Echoes of Earth
With the tail winds of Hurricane Sandy still buffeting our home last week, there was knock on the door and my mail carrier delivered a photography book that I had been looking forward to reviewing for my readers.
With a blanket wrapped around me for warmth, I settled down for a pleasant tour of some of the oldest rocks on our planet, which is the raison d’etre of writer-photographer L. Sue Baugh and her traveling companion, Lynn Martinelli. Over a period of ten years these two amazing women logged in 54,000 miles to visit and photograph these rock formations. The result is Echoes of Earth published by Wild Stone arts . Their incredible journey taught them some fascinating lessons about life itself.
The narrative is compelling, although at times too New Wave for my scientific training. For example, in a section on lichens, the author states: “As we move closer to each one, there’s a strange feeling of recognition, as if in some child-like way we know each other. Maybe the spirits are trying once again to give us knowledge.” Maybe. Yet one has to respect the awe these women experience when wandering these ancient rocky outcroppings.
In the chapter entitled ‘Strength Within our Bones,’ the author explains how a fundamental mineral, apatite, formed some 4.5 billion years ago is critical to the strength and rigidity of our bones. Baugh extends that information into the chapter titled ‘Ancient Life Within Us,’ which shows how the ancient minerals- all derivative of rocks- form the basis of our biology.
Yet, to be candid, the most surprising element of the book was the photography. Billed as having “breath-taking photographs,” I was sorely disappointed. Now I do not expect every coffee-table book to have stunning photography, but in a tome that boasts “over 200 spectacular photographs from three contents,” I expected far better images.
First, the images suffer from amateurish composition that make most of them dull and uninteresting. Second, the authors obviously confined their photography to mid-day hours almost exclusively, missing out on the lighting of “magic hours” which might have added some mood and drama. Third, most of the images are out of focus and far too many suffer from serious grain (all the photography was recorded on film). Finally, many of the images were overly enlarged, making them appear soft.
The publishers tried to add a few gimmicks, such as fold-out pages, fold-up pages, and circles and ovals cutouts. Unfortunately, due to the poor photography I do not feel they work.
One final point. It is not clear what role the second woman, Lynn Martinelli, has in the book’s production, other than accompanying Baugh. Did she write any of the text? Did she contribute to the photography? In the “About Us” section of their website, both women are profiled, yet the book only has Baugh’s name on the cover. In the FAQ section the text refers to “our photography.” As a reviewer I’m confused.
I wish I could have been floored by this book. But, for $40 I think photography readers would expect more.