however if you hanker more for the unusual and subtle, you are unlikely to find it here. ( )
  presto | Apr 23, 2012 |
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National Geographicprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hitchcock, Susan Taylormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"Visions of Earth raises a curtain on the wonders of the world and thrills us with nature's opulence and humanity's splendor. Each image alone exposes a nugget of our planet's magnificence; the totality of the collection goes beyond our imagination. Turning the pages, viewers are struck by the richness of life on Earth. One photograph is more awe-inspiring than the next--chosen by veteran National Geographic Magazine photo editors to present what is visually incredible. The photographs are drawn from the popular "Visions of Earth" feature in the magazine, (rated #1 by readers), from our own storied Image Collection, and from renowned photographers throughout the world, many never-before published. Enthralling images fill the book in a gallery of stunning landscapes, fascinating people, amazing animals, and unexpected glimpses of the usual and unusual. Puffins' beaks signal breeding time in Norway and a speckled emperor moth in South Africa diverts predators with an illusion. An elephant takes a morning dip in India's Andaman Sea while Siamese crocodiles race in Thailand and surfers in Australia relish a perfect day. Monks in Bhutan run to dinner and a little girl in red stands out among white-robed women in an Indonesian mosque. Spanish youth decked in colorful, oversize papier-m?ache heads celebrate a festival in Catalonia and a flower of flame blooms from a man's kerosene-filled mouth in a Sikh celebration in India. Around the globe, amazing moments are captured in time, from a spray of flash frozen petal fragments in California to a truck show of chrome-covered and gleaming neon rigs half the world away in Japan. Visions of Earth is a welcome escape from the news of natural disasters, conflict, political upheaval, and social unrest that fills our lives. The book delights our senses, ignites our emotions, and renews our optimism, showcasing the many ways that our world is a marvel to behold and a privilege to call home"--… (more)

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