Natural History

Ancient Trees

Portraits of Time

By

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. 

Read more

Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees

By

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.

Read more

Ansel Adams

The National Park Service Photographs

By

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.

Read more

Botanica Magnifica

Portraits of the World's Most Extraordinary Flowers and Plants

By

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.

Read more

The Last Fisherman

Witness to the Endangered Oceans

By

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.

 

Read more

Spirit Stones

The Ancient Art of the Scholar's Rock

By

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.

Read more

The Trees of North America

Michaux and Redouté's American Masterpiece

By

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.

Read more

Literary Chickens

By

 From the best-selling photographer of Ancient Trees, an arresting collection of black-and-white chicken portraits paired with quotations from classic literature.

Fierce, funny, and flamboyant, fifty-two heritage-breed chickens assess the camera with a keen gaze. By focusing on the faces of her avian subjects, Beth Moon reveals them to us not just as beautiful and exotic creatures, but as individuals in their own right.

Moon’s intimate portraits capture a startling range of emotions and personalities, underscored by excerpts from literature. A martial Spanish White Face is flanked by a passage from Beowulf; a fantastical Buff-Laced Polish, by a line from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; and a refined Blue Polish, by a character sketch from Swann’s Way.

Essays by chicken keeper and best-selling author Melissa Caughey and cultural critic Collier Brown shed additional light on this fresh and remarkable body of work, which will appeal to animal lovers and literature buffs alike.

Beth Moon, a New York–based photographer, has gained international recognition for her large-scale, richly toned platinum-palladium prints. Her other books include Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time and Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees.

Read more

The Grand Medieval Bestiary

Dragonet Edition

By

 

Now in an affordable edition, a splendid pageant of the animal kingdom as the Middle Ages saw it.

As the 587 colorful images in this magnificent volume reveal, animals were a constant—and delightful—presence in illuminated manuscripts throughout the Middle Ages. They were illustrated not only in bestiaries—the compendiums of animal fact and fable that were exceedingly popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries—but in every sort of manuscript, sacred and profane, from the Gospels to the Romance of the Rose.

This book is arranged in manner of a proper bestiary, with essays on the medieval lore and iconography of one hundred creatures alphabetized by their Latin names, from the alauda, or lark, whose morning song was thought to be a hymn to Creation, to the vultur, whose taste for carrion made it a symbol of the sinner who indulges in worldly pleasures. The selection includes a number of creatures that would now be considered fantastic, including the griffin, the manticore, and of course the fabled unicorn.

Christian Heck, professor of art history at the University of Lille, is an authority on illuminated manuscripts.

Rémy Cordonnier, who holds a doctorate in art history, is head of the cultural heritage department of the library of Saint-Omer, France.

 

PRAISE FOR THE GRAND MIDIEVAL BESTIARY

 

This is a huge and beautiful book that feels almost like a trip to the Cloisters between two covers. —New York Daily News

 

 
Read more