by Eliot Porter,
Bulfinch Press, 159 pp., $37.50
The Company We Keep,
edited by Douglas Chadwick and Joel Sartore,
National Geographic Society, 160 pp., $27.50
by Paul Tingay,
St. Martin's Press, 240 pp., $45
Birds of North America,
edited by Noel Grove,
Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 252 pp., $60
The World of the Polar Bear,
by Norbert Rosing, Firefly, 174 pp., $40
What to look for in a wildlife book: Ideally you want to find a book that makes you say "wow!" with each turn of the page. Animals have personalities, and the best wildlife photos help you get to know the animals by their movements and interactions.
The book should have good-quality paper stock that allows the detail in the photos to appear lifelike. And the presentation should have some kind of logic in order to hold the reader/viewer's interest.
Accessible caption information can really help maintain a reader's interest. Good text is a plus - but great shots are the most important factor.
Vanishing Songbirds, by Eliot Porter, Bulfinch Press, 159 pp., $37.50.
A posthumous collection of Porter's work on a subject that he edited before he died in 1990. The nicely printed color images of songbirds in or around their nests are rendered in detail possible only with a large-format camera.
Artistically, the only drawback is that Porter's technique (angle, distance, composition, and location) can give the appearance of a bird catalogue.
The Company We Keep, edited by Douglas Chadwick and Joel Sartore, National Geographic Society, 160 pp., $27.50.
This National Geographic publication is a region-by-region coverage of endangered species in America. The book is not built solely around the photographs. But the pictures are collectively a good storyteller. They're well-edited, and accompanied by maps and charts that help explain how man is threatening many species, from manatees to vernal pool tadpole shrimp.
Wildest Africa, by Paul Tingay, St. Martin's Press, 240 pp., $45.
This is a coffee-table book in the purest sense. It illustrates wild Africa region by region using a lot of photos taken by a lot of photographers. For the most part the photos are good, well-printed shots of sprawling landscapes, wildlife, and native peoples. But conceptually, this book lacks focus and the photos cry out for captions.
Birds of North America, edited by Noel Grove, Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 252 pp., $60.
This book is well photographed, edited, and printed. You don't have to be a birder to appreciate the variety of settings and exquisite color renditions of birds in their habitat. Shot by six top wildlife photographers, the photos capture an intimate look at all North American bird types.
The World of the Polar Bear, by Norbert Rosing, Firefly, 174 pp., $40.
This book is the definitive work on the polar bear. It also includes images of other arctic wildlife and some beautiful shots of the aurora borealis. The photos capture good action and even some humor like the shots of the dog and the polar bear playing harmlessly.