Abrams Books/Big Life Editions, 2010. 192 pp., 90 illustrations
Nick Brandt is a Los Angeles based videogapher who has followed his passion for photographing the wild animals of East Africa for the past 14 years.
With his medium-format film camera in hand, Brandt spends weeks following and becoming accepted by his subjects, before waiting for favourable combinations of lighting and behaviour.
The resulting photographs are nothing short of spectacular.
Featuring 300-line quadtone reproductions, printed under Brandt’s supervision, the tonal quality of his book On This Earth, A Shadow Falls is exceptional, the offset reproductions closely matching the rich, velvety tonality and detail of the original prints.
Brandt describes his photographs as portraits, which depict cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes and elephants, stampeding, grazing, and wading through the equally untamed grandeur of the Serengeti.
Of Brandt’s post-processing skills, Don Burmeister from The New York Photo Review says:
The controlled burning and dodging, increased contrast, blurring and vignetting of the images serves to accentuate the subjects far beyond what even the best darkroom technician could ever achieve. As a side note, the treatment of grain in these images is particularly lush, the use of sepia and black (rather than black and white) gives an almost fresco-like texture to the prints which allows the white highlights to pop.
On This Earth, A Shadow Falls includes introductions by Jane Goodall, Alice Sebold, Vicki Goldberg, Peter Singer and Nick Brandt. Each copy is signed by the artist.
Here are some more images for your viewing pleasure… these are obviously best appreciated large, so be sure to click for bigger versions!
In one of the essays accompanying this volume, novelist Alice Sebold aptly describes Brandt’s intimate portraits, like this image above featuring a lion in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, as having “the haunting resonance of the photographs of Civil War generals long dead.”
I visited Africa in 2010 and really enjoyed my first experience of getting up close and personal with the wildlife in Botswana and photographing them in their natural habitat – of course, the resulting images were nothing like these, but I had lots of fun in the process!
I’m looking forward to receiving my copy of Nick Brandt’s book which is winging its way to me as I type – do these images resonate with you too?