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Published July 05, 2010, 01:06 PM

A Picture Perfect City

When I stumbled upon Dennis O’Hara’s new photography book, “Picture Duluth: Photographs of the Zenith City,” I’d been back in the Midwest for three days after a three week trip to New York City. That time in Manhattan bombarded me with mind-boggling sight-scapes and left me yearning for the vast skyscrapers and sweeping vistas of the Hudson and the East Rivers I’d left behind.

By: Lindsy O'Brien, Living North

When I stumbled upon Dennis O’Hara’s new photography book, “Picture Duluth:

Photographs of the Zenith City,” I’d been back in the Midwest for three days after a three week trip to New York City. That time in Manhattan bombarded me with mind-boggling sight-scapes and left me yearning for the

vast skyscrapers and sweeping vistas of the Hudson and the East Rivers I’d left behind.

Picking up O’Hara’s book dropped me down to Earth with a thud and reminded me exactly why so many of us choose to make Duluth our home. His stunning photography digs into every nook and cranny of the Duluth we love: a frosting of snow on Chester Creek, a rose-hued sunrise over Minnesota Point, the Hotel Duluth in all its splendor and, of course, Lake Superior, the grand blue lady herself.

O’Hara captures beautifully the harmony between city and nature that exists here in Duluth. As he writes in his preface: “Duluth is a unique place where land, sea, and sky meet together on a stage of ever interacting climate, commerce, and people.”

O’Hara’s photography puts a finger on the essence of this place that is so hard to describe but is so obvious to the area’s inhabitants and visitors. His photographic composition fills the canvas of his shots, and his pictures are crisp, utilizing the full spectrum of color. The images are gorgeous but realistic.

Looking at an O’Hara photograph of the Aerial Lift Bridge evokes the same emotion as standing beneath it. Even the grain elevators have their own stark majesty when framed by a perceptive lens. As a born and bred

Duluthian, I was excited to learn that there are Tiffany windows in the First Presbyterian Church and the Union Depot, a discovery that brought back a glimmer of the New York I’d so recently left behind.

Of course, I can’t discuss a Duluth photography book without bringing up Anita Zager’s future classic, “Duluth: Gem of the Freshwater Sea.” Like O’Hara, Zager’s book expresses the heart of Duluth through brilliant photographs – in this case, from a variety of local photographers rather than just one. Zager’s book takes it a step further and pairs the photos with brief descriptions and prose about the landmarks Duluthian’s love so well and includes a few surprises. I run on Barker’s Island in Superior

regularly, yet I’ve never paid attention to the “Seamen of the Great Lakes” statue there until I saw it highlighted in Zager’s book, complete

with a photo by Duluth’s Dudley Edmondson.

Both O’Hara and Zager’s books encapsulate a place and way of life dear to many of us. For me, returning to the Midwest after nearly a month away, coming across both of these books was like unfolding love letters from the

city I have called home for nearly my entire life. They are a great reminder of why we choose to live here, and they are perfect gifts

to pass on to visitors, friends and family who have left the region – or to anyone who likes to see the story of a place told through the eyes

(or lenses) of those who love it.

"Picture Duluth: Photographs of the Zenith City"

Publisher: x-communication

By Dennis O’Hara

$19.95

"Duluth: Gem of the Freshwater Sea"

Publisher: Adventure Publication

By Anita Zager

$16.95

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