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Friday, 24 September 2010


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Excellent post, thanks for writing about this guy. In a general sense he's doing street photography/portraiture as in documenting life as it happens, except his habitat is the wildlife rather than streets and his subjects are big mammals!

I am a huge fan of Brandt's work. I've seen people criticize his methods, but I've always favored result over method, and his work is always elegant, rich, and thoughtful. Thanks for this very fine writeup, and for offering me a new name to look up (Beard).

Freelensing by Brandt seems the most likely option if no digital trickery is applied but imaging trying to get that right when you're that close the lion.

What are we going to photograph when it's all gone, slag heaps?

Regarding Nick Brandt's rumored unmount-the-lens technique: when this was being discussed a few years ago I actually whipped out the Pentax 67 to try it. Turns out it works pretty well, because the really shallow mounts of the P67 lenses relative to the wide opening let you move the lens quite a bit without pulling the lens out too far (thus letting in light from the edges and losing infinity). Or something like that. Anyway, there's an example here:


Of course, after trying it once I can't say I've used the technique again... I've got T/S lenses for that.


Wow, the Brandt photos look amazing and I can't wait to order Brandt's book.
There is something unreal about the lion photo though with the manes blurred but the face in sharp focus -- how has he achieved this effect?

"colorful social history" , kind of like calling the ocean damp. You might want to check out this.

More Peter Beard , less 1965.

I love the lion image its a spectacle in pride and the beauty of power and self confidence. Although I´m not really a fan of his work it is true that his images are a breath of fresh air from all those long lens colour images we continually see. Anyhow any kind of photography book which reminds us how their time is running out thanks to our greed is positive idea.
It´s beyond me the abominable fascination which some "humans" have in hunting and collecting dead animals as trophies. I would certainly be interested to see how they felt if their weapons were turned on them and punished with the same inequity they enjoy practicing on wild animals.

I own A Shadow Falls and it's a superb book. The images are dramatic and iconic. More than wildlife photography, more like animal portraits.

With the prevalence of the digital "I can do it too" attitude held by the tyros, a dedicated photographer can't develop a technique, voice, or style without it immediately being deconstructed and emulated by a large number of people. Case and point: Jill Greenberg lighting. How the arrangement of a few lights could be analyzed on blogs and forums to a point that exceeds the scrutinization of the Zapruder film is beyond me.

I recall the "mystery" surrounding the Atelier-Fresson process from my younger days, but I don't recall anyone over the past 100 years starting flame wars over their theories...

"The "game" in the title refers to is Africa's rôle as a playground for wealthy Europeans and Americans, going on Safari to casually massacre elephants and lions for trophies."

Evidently the game is still on. Perhaps someone should donate a copy of Beard's book to the jurors of this year's Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize:

Mike I'm glad to see Nick Brandt receive mention here. I've been a fan for a while and his work is amazing. These are not just animal photos but instead a total capture of mood and a complete respect for the majestic creatures he photographs. No one does it better IMO.

FYI: Nick Brandt wasn't satisfied with the printing quality of his two books mentioned above, so he just released a third, called: On This Earth, A Shadow Falls. It's a much larger format than the other two books, PLUS he supervised the printing. The result is one of the most stunning photography books I've every owned. The print quality is outstanding and the photos luminous. It's only available through his galleries. Details here: http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?Catalog=ZE223

I was fortunate enough to see an exhibition of some of Brandt's prints here in Melbourne, Australia. I don't care how he takes or prints his images. They are simply stunning, some of the best I have ever seen. The images in the book, while they are good, just do not have the impact of wall-sized prints. His work has inspired me to take more risks (though not by photographing big cats) in my work.

Who cares how an artist makes his art (except for copycats)? It's the result that counts. To see the huge prints in Young gallery in Brussels in 2006 was a great experience.

Oh Mike, it's Frans Lanting with an 's'.


I quickly read and missed "Animal" in the heading and immediately thought of the late Sam Haskins and his lesser-known black-and-white tome "African Images" published by Bodley Head in 1967. Haskins' graphic skills also reminded me of Saul Bass... but without digressing further, aren't Haskins' works worth an article?

Brandt's work is even more impressive when you see the real prints.
For me it's not important how Art has been created.

And Mike, it's Frans Lanting with an 's'. ;-)

Brandt has a new book out, only available through his galleries, sort of a greatest hits compilation from the first two books but with even more beautifully rendered and enlarged 300 line quadtone reproductions of the photos chosen, called aptly enough "On This Earth, a Shadow Falls". It is a simply stunning work, I find it of even greater emotional and aesthetic impact than its predecessors.


Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful review of Nick Brandt’s books. As much as I enjoy photography books, I purchase few new, On this Earth is one of those. Simply remarkable images, seemingly from the studio rather than the wild.


I really enjoyed your Paris photos; I see a certain kinship with Brandt’s.

I couldn't agree more with David L (2.38pm post).
We pause in wonder at a photo for a few minutes and then think - I need to replicate that.
No you don't. You need to find your own voice. Your own vision.

I remember seeing Brandt's A Shadow Falls book at Barnes and Noble. I had seen pictures from his earlier book in Lenswork magazine, and normally I find that I like, often even prefer, smaller pictures such as in that publication. However, with Brandt's pictures, bigger is better. I received a copy of A Shadow Falls as a gift last Christmas and have to agree that it is quite amazing

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