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.