Bay Nature magazineFall 2011


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

October 1, 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.

About the Author

Dan was editor of Bay Nature from 2004 until 2013, when he left to work for SF-based Stamen Design. He is now executive director of GreenInfo Network, a nonprofit mapmaking organization. A onetime professional cabinetmaker, he considers himself a lifelong maker of things and teller of stories. Dan has been working at the intersection of journalism and technology since, at age 16, he began learning reporting, page layout, and database design. His enduring interest in environmental issues crystallized into a career path in 1998 when he assisted former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass in a cross-disciplinary nature writing and ecology course at UC Berkeley, from which Dan received a Masters in English literature. In 1999, he became Associate Editor of Terrain, the erstwhile quarterly magazine of Berkeley's Ecology Center. In addition to editing and art-directing Bay Nature magazine, he was also Bay Nature’s chief technology strategist, fixer of broken things, and designer of databases and fancy spreadsheets. And he was even known to leave the office and actually hike outdoors.

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