Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle
JOE MAC Hudspeth Jr has been photographing wildlife in its natural
habitat for many years; in particular, in the wetlands of the
southern states of North America. In the Southern Wild
is the result; a compilation of images - 150 in all - that are
a visual feast.
But are such images easily come by? The answer, of course, is
no, as Hudspeth himself explains in the preface. It's all about
patience, timing (how does 5.50am grab you?), meticulous planning
and the right kind of equipment.
The results, however, speak for themselves. Not only are the
images aesthetically pleasing, but a testament to the importance
of the world's vanishing wetlands and the rich diversity of life
they sustain in the great ecological scheme of things.
So, what do we have? There are, as you might expect, ducks in
abundance - mallards, pintails, mottled ducks, gadwalls and wood
ducks. But it's the wood duck that takes centre stage.
Hudspeth who, by his own admission, favours this colourful water
bird, has captured it in all its glory - from ducklings in duck
weed (what else!) to adults preening. There's even a cluch of
wood duck eggs. But my favourite is the female nesting in a tree
cavity - not at all, as you would expect.
Birds, perhaps not surprisingly, form the bulk of the images
- egrets, sandpipers, herons, white pelicans; there's even a scarlet
tanager and a prothonatary warbler - all beautifully photographed.
Bird lovers will simply adore it.
It would, though, be remiss to omit other life forms, so expect
white- tailed deer, alligators, water snakes, butterflies and
spiders complete with prey - everything, in fact, that makes its
home in the southern wild.
A beautiful book, In the Southern Wild is certain to
give lasting pleasure.