Holiday Books; For The Traditional Photographer

As another year comes to a close, it's time to reflect upon some of the finest coffee-table books of 2004. Here is a collection of my personal favorites and I'm certain that you will enjoy them as much as I have.

Flying Flowers; by Rick Sammon; Welcome Books, 6 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011; hard cover; 100 pages; $40; (ISBN 1-932183-27-2)
A butterfly is a delicate vision of beauty. Nature's tiny masterpiece begins life as an ordinary-looking caterpillar but quickly transforms into a being as bright and colorful as a flying flower. Renowned nature photographer Rick Sammon has captured the elusive beauty of living butterflies with the use of groundbreaking digital photography techniques. The result is bold colors and crystal-clear images that looks as if it could almost flutter right off the page. This books contains 80 color images that are certain to take your breath away so be sure to add this title to your personal collection, you'll be glad you did.

Searchings: Secret Landscapes of Flowers, Volume II; by Barbara Bordnick; Welcome Books, 6 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011; hard cover; 128 pages; $40; (ISBN 1-932183-04-3)
This book offers the reader a unique opportunity to explore the secret beauty of flowers from a butterfly's perspective. Barbara Bordnick earned international acclaim through her fashion and portrait photography but her high level of technical skill is also expertly showcased on this subject. She provides a magical collection of 70 luxurious images of various species of plants and flowers that entice the eye with their vivid colors and graceful shapes. Bordnick deftly highlights each masterpiece of nature in a way that is truly inspiring and I highly recommend that you add this title to your personal collection.

Ansel Adams: Trees; photographs by Ansel Adams with selected writings; Bulfinch Press, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020; hard cover; 112 pages; $50; (ISBN 0-8212-7752-9)
This book contains a magnificant collection of 50 tritone images that range from giant sequoias to ancient cypress trees and beyond. The level of technical expertise and artistic skill required to create such a body of work reveals the depth of Ansel Adams' passion for environmentalism as he documented the beauty of these stately trees. The photos alone are a treat for the eyes but text by Adams' himself along with John Muir and Walt Whitman are a perfect compliment to the sharply detailed images that grace each page. It's a wonderful combination that you won't soon forget.

Wild Horses of the Dunes; text and photography by Rich Pomerantz; Running Press Book Publishers, 125 South Twenty-Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19103; hard cover; 80 pages; $12.98; (ISBN 0-7624-1775-7)
Chincoteague and Assateague are barrier islands located between Maryland and Virginia. They earned their share of fame because of the presence of wild horses which attract visitors from far and wide. Rich Pomerantz has deftly captured the beauty of these magnificent animals along with the colorful tale of the people of Chincoteague and their Saltwater Cowboys. This wonderful collection of over 100 images is expertly paired with lively text that explains the history and traditions that revolve around these wild horses. It's an exciting adventure that will leave you with a longing to witness the annual pony swim for yourself.

Bound For Glory: America in Color 1939-43; introduction by Paul Hendrickson; FSA/OWI Collection, The Library Of Congress, Abrams, 115 West 18th St., New York, NY 10011; hard cover; 192 pages; $35; (ISBN 0-8109-4348-4)
From the late 1930s to the early '40s two government agencies were responsible for documenting the American way of life. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) and the Office of War Information (OWI) were responsible for the creation of thousands of black and white images but hidden among them was an unknown treasure of beautiful color photographs. This book brings to glorious light the amazing pioneering color images of such great FSA photographers as Marion Post Wolcott and John Vachon. It's an awe-inspiring look at a difficult time in our past and the people who carried us through to victory.

In the Wake of Battle: The Civil War Images of Mathew Brady; by George Sullivan; Prestel Publishing, 900 Broadway, Ste. 603, New York, NY 10003; soft cover; 448 pages; $29.95; (ISBN 3-7913-2929-4)
Mathew Brady and his team of talented photographers were responsible for the creation of an amazingly comprehensive documentation of the Civil War. George Sullivan has done an excellent job of transforming this vast collection of images into a thought-provoking book that sheds new light on the conflict and the toll it took on our country. Arranged by battle site or subject, the chapters are overflowing with nearly 400 black and white images and informative essays that depict the shocking reality of war. This is not a title to be missed, I highly recommend it.