The Pencil of Nature.
Photographs by Manabu Miyazaki.
Nohara Co Ltd/Izu Photo Museum,
168 pp., 170 color illustrations, 6¾x9¾".
A must-have for all lovers of classic nature photography. Just as French scientist Etienne-Jules Marey first invented a photographic gun to shoot images of flying birds in rapid sequence, so too have many other photographers drawn analogies between hunting and shooting a camera. The title takes its name from a publication by the British photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877). In the original Pencil of Nature, widely considered the first photo book, Talbot referred to photography as a way of taking portraits that are self- 'drawn' in light. For Manabu Miyazaki, known in his native Japan as 'the photojournalist of the natural world,' images of uncannily humanistic animals act as mirrors of contemporary society grown distant from nature.
In Miyazaki's case, however, it is the animals themselves who do the shooting. Unmanned cameras, equipped with infrared sensors, shine a spotlight on wild animals hidden by the veil of the forest - when animals trip a sensor, they trigger the camera lens, resulting in breathtaking, unstaged shots. Miyazaki's unusual photographic equipment, documented in a fascinating photographic index, is an assemblage of various everyday items and parts - what Claude Levi-Strauss called a 'bricolage.' Examples include a waterproof strobe encased in PVC piping, a camera with a homemade electrical coil to prevent the fogging of the lens, and a waterproof cover for an infrared sensor made from a Tupperware container.