Copyright Massimo Vitali 2011 published by Steidl
Massimo Vitali’s Natural Habitats was one of the larger photobooks in overall size and mass published by Steidl in 2010, which is a nice match up with the large format photographs that Vitali works with.
I had access to inspect some of Vitali press images, two of which I included below, and it appears to me that the photographic plates within the book are just a tad bit more desaturated in color. The color management and transition from film negative to the pre-press digital file and four (five, six?) printing plates and finally within the limits of the printing press operations is slippery, during which many color, contrast, hue and density minor drifts can accumulate. As well as where the photographer pushes and pulls the image to achieve their desired results, as each of these steps can be an opportunity as well as a challenge.
Color management is where some of the larger photobook publishers like Steidl can shine, as they can chose printers and presses which are best suited to successfully manage these tasks. Especially for the nuances that are particular to exceptional photobook publishing.
In some cases, such as with Steidl, the publisher may allow the photographer to be “on-press” during the book’s production press run. Thus creates an opportunity to make some additional “creative” tweaks during the interaction of the press man and photographer while the sheets/signatures (multiple pages) are being printed. I suspect that this is the case with this exception photobook, as this photobook probably looks very much like what Vitali is envisioning.
The hardcover book is wide, heavy and expansive, with a nice dust cover. The binding permits a lay-flat reading experience, while the photographs have sufficient margins and there is no content lost in the gutter. The large photographic plates and wonderful printing make this body a work a delight to read.