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Tree: A New Vision of the American Forest Paperback – April 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 182 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402767161
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402767166
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 7.4 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,398,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his innovative 1990 book, Survivors, nature photographer Balog used the conventions of fashion photography to make portraits of endangered species: he posed a mandrill on a stool, for example, and snapped a Florida panther against a white sheet. It was a method that simultaneously highlighted their individuality as creatures and their status as threatened species. Later, he began to photograph trees that way, using cranes to hoist giant white backdrops and capturing oaks and cottonwoods against their clean billowing lines. But, as Friend writes in his introduction, Balog wasn't fully satisfied, and eventually, he hit upon the method highlighted in this book: multiple digital photographs snapped from hundreds of angles and then arranged into a composite photograph that combines pure, detailed realism with the playful dynamism of cubism. The portraits gathered here are a stunning tribute to majestic trees across America, and paired mini-essays offer a wealth of tree trivia. Readers will learn that chlorophyll and blood are "nearly identical substances" differing "by only a single atom out of the 137 atoms in each of their molecular structures," and that lightning strikes oak more than any other species of tree. Those who imagined arboreal photography as a leisurely process will revise their opinions upon reading about Balog's efforts to photograph the coastal redwood nicknamed the Stratosphere Giant. Strung up in a "sort of Tyrolean traverse" 35 stories up and buffeted by winds, Balog took photos while fearing for his life. The end result: 814 frames, taken from the top all the way down, which he then assembled into a single giant mosaic photograph (in this book, it's a fold-out three-pager). It's a mind-boggling image-one of many in this gorgeous volume.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Janine Smith on January 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a stunning book--amazing photos of amazing trees. But the text is equally good. I enjoyed all the stories about the trees, and how Balog got the photos. Give this book to your favorite tree lover, photography lover, or anyone who wants a unique view of America.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dizzy Lizzy on February 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It is a book for those that are tired of the standard, boring photography, like me. True photography is an art in creating a painting out of film. This photographer often made his own type of canvas within the limits of nature it's self. Rather than just take pictures of a beautiful tree as they were, he let you into the world of a tree through various angle shots, multiple shots, and different backgrounds. He created them and didn't just shove a camera in their direction. He made them appear to be living and moving creatures. It's magical and chilling. Instead of just shooting landscape with gorgeous trees in it he chose to make a story behind it all. This was not another average project that was only about seeking the pretty and portraying only that. It feels as though there are real thoughts behind those trees. Or as though there is some bigger idea than just beauty. For example: In one frame he adjusted the focus just a bit to make it seem as though this tree was actually reaching out to you with it's limbs, aching for you to take hold of it! In another it appears as though one unaware tree was caught dancing. These are just some teasers but there is so much more. It's like make-up! Make-up was meant as an enhancer not a total make-over. That just is what he has done. Enhanced something already beautiful on it's own and made it all so alluring. I hope whoever buys this book looks at this peice of art with the mind of, "now this is what it truly is all about." This is what I raid the shelves for in the books I choose to read, in the movies I choose to watch, and in the art I choose to spy apon. Idea. Bigger and better than the creation itself! This is not a book for the coffe table! It is better than that and deserves the study of thought. If you are like me this is a book for you and not just your coffe table chatter like so many others. I encourage all to venture away from normal and step into the universe of imagination!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Fine on December 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Some of the coolest photgraphs on trees taken in a manner you would never had thought possible. Must have taken thousands of hours to shoot and assemble the photos. Great coffee table book for anyone who appreciates trees and unique stlyes of photography.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Conrad J. Obregon TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Here is a high concept book that you may appreciate more if you keep in mind that when you look at a tree, you are not looking at a flat plane that is always perpendicular to your line of vision. When standing on the ground, you are looking at the top of the tree at an angle. Of course the further you get from the tree, the smaller that angle is, but the top of the tree is never the same distance from us as the bottom of the tree.

Jim Balog set out to photograph trees in a different way. What I suspect were his earliest tree pictures were multi-picture diptychs, triptychs and so forth. He also tried to set his tree subjects apart from their environments by erecting white cloth backgrounds. Eventually he decided that the only way he could get pictures of really big trees that didn't have the distortions mentioned at the start of this review was to take several pictures while moving himself parallel to the tree and then stitching them together. Of course that meant that to get a giant sequoia tree he had to hoist himself 242 feet into the air, suspended by a rope, and slowly lower himself to the bottom, taking four hundred and fifty-one photographs, which he later stitched together!

Although this is a book about trees, it is also a book about obsession and courage, although Balog never uses such words to describe himself. It's also about good humor that shows itself in small ways. For example, in the picture of the giant sequoia, we see one of the photographer's associates in the topmost branches of the tree, and as our eyes travel down the long foldout page we see the same associate about 50 feet off the ground climbing the same tree.
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