Q: Most of the Christmas presents I give are books. Can you recommend any books for the photographers on my list?
A. I'm planning to give some book gifts this year, too. Here are some on my gift list:
Sight-Seeing in Space -- This is a collection of 84 pictures from the NASA archives, with an introduction by Arthur C. Clark. The pictures were taken from (or by) several of the orbiters, Apollo 8, Apollo 11, Viking and Voyager.
Some are pictures we've seen before, all are incredible. We tend to be blase about space these days, but going back to a picture of the earth rising over a moon rock is a bracing experience.
The reproduction is excellent and some of the pictures of earth are sharp, its features easily identified. $24.95.
Legends -- This is a collection of pictures in black-and-white and sepia-tone of celebrities, mostly from TV and the movies, in new and sometimes unfamiliar poses.
The shot of Dustin Hoffman as a New York panhandler is a real stopper. I almost didn't recognize him. Familiar people, yes, but in different settings. A 1970 picture of Mae West dressed as the Statue of Liberty and a 1973 curtain-call shot of Marlene Dietrich alone are worth the price of the book.
The work of British photographer Terry O'Neill, "Legends" is published by Viking Press and sells for $25.
After the War Was Over -- The title tells it all. This is a collection of 168 pictures by 17 Magnum photographers, including Werner Bishof, Cornell Capa, Robert Capa and Phillippe Halsman. The pictures are in black-and-white, some shocking, some funny, some very poignant.
Robert Capa's 1945 picture,"Liberation of Paris," shows the gaunt, joyful citizens whooping it up, but showing a deep weariness.
Henri Cartier-n's 1951 picture of the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin shows the devastation and destruction -- and its effect on one man.
Published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, it sells for $34.95.
Examples -- The Making of 40 Prints contains 40 favorites of Ansel Adams with notes, anecdotes and data about each. Superb reproduction.
The Adams "how-to" books are equally fine. The four that particularly interest me are Polaroid Photography, The Camera, The Negative and The Print. His total love of photography shines through.
Yosemite and the Range of Light has to be my favorite Adams book for the year. In his foreward, Adams talks of the Sierra Nevada, the "Range of Light," and how it "dominated his mind, art and spirit" from early 1916.
There is a narrative by Paul Brooks that gives a history of the Yosemite Valley and surrounding area and sets the tone for the Adams pictures that follow -- remarkably well-reproduced pictures, all taken in the Sierra Nevada, most of them in Yosemite National Park.
You cannot go through this book rapidly. There is so much to see in each of these pictures. You would think that 116 pictures, all shot in the same area, would look alike. It's not so. Don't rush; each picture deserves to be studied. The frontispiece, for instance, "Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite Valley, 1944," is at least four separate subjects. Yet Adams picked the perfect spot to take a picture that blended them.
His "Fir Forest in Snow" from 1948 looks like a painting or a special-effect engraving. The contrast of his "Mount Morrison, Sierra Nevada" from 1945 makes it boldly three-dimensional.
The book is published by Little, Brown and Company and the paperback edition sells for $25.
Washington, D.C. -- may be my find of the year. It's a remarkable collective portrait of the city by some of the nation's top photographers, such as Marianne Bernstein, Michael Evans, Nicholas Foster, Fred J. Maroon and Fred Ward.
It contains 160 illustrations, including 136 of the best color reproductions I have ever seen. The book opens with a series of two-page spreads portraying aspects of Washington life and culture. Maroon's picture of the mist on the Mall from the top of the Washington Monument is breathtaking.
The book also contains a series of historic black-and-whites showing early construction of the city. The introduction by J. C. Suares and the captions by Bill Harris add the right touch and mood for this collection. MESSAGES IN MONOCHROME
An exhibition of black-and-white photography by Lowell Anson Kenyon opens this Sunday in Baltimore. Presented by the Council on Fine Arts Photography, the show runs through January 4, on the ground floor of the World Trade Center, 401 East Pratt Street, on the Inner Harbor.