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The New YorkerWhile most wildlife photography tends to explain things -- showing how animals hunt, migrate, breed, and so on -- some photographers prefer a more unconventional approach. In Walter Schels's Animal Portraits, a cavalcade of goats, cats, primates, and others get the Avedon treatment, photographed in black-and-white and usually staring straight at the camera. It becomes hard not to read human character into the animals who "sit" for their portraits, when we see, for instance, the quizzical glance of a drooling cheetah, or the sedate, professorial pose of a bear.
If Schels creates portraits, the German photographer Pete Dine, in Animals on White, transforms his subjects into still-life, painstakingly shooting them in a portable all-white studio. The result highlights not character but form -- color, movement, and beauty. Dine has a taste for rare breeds like the Baldinger Tiger pig, the majestic Charolais bull, and the Przewalski horse, the wild Mongolian ancestor of the domestic horse.
No photographer turns animals into art more completely than Frans Lanting, whose remarkable Jungles represents two decades of work. Often heightening the animal kingdom's own visual flair, Lanting shows how, in closeup, a toucan's head becomes an abstract composition of circles and stripes. Most extraordinary of all, perhaps, is a photograph of macaws over a Peruvian river. Lanting shoots from a scaffold a hundred feet above the yellow-brown waters, and in the resulting image the birds no longer even seem three-dimensional, but look more like a design on a Japanese screen.(Leo Carey)