Book Review: Mount Diablo: The Extraordinary Life and Landscapes of a California Treasure

by on October 01, 2011

 
 

 

Photos by Stephen Joseph, text by Linda Rimac Colberg, Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, 2010, 266 pages, $50.

Photographer Stephen Joseph has amassed a wide-ranging body of work–from a project to photograph Bay Area farms (see his photos in this issue) to images of John Muir’s plant specimens (on display at the Oakland Museum).

But the core of his work is in this Diablo book. To call this a coffee table book is an understatement. The book is huge, and Joseph’s rich panoramas splash across spread after spread. (One almost wishes for fewer images–by the end, I had trouble recalling favorites.)

The images range from sprawling portraits of Diablo to intimate views of favorite trees, waterfalls, and more. Perhaps most remarkable is how rarely Joseph shows evidence of human presence. That’s partly testament to the amount of land preserved here. But there’s no doubt that Joseph takes pains to keep nearby suburbia from intruding.

Yes, it’s idealization, but for a worthy ideal. The large and dramatic images will make you want to be where he stood. As soon as possible.

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