Natural History

Ancient Trees

Portraits of Time

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Mesmerizing black-and-white photographs of the world’s most majestic ancient trees.

Holiday Gift Guide Selection -- San Francisco Chronicle

Beth Moon’s fourteen-year quest to photograph ancient trees has taken her across the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Some of her subjects grow in isolation, on remote mountainsides, private estates, or nature preserves; others maintain a proud, though often precarious, existence in the midst of civilization. All, however, share a mysterious beauty perfected by age and the power to connect us to a sense of time and nature much greater than ourselves. It is this beauty, and this power, that Moon captures in her remarkable photographs.

This handsome volume presents sixty of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.

Moon’s narrative captions describe the natural and cultural history of each individual tree, while Todd Forrest, vice president for horticulture and living collections at the New York Botanical Garden, provides a concise introduction to the biology and preservation of ancient trees. An essay by the critic Steven Brown defines Moon’s unique place in a tradition of tree photography extending from William Henry Fox Talbot to Sally Mann, and explores the challenges and potential of the tree as a subject for art. 

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Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees

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Photographer Beth Moon revisits the world’s oldest trees in the darkest places on earth, using color photography to capture vibrant nighttime skies

Throughout much of the world, night skies are growing increasingly brighter, but the force that protects the remaining naturally dark sky, unpolluted by artificial light, is the same that saves its ancient trees—isolation. Staking out some of the world’s last dark places, photographer Beth Moon uses a digital camera to reveal constellations, nebulae, and the Milky Way, in rich hues that are often too faint to be seen by the naked eye. As in her acclaimed first volume, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, these magnificent images encounter great arboreal specimens, including baobabs, olive trees, and redwoods, in such places as South Africa, England, and California.

In her artist’s statement, Beth Moon describes the experience of shooting at night in these remote places. An essay by Jana Grcevich, postdoctoral fellow of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, provides the perspective of a scientist racing to study the stars in a world growing increasingly brighter. Clark Strand, the author of Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age, takes a different tack, illuminating the inherent spirituality of trees.

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Ansel Adams

The National Park Service Photographs

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This tiny treasure is a glorious tribute to Ansel Adams and to the vanishing landscape he loved.

In 1941 Ansel Adams was hired by the United States Department of the Interior to photograph America's national parks for a series of murals that would celebrate the country's natural heritage. Because of the escalation of World War II, the project was suspended after less than a year, but not before Adams had produced this group of breathtaking images, which illustrate both his early innovations and the shape of his later, legendary career as America's foremost landscape photographer.

The invitation to photograph the nation's parklands was the perfect assignment for Adams, as it allowed him to express his deepest convictions as artist, conservationist, and citizen. These stunning photographs of the natural geysers and terraces in Yellowstone, the rocks and ravines in the Grand Canyon, the winding rivers and majestic mountains in Glacier and Grand Teton national parks, the mysterious Carlsbad Caverns, the architecture of ancient Indian villages, and many other evocative views of the American West demonstrate the genius of Adams' technical and aesthetic inventiveness.

In these glorious, seminal images we see the inspired reverence for the wilderness that has made Ansel Adams' work an enduring influence on the intertwining spirits of art and environmentalism, both so necessary for the preservation of our natural world.

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Audubon's Birds of America

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Abbeville's magnificent volume on John James Audubon's world famous ornithological engravings.

This marvelous edition of Audubon's Birds of America displays all 435 of Audubon's brilliant handcolored engravings in exquisite reproductions taken from the original plates of the Audubon Society's archival copy of the rare Double Elephant Folio. Although many attempts have been made to re-create the magnificent illustrations in Audubon's masterpiece, nothing equals the level of fidelity or scale achieved in this high-quality edition.

Organized and annotated by Roger Tory Peterson, America’s best-known ornithologist, and issued with the full endorsement and cooperation of the Audubon Society, this magnificent volume is as thorough in scientific classification as it is beautiful. Peterson's fascinating introduction places Audubon in the context of the history of American ornithological art and also reproduces a wide sampling of the work of Audubon's notable predecessors and disciples, including Peterson's own justly famous paintings.

This new systematic arrangement of the prints, complete with informative commentaries about each bird, made it possible to correct many of the problems or errors in Audubon's original edition revealed by later scholarship. The colorful captions in the back provide fascinating commentaries on each featured bird.

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Botanica Magnifica

Portraits of the World's Most Extraordinary Flowers and Plants

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Botanica Magnifica features two hundred and fifty stunning photographs of rare and exotic plants and flowers by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer.

Botanica Magnifica features two hundred and fifty stunning photographs by Hasselblad Laureate Award winner Jonathan Singer, representing—in the words of an ARTnews critic—rare or exotic plants and flowers “in large scale and exquisite detail, emerging from the shadows in a manner evocative of Old Master paintings.”

The original edition of Botanica Magnifica, consisting of five lavishly hand-bound volumes, was limited to just ten copies, the first of which was recently donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The extra-large “double-elephant” format of that edition was chosen in homage to the famous double-elephant folio of The Birds of America, and indeed, Botanica Magnifica is one of the few works of natural history ever to rival Audubon’s magnum opus in its scope and artistry. In praise of the double-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica, the Smithsonian’s Chairman of Botany attested, “Everyone who has seen the photographs . . . has been tremendously impressed with the power, scale, and depth of the work.”

Now Singer’s remarkable images are available to the public for the first time in this baby-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica. Like the larger edition, this volume is organized into five alphabetically arranged sections, each introduced by a gatefold page that displays one extraordinary plant at a luxurious size. Each pictured plant is accompanied by a clear and accessible description of its botany, geography, folklore, history, and conservation.

With its marvelous reproductions and fascinating text, the baby-elephant folio of Botanica Magnifica is one of the most impressive volumes of natural history ever published. This volume is also available in a leatherbound, slipcased edition.

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Fine Bonsai

Art & Nature

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In this luxurious volume, renowned botanical photographer Jonathan Singer presents his breathtaking images of the world's most notable bonsai.

The practice of cultivating bonsai may be traced back some two thousand years, to the earliest representations of potted trees in Chinese art, and is thought to have reached Japan in the Heian period (AD 794–1185), a time of rich cultural exchange. This unique branch of horticulture attained its maturity, and received its present name, in Japan’s Edo period (1603–1868), and many fine bonsai are recorded in the woodblock prints of that era. As Japan broadened its trade and diplomatic contacts after the Meiji Restoration, bonsai became a matter of international interest, and today bonsai masters around the world have learned to grow hundreds of varieties of trees and shrubs in miniature, training them into living sculptures. Their exquisite creations, which change with the passage of the years and the cycle of the seasons, exemplify the connection between man and nature, life and art.

In Fine Bonsai: Art & Nature, the finest extant achievements in the art of bonsai are seen together for the first time, through the lens of renowned botanical photographer Jonathan Singer. This magnificent volume is the result of an ambitious photographic campaign, in the course of which Singer was granted unprecedented access to the most respected public and private collections in Japan and the United States, including the mecca of bonsai, the Omiya Bonsai Village of Saitama, Japan, where photography is normally prohibited. Three hundred stunning full-page images and four lavish gatefolds present bonsai of all types, from quiet representations of nature to colorful fall foliage to bold sculptural forms. The horticultural and aesthetic characteristics of each bonsai are concisely and authoritatively described in the narrative captions by William N. Valavanis, head of the International Bonsai Arboretum in Rochester, New York. And because the container is considered an integral part of any bonsai—indeed, the literal meaning of “bonsai” is “tray plant”—the book also includes some twenty-five photographs of traditional bonsai containers, with descriptions. A further sequence of twenty-five photographs is devoted to the related art of suiseki, or miniature stone landscapes displayed in the same manner, and often alongside, bonsai.

With his groundbreaking first book, Botanica Magnifica, Jonathan Singer established a new style of botanical photography, characterized by an exceptional clarity of detail and richness of color, as well as a painterly chiaroscuro. These qualities are just as evident in the present volume; Singer photographs each bonsai with an artist’s—one might even say a portraitist’s—eye, capturing its individual character, and in some cases revealing qualities hitherto unsuspected even by those who tended it daily. Fine Bonsai not only documents the masterpieces of an ancient horticultural art, but also is a masterpiece in itself. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

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The Last Fisherman

Witness to the Endangered Oceans

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With breathtaking images and compelling stories, an underwater photographer chronicles the glory, and devastation, of our changing oceans.

Rotman’s passion for photographing marine life took a dramatic turn when he found a pile of sharks at the bottom of the sea stripped of their fins and left to die by rogue fisherman. The Last Fisherman documents the catastrophic changes in ocean wildlife and the people whose lives depend on hunting it.When author Jeff Rotman began his adventures as an underwater photographer more than 40 years ago, he relished the beauty of the deep sea and the thrill of the hunt. A member of an elite group of photographers, he has captured iconic photographs of sharks and other creatures of the deep that can be seen in National Geographic as well as the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week television series.

Rotman has witnessed the near commercial collapse of cod fisheries in the North Atlantic and the growth of illegal poaching in the protected waters of Cocos Island which threatens this fragile ecosystem long admired by divers for the shark and ray populations. His journey mirrors our view of the oceans as places of wonder, to the fragile hunting grounds they are today. In his introduction, marine biologist Les Kaufman discusses how the “emptying out of the oceans” has progressed over time. But he also includes stories of hope as scientists, fisherman—and observers like Jeff Rotman—come to agree that the time is now for a new approach to the most fundamental of human activities, finding sustenance in the water around us.

 

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Spirit Stones

The Ancient Art of the Scholar's Rock

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Renowned photographer Jonathan M. Singer presents his striking black-and-white images of Chinese ornamental rocks from a leading collection.

Shaped by nature and selected by man, scholars’ rocks, or gongshi, have been prized by Chinese intellectuals since the Tang dynasty, and are now sought after by Western collectors as well. They are a natural subject for the photographer Jonathan M. Singer, most recently acclaimed for his images of those other remarkable hybrids of art and nature, Japanese bonsai.

Here Singer turns his lens on some 140 fine gongshi, ancient and modern, from the world-class collection of Kemin Hu, a recognized authority on this art form. In his photographs, Singer captures the spiritual qualities of these stones as never thought possible in two dimensions. He shows us that scholars’ rocks truly are, in Hu’s words, “condensations of the vital essence and energy of heaven and earth.”

Hu contributes an introductory essay on the history and aesthetics of scholars’ rocks, explaining the traditional terms of stone appreciation, such as shou (thin), zhou (wrinkled), lou (channels), and tou (holes). She also provides a narrative caption for each stone, describing its history and characteristics.

Spirit Stones forms a trilogy with Singer’s two previous books, Botanica Magnifica and Fine Bonsai. In these volumes, he has established a new style of photography that blends the tonal richness and chiaroscuro of Old Master painting with a scientific clarity of detail; they represent a lasting achievement.

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The Trees of North America

Michaux and Redouté's American Masterpiece

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A remarkable selection of American forest trees surveyed by François-André Michaux and Thomas Nuttall from The North American Sylva, held in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden, featuring illustrations by celebrated botanical artists such as Pierre-Joseph Redouté and Pancrace Bessa, with an afterword by natural history artist David Allen Sibley

François-André Michaux (1770–1855) was a French botanist whose work on the trees of North America gave the world’s first illustrated account of American trees east of the Mississippi. From 1841 to 1849 Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859), an English botanist and one of the greatest plant explorers of North America, prepared supplementary volumes to Michaux’s landmark work, The North American Sylva.

Full-color reproductions of all of the more than 270 plates are now included in a single volume for the first time. Mirroring Abbeville’s best-selling National Audubon Society Birds of America, the book includes capsule summaries of every tree species featured, written by New York Botanical Garden staff, along with reference illustrations by David Allen Sibley.

Garden President Gregory Long looks at the book in the context of the New York Botanical Garden; NYBG Library Director Susan M. Fraser examines this landmark of American botanical history; award-winning garden writer Marta McDowell recounts the two botanist-explorers uncovering the continent’s arboreal riches; and best-selling ornithologist and natural history artist David Allen Sibley offers an aesthetic appreciation.

Beautifully illustrated and extensively researched, The Trees of North America will entice gardeners, art connoisseurs, and nature lovers alike.

 

The New York Botanical Garden hosts more than one million annual visitors to its 250-acre National Historic Landmark site, which features over one million living specimens, as well as one of the world’s preeminent plant research and conservation programs. Founded in 1899, the Garden’s Mertz Library is one of the largest, most comprehensive botanical libraries in the world.

David Allen Sibley is one of the world’s best-known natural history illustrators and the author of acclaimed field guides, including The Sibley Guide to Trees, which have sold more than one million copies.

Gregory Long is Chief Executive Officer and The William C. Steere Sr. President of The New York Botanical Garden.

Susan M. Fraser is Vice President and Director of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library at The New York Botanical Garden.

Marta McDowell is a gardener, lecturer, and horticultural writer. Her books include All the Presidents’ Gardens (2016) and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life (2013), winner of the Gold Award from the Garden Writers Association.

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Wildlife of New York

A Five-Borough Coloring Book

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Color your way through this insider’s tour of New York City’s iconic landmarks and little-seen neighborhoods, alongside the plants and animals that know them best

Explore lively streets, scenic parks, and teeming waterfronts in Wildlife of New York, a coloring adventure that celebrates the vibrant, humming energy of New York City and its surprisingly varied animal life. Artist Giada Crispiels’ playful scenes highlight beloved landmarks from all five boroughs—like Central Park, Coney Island, and the New York Botanical Garden—alongside charming neighborhood nooks and crannies. There are dozens of animals, from common squirrels to eagles and coyotes, that thrive in every corner of the urban jungle. The animals, as well as all of the featured locations, are described in lively captions at the back of the book.

Selected to fit any reader’s preference, Wildlife of New York’s artist quality paper reflects any coloring implement’s hue—whether it be markers, pens, or coloring pencils—in arresting blends and bold vividness. Packed with enchanting details, it will provide hours of fun for colorists of all ages, while opening their eyes to the amazing ecological diversity of even the most bustling cityscape.

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