Category Archives: Book Reviews – Photography

Relevant photography books

The excellent wildlife photography book, ‘BEAR’, by Paul Nicklen (Tuesday evening’s speaker at Kleinhans, in Buffalo)

One of my recent posts was about Paul Nicklen’s National Geographic presentation on Tuesday, March 4th, at Kleinhans, in Buffalo.

Today (March 2), I’ve spent quite some time looking at his excellent wildlife photography book:  ‘BEAR — The Spirit of the Wild’

The cover of Paul Nicklen's book, 'BEAR'
The cover of Paul Nicklen’s book, ‘BEAR’

The introductory description of the book, inside the dust jacket, reads:  “…a powerful visual journey that reveals the private world of the great denizens of the wild north. National Geographic photographer and biologist Paul Nicklen takes readers on a special journey to some of his favorite corners of the planet’s northern latitudes, providing rare and intimate glimpses of bears and portraying them as noble ambassadors of the wild.  Through his unforgettable images and personal narrative, Nicklen strives to show us a different side of bears…” Initially, when I first opened to the book to flick through the photographs, I was a little cautious because some of the first half-dozen images have been pushed to the very limit in terms of printing very small sections of the original file and/or filling a double-page spread, but despite some visible ‘noise’ on those images as a result of this, it cannot be denied that they are still very powerful.  And the good news is that such issues are confined to those initial images; from that point on the quality gets higher and effectively stays there.  Indeed, many of the subsequent images are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Introductory small images of Mr. Nicklen himself, on pages 20-23, show just how close he is prepared to work  to bears and — quite literally — the validity of his approach is put into words by the start of his introduction, on page 19, where he writes: “If you have picked up this book hoping to read about a near-death experience with a bear, you will be deeply dissappointed.  As you will witness through the images and the stories from these great authors, none of us has a terrifying story to tell.  Instead, we have all been greatly inspired by the last true nomads of North America…”

My own favourite images?  Well, I’m going to list the page numbers but there’s a very high chance that your favourites would be different to mine, as they undeniably should be, because we all have different likes.

  • Polar bears: 34-35, 36-37, 40-41, 48, 54-55, 198
  • Grizzlies: 86-87, 88-89, 104-5,  112-13
  • Black bears: 152-3
  • Spirit bears (i.e. white-coloured black bears but they’re not albinos): 166-67, 168-69, 172-73 (same as cover), 178-79

There are some excellent none-bear photographs, too, including several environmental shots — mostly from planes — as well as:

  • narwhals at a large breathing hole, with polar bears watching
  • an outrageously good shot of a ringed seal surfacing
  •  caribou migrating
  •  salmon migrating

Whether or not you are going to Paul Nicklen’s talk in two days’ time — which is not all about bears — you might want to check this book out.  (Barnes & Noble on Niagara Falls Boulevard has a copy in the ‘Nature’ section, by the bow window.)  It is $35.00 but for any keen wildlife watcher or nature photographer it would be a fine addition to one’s library.

The other book by Paul that I know of is called ‘Polar Obsession’, which clearly will be more closely related to his imminent talk (click for further details).

Eddie Wren