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Concepts of Nature - Andy Rouse

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CONCEPTS of Nature isn’t just a book about wildlife photography; it’s also about the everyday challenges that photographers face when they seek to express themselves through the medium of photography. At least, that’s how British wildlife photographer Andy Rouse sees it. And I think you’ll agree when you see this beautiful book.

In many ways, Concepts of Nature is a celebration of Rouse’s extraordinary career behind the lens. In the opening section, Visions – Expression – Inspiration, the images, many previously unpublished, chart his development from “a one ‘big shot’ merchant” (his words) to an artist who uses light “to tell a story and depict a scene.”

Of the ‘big shot’, the African Elephant is a fine example. In fact, it’s such a fine example that it won the Animal Behaviour section in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. But of course, it’s no ordinary elephant but a large bull, one that was disturbed in a mud wallow by the sound of a camera shutter and proceeded to hurl a trunkful of mud its way. The result – an award-winning image.

It’s also testament to the patience, dedication and innovation of Rouse, who actually dared to set up his camera and tripod in the mud wallow and capture the image by remote control from the relative safety of his vehicle. He wasn’t, however, quite so lucky with an irate capercallie!

Other sections include Journey South which, as its name suggests, features images from South Georgia and Antarctica; Just Plain Beautiful, a selection of animal and bird portraits; Atmosfear, a portfolio of atmospheric pictures taken in inhospitable environmental conditions; and the inevitable Predator and Prey, although even here you’ll find a remarkable series of images of a kingfisher successfully ‘fishing’.

However, I particularly like the section entitled Red5, a collection of photographs taken during those five minutes after sunrise and before sunset. They include African lions, a red deer stag, a roe deer, a cheetah, a barn owl and my personal favourite, an African leopard.

Quite apart from the images, what makes Concepts of Nature so special is the accompanying text that takes you behind the camera and into the world of the photographer. The two combine to make this not only an informative and oftimes humorous guide for aspiring photographers but a book that armchair connoiseurs of outstanding photography will treasure.