Classic Africa is an amazing collection of duotone (black and white) photographs bound in an equally amazing book. Simply holding this book, lifting it, looking at it, feeling the cover; it is clear this book is special. It is the rare book that begs to be opened.
A strange thing has happened; National Geographic is what we all expect for wildlife photography. The pictures have to be stunning, incredibly detailed, glossy, and have vibrant color. Michel Poliza has taken a completely different approach to wildlife photography, a king of anti-National Geographic style. He finds the patterns, the simplicity, and the majesty of African animals. This is a book of intimate portraits of these animals, shot in black and white.
The photographs are stark and feel dry, much like the landscape where these animals live. The background is pure white or a very light gray. These are tight portraits, cropped very close. Something that doesn't work very well is the border around each image. Some form of manipulation has made the edges look ragged, like a water color painting. Flipping through the book quickly, it is apparent roughly ten or fifteen different kinds of screens were applied. This artifact is somewhat sad for such a gorgeous book.
The printing is exquisite. The extremely heavy weight (almost card stock) paper is a medium cream color. The images are set in a sepia tone, not a pure harsh black, but a very warm jet dark color. The binding is sewn and the large format (roughly 14 x 11) book opens flat to fully view the photographs. The layout is a single large picture on the right side and occasionally a small image on the left. Each picture is captioned on the left side. The layout is really pleasant and lets the images speak for themselves.
The cover is something very special. The material is some kind of synthetic material with an animal fur texture. The book title and author are deeply embossed on the cover. The 5 x 7 photograph of a leopard on the cover is a great example of the photographs inside.
This is a magnificent volume of about 150 pictures. It is a surprise to see such gorgeous black and white photographs in an era of ultra high def color images.
A copy of this book was provided for review by the publisher.