Ok, I'll admit in advance that I'm a bit biased when it comes to Dav Thomas' first book "With Trees". Dav has become a good friend since we both started shooting large format at the same time back in 2007 and since then we've lead workshops together and gone on a few, usually quite wet, photography trips.
When I heard that he was getting a book published by the fledgeling outfit Triplekite Publishing, I knew it `should' be good as I've also worked with Dav in his role as a designer and we've mocked up a couple of book ideas ourselves (although quite typically we didn't get off our arses and finish them off).
The book is sold in a set of different editions and I plumped for the luxury edition with slip case and prints (which you need to order from Dav's website, just google "with trees dav thomas") and the book arrived with a custom screen printed cardboard protector box and inside this a subtly UV printed white slip case protects the book itself.
Pulling the book out of the slipcase was a bit of a tense moment - had Dav and David pulled it off and produced something of great quality? Well in short, yes - the book is oversize hardback and the front cover shows one of Dav's most popular images, the bullrushes in the mist (and for anyone who thinks Dav is a luddite film junkie, digi-denier - the front cover picture is from a Sony A900 and not the only digital in the book - try finding the iPhone 3 picture!). Cream toned end papers wrap the book and the title page echos the cover with a common theme through the book - that photographers friend, the misty woods.
David Ward's foreword describes the difficulty in photographing in one of the most complex environments in the landscape but also one of the richest. For David to be in awe of Dav's ability to create order out of this environment is fine praise indeed and this introduction to the book is a distillation of what it is to be a photographer.
The book doesn't pretend to be a guide to photography or a discourse on the environment - the contents are simply the images that Dav has produced interspersed with six short quotes about a small selection of images giving us a window into his attitudes and approaches to the landscape.
As a friend of Dav's we've often shown each other images as they're developed or post processed and it's nice to see a flow of images over a long period such as this but when these images are edited down into a coherent set and then arranged and coupled creatively, the images become a story, a narrative of the landscape.
Dav's passions become clear throughout the book - the transformative changes of the seasons and the weather bring the environment to life. A copse that is the one hand dull and monotone in a summer sun becomes an intriguing webwork of subtle colour in an autumnal mist or frost.
Although the theme of the book is obviously trees and the cast includes these colours and transformations, the book is what it is because of the shapes and forms that Dav brings to the landscape. In nearly every picture Dav rejects notions of compositional formula and relies on a natural sense of balance and form to create order.
The creation of each picture is a testament to attention to detail - every intersection of branch and frame, each mirroring of gesture and form is considered. The pictures rely on a sense of dynamic balance that is part overt and part instinctual where the trees become characters in a play of form, reaching and bowing for the camera.
For a book that just includes images of trees there is very little repetition (at least in my eyes) as even a small place like Bolehill in the Peak District, a few hundred square yards, provides at least 10 images in the book, all very distinct from one another. In fact unlike many photo books I can happily open it and be almost certain of finding a spread that will engage my interest; each return visit is rewarded well.
Book printing is a world unto itself and the options are endless and quite baffling - as part of this issue I've written an article on how photographic images are represented in lithographic printing because I found it difficult to just write "Dav's book is printed beautifully". In short the book is printed at very high resolution (240 lines per inch against a typical 180 lines per inch) with a technique called `Sublima' which gives better colour and tone transitions in the highlights and shadows. All of this geekery, and the fact that most images were taken on large format, means you can stick your nose right into the book and still see more detail without a distracting dot pattern. This and the fact that the book is 270mm x 345mm and printed on 170gsm matt/satin paper means the images are on a par with decent sized inkjet prints. If you get the standard book that works out at 50 pence per print! (although cost per picture is perhaps not the best way to look at a fine art book purchase!).
Highly recommended if you have any interest in landscape photography or love trees...
When I opened this book and started looking at the photography inside my jaw just kept dropping. The excellence of each image as I turned the pages was just a total delight; the consistency was unexpected. I thoroughly recommend this book for lovers of trees, fine art photography and indeed anyone who just loves to handle a quality book. Dav Thomas is obviously someone to look out for in the future.
jumped straight in to be one of my favourite photography books! Dav has a created a collection of inspiring images showing his vision and creativity to get some stunning photographic results. Id recommend this book to anybody who enjoys landscape photography or just photography in general. Ontop of all the other plus points its probably the best presented book ive ever bought, you can see all the effort that has gone into every single detail of producing it.
so yea basically if you like photography id highly recommend this book
"With Trees" is not just a landscape book but an intimate look into nature making you appreciate trees in a way that has definitely opened my eyes. Dav's artistic interpretation of nature took me into a world of beauty, peacefulness and calmness away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I do not know Dav personally other then a couple of Facebook messages, yet even from that I can tell the beauty of his work comes from the beauty of his heart. Such talent and equsitive photographs makes this book something special. Whether you want this as a coffee table book, nightstand book or wherever in your home, trust me you will find yourself immersed in this beautiful book on a daily basis. One can never tire of being part of "With Trees".
I had been looking forward eagerly to the release of this book ever since Dav Thomas and David Breen announced it's creation, and have followed the process from start to finish so I was overjoyed when it arrived. The packaging of the book was an indication as to the high workmanship that had gone into it's making and once I'd opened it I was overwhelmed by the books size and quality. Dav's work speaks for itself, his images of trees that have been created over the various seasons looks wonderful in print. The detail in the images is stunning. I can't recommend the book enough. It now takes pride of place on my bookshelf.
I endorse all the other, highly positive comments preceding this one.
The quality of imagery in this book is outstanding, both compositionally and technically. Dav Thomas has a mesmerising vision of his subject and offers a rich variety of original and highly compelling images which I confidently expect to value very highly for many years. This is facilitated by the excellence of the book's construction and photographic reproduction.
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and any one of the parts is superb: I recommend the book very highly.
I have now had a chance to look at the book and I have to say it is one of the most beautiful natural collections I have ever seen and very well printed, produced and packaged so congratulations and thanks all round to everybody concerned. Try as I might I simply cannot see any picture that does not match the incredible overall standard - nor could I begin to pick a favourite since I know I will never agree with myself as to which it could be.... If outstanding photographs of trees are your thing then here is the book for you.
I decided to start a photography book collection this year and wasn't disappointed with my first choice. With Trees sets a new standard that I've never experienced before. The quality is second to none but the photography is even better.
If you like trees you will love this book, if you like quality images you will not be disappointed. Will keep my eye out for the next publication from this photographer and publisher.