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Book Review - A captivating collection

Published:Sunday | March 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Robert Davis' aerial shot of Emancipation Square in Spanish Town, St Catherine. - Contributed photo

Title: Jamaica by Air -A Bird's Eye View of Paradise
Photographer/author: Robert Davis
Executive publisher: Aerial Photography Limited
Reviewer: Paul H. Williams

There is no doubt that Jamaica is naturally beautiful. Whether by foot, pedal or motor, its diverse, idyllic scenery is everywhere for all to see and embrace. But those who have the opportunity to fly over or hover about this island paradise will tell you the views from above are even more spectacular. Unfortunately, they can only keep the images of the mesmerising sights in their heads, unless they are as daring as ace photographer Robert Davis.

"Words can't describe the sensation of hanging out of a helicopter, held in by only a harness and a seatbelt, cruising 500 feet above the magnificent island of Jamaica. Although the wind in my face, sound of the turbine and the magic carpet ride can only be experienced, I have made it my mission to share the breathtaking vistas through every page of this book," Davis writes in his introduction.

Yes, every page is worth viewing. For on them are pictures of parts of Jamaica that some of us will never get the chance to see for ourselves. His lenses have captured scenes from the Negril lighthouse in the west to the one at Port Antonio in the east. From the rustic charms to the concrete jungles of St Catherine and the Corporate Area, the 147 pages of glossy photos have images that you will not be tired of looking at.

Majestic mountains, the bumpy-looking Cockpit Country, lush tropical forests, gorgeous gorges, caves and sinkholes, blue lagoons and natural pools, sparkling waterfalls, sluggish rivers, pristine wetlands and morasses are juxtaposed with foam-caressed coastlines, jagged cliffs, turquoise sea waters, enchanting islands and cays, sun-drenched beaches and bays.

Man-made structures

Our man-made structures are also well represented: castles, great houses, colourful cliff-side villas and cottages, quaint dwellings, trendy resorts and well-manicured golf courses, the urban sprawls of St Catherine, Kingston, St Andrew and St James, and superhighways. Even the shacks of Hellshire Beach and the containers at Kingston Wharves look flattering from the air. The shot of St Andrew's Emancipation Park is liberating, and from a distance the waters of Kingston Harbour seem clean.

Some of my personal favourites are the spreads across two pages that show the railway tracks that run atop a bridge of arches among the thick vegetation in the Bog Walk gorge, the undeveloped section of Negril's white-sand beaches, the snake-like YS River meandering through flat grasslands, the misty Blue Mountains, kayaking down St Ann's White River, Maiden Cay, the picturesque Port Antonio bay with Navy Island in the foreground, the bridge across the Rio Grande estuary, the St James coastline, the old Spanish Town square and the panoramic view of the Corporate Area.

Jamaica by Air - A Bird's Eye View of Paradise is a fantastic work by the management consultant and executive director of a consulting firm. Davis specialises in business planning, marketing and product development. This aviation enthusiast has been pursuing creative photography for the last 14 years.

In November 2008, he got the idea to photograph Jamaica from the air while hanging from a helicopter with no doors to obstruct the view below, and to publish a book to share the photos with the world. It took him 14 flights, in a total of eight hours, within a year to get the project done. The book was launched December last year. It is ideal as a gift and coffee-table piece, and for all students of geography.