The raison d'ĂȘtre of this blog is to review quality books, music, photography and other content that is seldom brought to our attention by the mainstream media.

The title EV+1 is photographic jargon for Exposure Value plus 1: increasing exposure by one stop from the metered value. Photographers use exposure compensation in order to obtain a correct exposure, when the light meter's averaged reading would be incorrect. Like a photographer allowing an extra stop of light to reach the film, I hope to shed a little light on a few under-appreciated gems.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Maurice Lye: Only God Can Make a Tree

If I were to choose one word to describe this book containing twenty-five examples of Maurice Lye's photography, it would be charm.

Maurice has stated: I enjoy and respect the many ways people create, beautify or arrange their surroundings, the passion, love and sometimes a bit of madness which goes into many of the subjects in this book. All the photographs were taken as the scene presented itself, nothing was manipulated or rearranged, the random coincidences are just as interesting. 1

He has described himself as a scavenger of images. One reason why I am so receptive to his work is that he sees things that I feel I would never have noticed, without his help. His exacting eye pays great attention to every detail of composition, all elements being deliberately and precisely placed within the frame.

The book's images, dating from 1979 to 2007, provide a sympathetic and sometimes humorous portrayal of New Zealand emblems found in suburbs and country towns. This is humble subject matter, but material that causes us to smile with immediate recognition; material captured with quiet affection, yet never lapsing into clichĂ© or sentimentality.

The photos tend towards the minimalist (Holiday House, Arthur's Pass | 1979 – a detail of which is on the cover), the simplicity of the images lending a restrained beauty, which makes them all the more mesmerising. Subjects range from old South Island holiday houses, to a Santa Parade, a Vintage Machinery Show, a roadside bench, a concrete fawn and a Knitted Nativity shop window display.

Having seen this small, but enticing sample of Maurice's work from the last three decades, I'm hoping that another book will not be too far away.

Only God Can Make a Tree
can be bought from Maurice for $40 plus p&p and would make a great Christmas gift; he can be contacted via his website:, which displays an informative sampling of his work.

Photos: 1. Daisy, Kaikura | 2003; 2. Christmas parade, float, Christchurch | 1987. (Photos © Maurice Lye)

Copyright © Richard Smallfield 2011

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