The only birds I see on a regular basis are the pigeons when I get off the subway. To me, they're more of a nuisance than a thing of beauty. But I'm all for getting out of my comfort zone and looking at things in a new light.
The Splendor of Birds, a 500-plus page tome, is a vivid exploration of more than 130 years worth of photos and paintings from the National Geographic archive. And "vivid" seems like such a mild description of the artwork in this book. To truly grasp it, you have to see the photos/artwork up close. The vibrant colors of some of the birds, like cobalt winged parakeets, ostriches, and hummingbirds, really pop on the page.
I would say the book is 90 percent photography/paintings, with the other 10 percent focusing on the history of Nat Geo magazine and the publication's coverage of birds. The first managing editor of the magazine had a love birds, so much so that he championed for the use of color and photographic images. Sections labelled "Then & Now" showcase the challenges of photographing birds in the past and the present. Film vs. digital photography was particularly interesting. In 1986, one photographer was fortunate to have several roles of film with, leading to the perfect shot of penguins swimming underwater. In 2012, another photographer didn't have to worry about reloading the camera because with digital photography thousands of images can be a single memory card.
The mix of history and photography plays well here. Although I wish there was a little bit more text. There are a couple snippets here and there about the backstory of some of the photographs and I wanted more!
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (National Geographic) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours.