What a delight! I love nature. I am a photographer. I am jealous. Well no, not truly, but I greatly admire and respect the work done by Joe and Mary Ann McDonald in creating a work such as this.
The cover of Creatures Of The Night is simple and redolent. Matt black, as a representation of the night, it bears title and bylines and, fittingly, images of an Orange Nectar Bat in flight approaching a nectar-laden flower, in high gloss, laser cut from a McDonald photo for application to the colourless background. It is both representative and evocative. The image is representative of the superb photography to be found within, while the bat and its food source evoke the wonder that is nature, each species offering a benefit to the other, essential to their mutual existence.
It is no easy thing reviewing a book of this ilk. Superlatives abound but need to be held in check and more descriptive terms applied. On first receipt, I admit to browsing through the photos, ignoring Joe McDonald’s explanatory text, because the wow factor is there in the images, from the very first page.
Second time around, I read the captions, which provide a description and other information relating the creature captured in the adjacent photograph. There is an added bonus of information on how Joe and Mary Ann go about their craft. As with every professional in every field of endeavour, the better they plan and prepare, the ‘luckier’ they are in their results.
Unsurprisingly, there are no poor quality images. Considering the effort involved in creating the photos portrayed, my respect is of the highest order. At first I was determined not to have favourites but that’s an impossibility. Every page, every image, provides something new and different to the one before.
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The one photograph I will single out is the one on page 4, facing the book’s Contents page. I photograph birds (not well) and appreciate the McDonalds’ photo of a Nacunda Nighthawk captured in flight at night. It might be due to my training in aviation engineering or simple envy at how nature developed something we humans may never manage, the perfect wing, but I find the detail in the shot exquisite.
Creatures Of The Night is a quality production. In square format, its size is just about perfect for sitting in a lap, on a table, on a book holder or even to prop against the screen of a Macbook while writing a review! I can see it appealing to a wide cross-section of readers, from primary schools to nursing homes and all stages in between. It will make a great addition to any coffee table!
Creatures of the Night, Images by Joe McDonald and Mary Ann McDonald, Text by Joe McDonald. Published by New Holland Publishers Australia/UK. RRP $29.99