Review of "Seasons of Alaska," Edited by Ed Bovy and Alissa Crandall, Greatland Graphics, Anchorage, 128 pages, $24.95 soft; $34.95 hard cover.
Seeking to produce "the most beautiful book on Alaska ever made," editors Edward Bovy and Alissa Crandall both photographers in their own right selected more than 140 photos from a statewide team of 53 photographers.
Photographers from Southeast Alaska are Jeff Gnass, Kim Heacox, John Hyde, Nick Jans and M. Nieman.
The photographs are often breathtaking. Subjects range from images of lichen on rocks to trumpeter swans made pointillist by a snowstorm. Some photos don't rise above the postcard image of a flower or a young moose. Others, however, one turns to again and again with delight, such as Steve Kaufman's snowy owl, which seems to look the reader right in the eye.
One of the most unusual and striking is a frozen minnow and air bubbles by Judd Lake an unearthly image of what seems at first glance to be swirling hoop skirts, Whoville houses out of Dr. Seus or skaters on ice seen from the air.
The colors of some photos seem to leap from the page, such as the icewater melt pond in the Juneau Icefield by John Hyde, Myron Wright's Cathedral Spires, and the subtle rainbow captured in a frosty aspen leaf in Talkeetna by Jon Nickles.
The editors have chosen quotations about nature to juxtapose to the photos. Some are words by well-knowns such as Henry Thoreau and John Muir. Others come from newer writers, such as Susan Zwinger: "Eventually (there) will be a time when natural beauty is more valuable than gold." Looking at these pages, it's hard to argue with Zwinger.
The book is divided into four parts, one for each season. At the beginning of each section is a brief essay. To accommodate various tourist groups who frequent Alaska, each essay appears in English, in German and in Japanese. This makes the book, the publishers say, "Alaska's first international pictorial photo essay." However, none of the individual photo captions appear in any language except English.
Northern lights, sleeping grizzlies, dripping moose, glaciers, snowy peaks, ox bow lakes, fireweed at Brotherhood Park with Mendenhall Glacier in the background and caribou are all included, plus some of Alaska's smaller attractions such as shells on the beach, dragonflies and berries. "Seasons of Alaska" should be a premier choice for sending to relatives for the holidays.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org