Eliot Porter: In the Realm of Nature Hardcover – 30 Aug 2012
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"For the last several decades landscape photographers have concentrated on showing man's depredations of nature, but their pictures only take on meaning when set against images of untrammeled beauty by artists such as Eliot Porter."--"Wall Street Journal"
"Some of Eliot Porter's loveliest photographs of birds and fragments of the natural landscape make up this handsome sampling of his work. . . . His subjects are so subtle as to be almost invisible to a casual observer. But once Porter shows them to us, we cannot stop looking."--"ARTnews"
"Beautiful. . . . A concise course in what may be done with a camera in the hands of a master."--"Choice"
"An absolutely exquisite collection."--"Shelf Awareness"
"Eliot Porter . . . was one of the pioneers in the use of color photography, and the pioneer in portraying birds and other elements of the natural scene in color."--"Pasatiempo"
"The photo reproductions are, in a word, superb. [...] If you own only one Eliot Porter book, this is the one to have."--" Online Photographer"
"[Porter's] images are rich and saturated with movement and detail, qualities that this book by Getty curator Martineau honors by simply getting out of the way.... A brief introduction, white space, short captions, and an emphasis on quality reproduction let the artist's work stand for itself."
For the last several decades landscape photographers have concentrated on showing man s depredations of nature, but their pictures only take on meaning when set against images of untrammeled beauty by artists such as Eliot Porter. "Wall Street Journal""
Some of Eliot Porter s loveliest photographs of birds and fragments of the natural landscape make up this handsome sampling of his work. . . . His subjects are so subtle as to be almost invisible to a casual observer. But once Porter shows them to us, we cannot stop looking. "ARTnews""
Gorgeous. "Christianity Today""
Beautiful. . . . A concise course in what may be done with a camera in the hands of a master. "Choice""
An absolutely exquisite collection. "Shelf Awareness""
Eliot Porter . . . was one of the pioneers in the use of color photography, and the pioneer in portraying birds and other elements of the natural scene in color. "Pasatiempo""
The photo reproductions are, in a word, superb. [ ] If you own only one Eliot Porter book, this is the one to have. " Online Photographer""
About the Author
Paul Martineau is an associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and author of the best selling Herb Ritts: L.A. Style.
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As a book, "In the Realm of Nature" seems a bit curious. It would appear to be a catalog of a show that occurred at the Getty Museum, except that it follows the show by more than six years. The book is a broad cross section of the artist's work, starting with some of the early black and white pictures he took as a young man and proceeding to the wonderful landscapes and bird pictures taken with the earliest color materials available. It seems a retrospective of his work, and so, while his fans will find nothing new here, it does gather his greatest work under one cover. Here are the pictures he took of the western wilderness, first used by the Sierra Club in its fight against the Glen Canyon Dam, and then more widely published as a celebration of the natural world.
Modern photographers will see how technology affects the image aesthetic. In his bird images, because of the available film's low ISO, Porter was required to use huge banks of flash bulbs to capture flight images. This resulted in a huge fall off in light in the backgrounds to almost complete black. Today's photographers can capture similar images without using any flash, resulting in brighter, more realistic backgrounds. Yet long before Arthur Morris, there was Elliot Porter.
His landscapes also appeal to a slightly different aesthetic then the other art photographers of his day, and indeed, today. For artists like White and Weston, the image was all about form, whereas for the most part, Porter is usually concerned that the form explicate the content. (This is not to say that Porter could not occasionally become absorbed with form; the photographs of lichens growing on rocks certainly are derived from the aesthetics of the abstract expressionists.)
His works also differ from modern nature photography in that today's photography often works to direct our attention to the artist's vision. Porter, using deep focus, frequently presented us with complex patterns of trees and branches, leaving it to the observer to work out what the picture is about.
The essay accompanying the images is mostly biographical, with little concern for criticism, although Martineau is at pains to distinguish Porter's color usage from that of photographers William Eggleston and Stephen Shore who seemed to be concerned with color as a form without much regard for content.
The printing of the images appears to be good, although with the passage of time the colors in the original photographs have probably changed. I compared an image in the book to an actual Porter image, and I noticed a slight variation in luminosity. (On a few occasions, I questioned the accuracy of the white balance in some images, but that may have been due as much to Porter's artistic decisions as to my 21st century expectations.) I was not concerned about this since the images in the book are still quite wonderful.
Unless one already has a large collection of Porter books, this one should certainly be in the library of anyone who is concerned with the development of nature photography.
reproductions look nothing like the originals, and they look terrible. Avoid this book!
The book has an introduction by Michael Brune ED of the Sierra Club and an essay by Paul Martineau.
Recommended for anyone interested in colour photography and the use of photography for conservation.