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AN EARLY MASTER'S PHOTOS OF THE ADIRONDACKS

EARLY DAYS IN THE ADIRONDACKS:
The Photographs of Seneca Ray Stoddard
By Jeanne Winston Adler
Abrams
178 pages, $39.95

Color photographs may delight the eye, but black-and-white images done well can truly delight the heart.

Perhaps it's because scenery stripped of its chromatic trappings can open vistas of meaning too easily overlooked; whatever the reason, Seneca Ray Stoddard's 19th century images of the Adirondacks are a stunning case in point.

Lovingly reproduced, they muster 112 strong in this beautiful display volume. Adler's text provides a well-reasoned and thoughtful analysis, adding the depth of context to the pictures.

Seneca Ray Stoddard -- named for the Roman orator, not the Indian nation -- worked mostly in the latter half of the last century, and his work offers both historic and artistic measures of the park area. The images are gorgeous. Stoddard is analyzed here as a master of American luminism, of a school of painting and photography (in an era when the distinction often blurred) fascinated with the interplay of light and landscape.

One could wish that the text be tied a little more closely to the progression of photographs, but that's a minor flaw. This one's a winner, for those who love the Adirondacks as well as those who love the art of photography.