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Nature - Olivier Grunewald and Bernadette Gilbertas

Young male polar bear, Churchill, Canada

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

NATURE – a simple word; just two syllables, yet it encompasses a subject so vast and so infinitely diverse that it beggars the question: can a single book do it justice?

The answer, I think, is yes and the reason is Nature by professional photographer Olivier Grunewald and writer/journalist Bernadette Gilbertas who, for 20 years, have travelled the world, driven by their passion for this remarkable subject.

Nature, a compilation of the most spectacular images from those 20 years and ranging from erupting volcanoes to ‘phantom’ icebergs, from tropical rainforests to scorching deserts, is the result.

But that’s not all. There are colours, patterns and shapes, as in Yellowstone’s Morning Glory Pool, the swirling waters of hot springs in the Uzon caldera, and the mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemarcha in Madagascar.

There are seasons, storms and sunsets; moons, mountains and monoliths and much much more besides….

Yet the secret of Nature’s success is simple. Not a single aspect of this vast subject is given in-depth coverage, thereby ensuring that nothing is sacrificed to the confines of space.

Take for example, wildlife. Of the 127 images, living creatures (animals, birds, etc) account for only 32. Yet each one is unique and therefore, doubly pleasing.

The polar bear, for instance, is a beautiful and distinctive shot of a young male cooling itself in the snow. And similarly appealing is an elephant seal spraying itself with sand – used here as a sun screen.

There are, however, no notes on how or even when the images were obtained. Which is a pity. But, with digital photography still in its infancy, I suspect that the majority, if not all, are the product of skill, time and patience.

An accompanying text by Gilbertas, plus quotations from poets, philosophers, naturalists and travel writers, give Nature an added dimension; one that reveals man’s fascination with a subject that is as unpredictable and volatile as it is beautiful and serene.

Nature is indeed, a lovely book.