The Ten Best Photography Books of 2021 | Arts & Culture – Smithsonian

The Ten Best Photography Books of 2021 | Arts & Culture – Smithsonian

Illustration by Valerie Ruland-Schwartz

As we start to reemerge into this new world, for the photo team of Smithsonian magazine, it’s been interesting to take stock of the books some of our favorite photographers have released in 2021. From LA’s lowrider culture to birds to scenes of silence, the subjects have been all-over-the-world diverse. And the work, well—it is rich and compelling, beautiful and intense. There is something for everyone.

Birds by Tim Flach 

Red Splash Jacobin Pigeon. These pugnacious birds were named after the Jacobins, a French order of Dominican friars, who, like the pigeons, were known for their yawning hoods. This same order later lent its name to the Jacobin Club, the most influential political group of the 1789 French Revolution, but for a different reason—instead of wearing hoods, the group held its first seditious meetings in the basement of a Jacobin monastery in Paris.
 
From Birds by Tim Flach, copyright © Tim Flach.

Inca Tern. For these comical-looking birds, an exquisite handlebar mustache is more than a fashion statement—it’s an advertisement of good health. Like all other birds, these terns can only grow out their plumes while molting, an extremely energy-intensive process during which they sequentially replace all of the feathers on their bodies. This allows them to use the unique facial feathers to assess the fitness of prospective mates: since growing a pair of long ornamental feathers requires a surplus of food, birds with longer mustaches are better at feeding themselves and are therefore likely to be better at raising young.
From Birds by Tim Flach, copyright © Tim Flach.

Knobbed Hornbill. The breathtakingly beautiful bill of the knobbed hornbill is the result of colored pigments in the keratin coating. A bill is not a solid structure, but rather a hollow bony outgrowth of the skull sheathed in a thin layer of keratin—the same protein found in our fingernails. Like fingernails, this keratinous casing constantly regrows to heal nicks and scratches. Unlike us, birds can deposit colored pigments into the protein matrix as it grows.
From Birds by Tim Flach, copyright © Tim Flach.

Gentoo Penguins. While penguins may be flightless, they are well adapted for flying through the
water. Using its vestigial wings as paddles, its rear-set feet as propellers, and its stiffened tail feathers as rudders, the gentoo penguin can drive its torpedo-shaped body through the water at more than 22 miles (35 km) per hour—the fastest speed recorded by any swimming bird.
From Birds by Tim Flach, copyright © Tim Flach.

Red Bird of Paradise. Over the past twenty-three million years, the forty-two species of birds of paradise all diverged from a single, crow-like ancestor into the breathtaking variety of forms now found on New Guinea and the surrounding islands. This makes this family a textbook example of allopatric speciation: as different populations became geographically isolated from each other by tall mountain ranges or oceanic straits, different selective pressures and random genetic drift caused the various independent groups to evolve into distinct forms that could no longer …….

Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-ten-best-photography-books-of-2021-180979180/

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