A collection of famous and lesser-known works of historical significance, culled from more than a century of photography, is divided into geographical regions and includes a special section on space exploration.
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Since the 10.5 million images in National Geographic's possession won't fit in a book, the 250 in this moderately glossy, minimally costly collection will do nicely. Through the Lens is a stunning collection of photos judiciously apportioned to represent the regions of the earth, the sea, and outer space; humans and nature; and even the history of the medium--a few historic black and whites contrast dramatically with the eye-popping modern color shots that dominate the book. As ever, the esthetic key to their impact is the use of big, emotional pictures with witty little captions, and whenever possible, startling juxtapositions. A Boston matron's faux-fur coat looks just like her pet Dalmatian (the caption identifies them as "spots fans"). The world's widest street (in Buenos Aires) by night looks great next to a grassy highway overpass for grizzly bears in Alberta. The famous green-eyed Afghan refugee poses in a purple burkha with her 1985 National Geographic cover. A Moscow shopper tries on a snowsuit, oblivious to the huge face in the ad on the wall behind him, whose nose he obscures and smile he bisects. A fuzzy shot of a 1907 inventor testing a multiwinged "Katydid" flying machine contrasts with a crisp 1974 shot of Skylab soaring far above fluffy clouds. Often, what's striking is the juxtaposition of ideas. An Arctic wolf making an impossible leap between ice floes arcs in midair, only its reflection hitting the frigid water. A 1935 Model T "surfs" a steep dune in White Sands, New Mexico. Chorus lines of stuffed cane-toad corpses with surreally clothespinned snouts perform on a taxidermist's shelf. Newborns are lined up like bread loaves in Shanghai. A woman in a white chador sits in the Tripoli airport, the white lines of fluorescent ceiling bulbs radiating behind her head like a saint's halo. This isn't the fanciest photo book of the season, but it certainly is a good deal. –Tim AppeloAbout the Author:
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC is one of the world’s leading nonfiction publishers, proudly supporting the work of scientists, explorers, photographers, and authors, as well as publishing a diverse list of books that celebrate the world and all that is in it. National Geographic Books creates and distributes print and digital works that inspire, entertain, teach, and give readers access to a world of discovery and possibility on a wide range of nonfiction subjects from animals to travel, cartography to history, fun facts to moving stories. A portion of all National Geographic proceeds is used to fund exploration, conservation, and education through ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society.
Leah Bendavid-Val is the former director of photography publishing for National Geographic Books and the author of several works on photography, including National Geographic: The Photographs, Song Without Words: The Photographs and Diaries of Countess Sophia Tolstoy, and Stories on Paper and Glass: Pioneering Photography at National Geographic. She has curated photography exhibitions for museums worldwide.
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