Stone Offerings: Machu Picchu's Terraces of Enlightenment

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9780981881201: Stone Offerings: Machu Picchu's Terraces of Enlightenment

Over 100 stunning color photographs of Machu Picchu taken at both the June and December solstices by architectural photographer Mike Torrey. With hardly any visitors evident, these photographs appraise the artistry of the man-made celebrating the natural, as well as the mystery of how, why, when this magical place was constructed. Includes a photographic map of site plus points of interest descriptions, and a complete index of photographs. Marie Arana's passionate introduction appears in both English and Spanish and illuminates the inspirational essence of this wonder-of-the-world. Author's Note describes how photographer created images without showing all the visitors.

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Review:

Steps carved from huge rocks, boulders used for the sides of buildings, windows precisely aligned to capture the first rays of the solstice sun, and other amazing features of Peru's Machu Picchu are captured in this collection of Torrey's detailed photographs. An architectural photographer, Torrey finds that the ancient Incan city "framed the implicit harmony between nature and humans... [forming] an underlying skeleton that signifies our interconnectedness. " Approximately 120 pages of photographs from the "Ancient Peak," sometimes called the Lost City of the Incas, will captivate armchair adventurers and spur travelers' imagination. What is known of the city's history is related in the introduction: built in the 15th century, abandoned not long after, "lost" for several centuries, and then rediscovered (and plundered) in the 19th century. To capture the city drenched in sunlight and etched in fog, Torrey visited Machu Picchu at the summer and winter solstices. Dazzling views of stone terraces against the green mountainsides reveal the intricate, mortarless construction of each, built from thousands of stones carried and set by hand. Photo captions are spare and far between, but Torrey concludes with a useful long shot labeling the site's points of interest. --Publishers Weekly, June 15, 2009

Accomplished architectural photographer Torrey assembles over 100 color photographs of the stone terraces of Machu Picchu, all carefully executed in reasonably good light over the course of a few days during two trips to the site, one during the summer solstice and a subsequent visit during the winter solstice. Torrey manages to capture a sense of solitude in a fairly cohesive photo-essay with images ranging from majestic views to haunting stone formations no small feat given the number of people who swarm to this popular tourist spot. Marie Arana (Lima Nights) provides a worthwhile introduction to Machu Picchu in both English and Spanish. In reading the text and looking through the photographs, however, one longs for greater substance, perhaps a little more insight into the lives of those who once peopled this sacred place. It would have been helpful, at a bare minimum, for each of the photographs to be captioned. Still, this can be recommended as a solid introduction to Machu Picchu. --architectural photographer

This finely crafted book is far more than just a coffee-table book or glossy eye candy. Although, for certain it belongs to be out where it can be seen and lovingly caressed by the eye. For readers who cannot make the trek 50 miles northwest of Cusco, Peru, "Stone Offerings" is the next-best thing. Through the evocative photographs one can almost feel the near-constant cloudy mists that swirl overhead, smell the mountain flowers, and hear the ancient chants rebounding off the perfectly shaped and polished blocks. --architectural photographer

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