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The Karakoram — Mountains of Pakistan

By Shiro Shirahata

 

Cloudcap, Seattle, 1990. 192 pages


“Shiro Shirahata, whose superb Nepal Himalaya appeared in 1983, is one of the world's great mountain photographers. The Karakoram will not disappoint those who know his earlier work. These marvelous photographs are beautifully reproduced. Their aesthetic beauty cannot be denied. My only criticism is that there is almost a complete lack of any element but rock and ice; no human figures, no flowers in the foreground. But with such perfect composition, such superb detail down to the smallest rock, this is a minor complaint. Even in the shadows, the viewer has no problem in seeing what is there. Sunset and sunrise pictures can be a surrealist trap. However, I have stood on the same spot as Shirahata and snapped Gasherbrum IV at sunset. His colors are identical to mine. His photographs are an accurate portrayal of what is there, caught by the eye of an artist. And—for the mountaineer, they are a goldmine for route planning. (…)
There is an 18-page section in which a small black-and-white copy of each photograph appears along with the name, altitude and data about the peaks and information about what went on when he took the picture, the exact spot where he stood and the season. Technical data includes the focal length of the lens and the exposure. The photographer finally devotes three pages telling about the 430 days he spent in the field from 1987 to 1989, about porter problems and how he accomplished his task. Despite the high price, this is a book to own and savor.”
H. Adams Carter, “American Alpine Journal” 1991,            p. 312-313

 

“This is a coffee-table book like few others on the subject of mountains, but I wouldn't want a coffee cup to get within 10 feet of this jewel. (…)
Japan's Shiro Shirahata is undeniably one of the world's foremost mountain photographers, with over 24 books to his credit. Numerous exhibitions of his work have been held, and in Hayakawa, Japan, the Shiro Shirahata Mountain Photography Museum features a permanent collection of his photographs. Shirahata is also an excellent mountaineer; some of his accomplishments include reaching 8000 meters on Makalu in the Nepal Himalaya, and ascents of Peak Communism in the Soviet Pamirs and Nevado Huascaran in Peru's Cordillera Blanca. (…)

The book features 101 selected photographs, each presented full or double page. All were taken with a 4 X 5 view camera, giving them a richness of texture and color that is unsurpassed. They are displayed simply and elegantly, without caption information. Only a small number in the bottom corner of each page is used to reference an entry in the text at the back of the book. There, the author gives the names of prominent peaks, lists photographic information, and gives a short anecdote about the particular area where the photograph was taken and his adventures getting the shot. Some readers may be annoyed by having to page back and forth from the photographs to the caption section, but many will agree that placing captions with these extraordinary photographs would dilute the viewing experience. (..)


The price will no doubt limit this volume to the homes of only the most dedicated mountain-photography connoisseurs, or hard-core alpinists looking for the best available visual reference on the climbing possibilities in Pakistan. Although there are many books containing good photography of the Nepal Himalaya, the same cannot be said for the Karakoram. Shirahata's spectacular collection of images will unquestionably establish itself as the cornerstone photographic record of this mountain range.”
Greg Horne, “Climbing” 1991, February/March,              No. 124,  p. 134-135

 


“Shiro Shirahata continues his odyssey of mountain photography with yet another large format book, following his earlier successes with The European Alps and Nepal Himalaya. Probably less known in the west is his four volume Beauty of South Korea. Indeed in Japan his work is so well known as to be something of an industry itself, with a Shiro Shirahata prize for mountain photography since l988, and a museum dedicated to his work near Mount Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture. (…)
This collection of 101 pictures traverses the Karakoram. It is the work of 1987-1989. during which he visited the Baltoro, Biafo, Hispar, Nanga Parbat and western areas, and the Hindu Kush and Hindu Raj. From thousands of 5 by 4 photos, this collection has been chosen, the rendering down of "430 days in the field" helped by the Yama Kei Publishers Co Ltd. It is an impressive effort and the completion of the larger project aimed perhaps at interpreting all the worlds great peaks in this grandiose style.”
Paul Nunn, “Mountain” 1991, November/December,            No. 142,  p. 43-44

 


 
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