Iceland

photographs by Eliot Porter, text by Jonathan Porter.Little, Brown/Bulfinch, $50.00. The Porters and their party went to Iceland intending to photograph the country’s lavish crop of lichens. Once there, they were inevitably seduced by glaciers, waterfalls, rocks, seascapes, hot springs, and the brilliant flowers that duplicate in miniature those of the south. They even found a birch grove, which seems in the photograph to be not only flourishing but extensive. Its precise extent is not reported, but a grove of any sort that cannot be seen through is a marvel on that virtually treeless island. Jonathan Porter’s text is unpretentiously efficient, placing emphasis on where the expedition went and what it observed while minimizing the melodramaticmisbehavior of its hired vehicles. Eliot Porter’s photographs, which occupy most of the book, are truly beautiful (as is to be expected) and accurately convey the slightly eerie look of a place where everything in sight is either very large or very small.