Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Tree: A New Vision of the American Forest Paperback – April 7, 2009
Springer Science Sale
Explore featured applied science titles on sale.
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
One of the things that makes this book of photographs so astounding is that we see something in a photograph that we could never see with our own eyes. In the case of the sequoia, we see this magnificent tree in all its beauty and grandeur for its full length, with no interference and no angular distortion. Again considering the sequoia, although the pictures of the tree are carefully stitched together so that we can recognize its unity, we also see the horizon repeated and repeated, because, of course, no matter what height we see from, we can never exclude the horizon.
This work reminded me of Bertolt Brecht, who believed in distancing the audience from his plays by using devices that would remind the audience that they were watching a play and not reality. Balog demonstrates that he is capable of stitching together a picture so that it is a seamless unity. But he also leaves those horizon lines showing, or doesn't adjust his colors between joined frames so that they don't blend perfectly, or even shows a thin black rule separating the segments of a composite picture. Like the painter Magritte, the photographer seems to be saying "This is not a tree!"
But it is not just these wonderful composites that speak to us so strongly. For example, in the open book before me, I'm looking at a picture of a lovely lignumvitae with a white fabric background that the breeze is blowing so that we can see a building pressing against the fabric, and through the fabric, and even directly, where the fabric has been wafted to the side. I can see the shadow of the lower part of the tree against the fabric and across the bottom of the picture is a gray concrete sidewalk. How beautiful it seems to me.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the author's words. Sometimes they show affection for the trees, and sometimes for his associates in the project, and sometimes for the people who live with these trees. Sometimes there is a sense of melancholy for these trees, which like all living things, will die. Often the words of books of photographs seem like an adjunct. Here though, they tell us about the photographer and the subject, and their links, and perhaps, even about our links.