A new coffee table book from Indiana University Press is a visual feast, and readers should savor each image rather than rushing through the work.

“Indiana Across the Land” (cover pictured) offers panoramic photos from Michigan City to Madison. The 140-plus images are primarily of out-of-the-way places that give the Hoosier state character. These are landscape portraits, not travelogue photos of famous Indiana sites.

The photographers are Lee Mandrell and DeeDee Niederhouse-Mandrell. Niederhouse-Mandrell is principal photographer for the Ray Skillman Corp. This Johnson County connection might help explain why the Atterbury Fish and Wildlife Area shows up in 17 images, including the cover.

Other popular subjects are state parks, caves, waterfalls and covered bridges. One of the most arresting images is of the covered bridge at Cataract Falls. The photo is taken at night. A light inside the bridge offers some soft illumination, but it’s the night sky that really catches the eye. Hundreds of stars and the Milky Way are visible, giving the image an almost magical air.

In an essay at the end of the book, Niederhouse-Mandrell offers her thoughts about the choice of subjects. They deliberately sought to portray the Hoosier landscape as far more than flat, boring fields. She writes:

“Coming from California, I have to admit I thought the same way. When I first came to Indiana I fell in love with the farms, barns and cornfields. … After being here a while I discovered that Indiana had another personality showing in places like Brown County and Turkey Run state parks. These wilderness landscapes were nothing I had ever seen and certainly a contrast to the farmlands throughout the state.”

In his essay, Mandrell talks about the technical aspects of taking panorama photographs. The lengths that the couple go to just to take a photo and then polish it on the computer is significant, making the artistry all the more impressive.

He concludes: “It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, but the results speak for themselves.”

And they certainly do. The images are luxurious, with colors so rich the scenes seem almost alive. But is the detail and crispness of the images that ultimately set them apart. It’s why readers should linger over each photo.

Rich Gotshall is a retired journalist and Franklin resident. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.


Title: Indiana Across the Land

Authors: Lee Mandrell and DeeDee Niederhouse-Mandrell

Pages: 236

Price: $35

Publisher: Indiana University Press

Collegiate pups featured

“Campus Canines” ($20) is a collection of submitted photos of dogs on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington.

Indiana University Press invited IU students, alumni and fans to submit photos of their precious pooches displaying their campus flair. The 150 photographs in the book show a variety of breeds and costumes and offer dog’s-level views of several well-known campus locations.

Some of the photos, such as a shepherd with oversized sunglasses and an IU scarf, are just plain fun. Others show a real sense of artistry in their composition.

Overall, this is a fun book for both IU fans and dog lovers.