The Essential Africa
Michael Poliza’s extraordinary photographs offer new perspectives on ageless Africa.
I have been lucky enough to travel on two safaris in Africa – the first some thirty years ago and the second last year. Both times I felt an exhilarating connection with the wild places and wildlife of the continent – and experienced that singular sensation of being a guest in the home of the elephant, lion, giraffe and wildebeest.
Michael Poliza’s extraordinary photography book, “The Essential Africa,” powerfully brought back that feeling and transported me to that Africa – and revealed the essence of it in a way that I had only dimly perceived before.
Poliza’s art is to present a new perspective on Africa’s ageless landscapes and denizens. One outstanding example is the second spread in the book, which presents an aerial shot of eight elephants moving through the tall golden-red grass of autumn in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Seen from afar, the tawny grass lined with the tunnel-trails of elephants almost looks like a close-up of a lion’s face – until you see the elephants charging from the left. Your perspective dips and changes as you apprehend the march of the elephants, and the way their plunging path intersects with the trails of their predecessors. The photo has an amazing grace and energy and presents a quintessential African scene in a way I’d never seen before.
As do so many of the images in this beautiful book – a close-up of yellow-billed oxpeckers cleaning a buffalo’s nose; an eye-level stare straight into the golden pupils of a young male lion; a saddle-billed stork taking flight off a lagoon, its feet trailing a stream of black droplets; a nostril-level view of a plant-munching hippo; an especially prehistoric-looking rhino on a beach; a “Where’s Waldo” shot of hundreds of pink flamingoes; a sole springbok among the undulating dunes of the Namib Desert; a lion couple roaring as they mate.
Poliza’s 85 images, set in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya, vividly present a fresh appreciation of the colors, patterns and textures of Africa – and of the wild soul, symmetry and surprise at the heart of the continent.
[The Essential Africa, photographs by Michael Poliza, published by teNeues Publishing Group; copyright 2007 by Michael Poliza and teNeues Verlag; hardcover, 184 pages; $35.]
Here is a selection of Adventure Collection member trips to Africa:
Backroads: South Africa Family Multisport
Bushtracks Expeditions: Botswana, Zambia & South Africa
Geographic Expeditions: Wilds of Botswana
Lindblad Expeditions: An Epic Voyage to the Indian Ocean
Micato Safaris: The Heart of Kenya and Tanzania
Natural Habitat Adventures: The Best of Namibia Safari