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The Sea - Cube Book

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CUBE books have just got bigger and with a topic as vast as The Sea and pages that open like windows on a subject that has fascinated man since time began, the new format couldn’t have come at a better time.

Divided into 18 chapters, The Sea leaves absolutely nothing uncovered. From Coasts and Shorelines to Coral Gardens, from The Fury of Nature to Pearls in the Blue (and a whole lot more besides), it’s all here in glorious colour, captured by some of the world’s top photographers.

In fact, some images are quite extraordinary. In Seas of Ice for example, a lone Weddel Seal has been captured swimming in Antarctic waters, seemingly through a vortex of foam. A masterful shot or a digitally manipulated masterpiece? Either way, it puts the art into photography and produces an image that is guaranteed to catch the eye.

Similarly, the Italian resort of Portofino, which must have been photographed a thousand times or more from the exact same spot, is presented in a completely different way – not once, but twice. In the first instance, the famous waterfront is there but centre-stage is a simple fishing boat; in the second, an aerial shot of the entire Portofino Promontory puts it firmly in geographical perspective.

And in The Giants of the Sea, there is a remarkable image of a great white shark successfully preying on seals off the coast of South Africa.

It’s images such as these (and there are a great many of them) that make The Sea such a beautiful and fascinating book. However, with digital photography in the ascendancy, I would have liked some information on the techniques used to obtain them and whether, in fact, any have been digitally manipulated – not a word I like as it somehow smacks of deceit, however good the result.

On the other hand, a preface providing a logical discussion on the themes of each chapter, takes into account the historical, biological, anthropological and artististic arguments linked to man’s relationship with the sea.

The Sea is though, primarily a photographic record of the seas and oceans of the world and everything pertaining to them and as such, is a joy to behold. But don’t take my word for it – take a look for yourselves. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.