The hidden--and perhaps doomed--beauty of an American Eden shines forth in this magnificent coffee-table collection of photographs.
Worried that the dominant perception of the Florida Everglades is of a flat, monotonous swamp, the author--a lawyer, photographer and amateur naturalist--sets out to reveal the area’s visual riches. Curzon succeeds marvelously by turning an artist's eye, aided by a superb photographic technique, on varied landscapes, flora and wildlife. He gives us stirring vistas: sunsets framed by blood-red storm clouds; expanses of mist-shrouded marsh and spindly pines, as delicately lined and shaded as a Chinese watercolor; lush groves of giant cypress trees that vault into the air like living cathedrals. But he also paints fascinating miniatures: a single dewdrop on a cypress needle, a tiny white crab spider lying in wait on a lavender petal, a close-up of a panther lewdly licking its chops. Curzon's spare text sketches in the region's ecology and natural history and decries the overdevelopment that increasingly deprives the Everglades of the water it needs (and thus threatens with extinction the habitats and creatures he photographs.) But the book's educational and polemical impulses never elbow aside its aesthetics. Curzon has an extraordinary ability to capture color and ambient light, from the subtly chiaroscuroed pink plumage of a roseate spoonbill to the molten-silver carapace of an alligator swimming in the sunshine to the bright, flat patches of primary pigments that make a coral snake look a bit like a Mondrian painting. Many of his images--the dusky vortexes of a coiled rattlesnake, the brilliant emerald eye staring from a cormorant’s lurid orange face--are as fascinating for their inventive compositions as for their documentary value. By giving us a visceral sense of the treasures that could be lost, each of these pictures is worth a thousand words and more of environmentalist pleading.
A radiant panorama of the Everglades that's both a feast for the eyes and a prod to the conscience.