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Final EditThe image we rescued from the cutting room floor.

Final Edit Photographer Illustrations editor Bruce McElfresh describes what leads to choosing information over visual impact.



Cut It?
“This photo was in the final selects and in the running for the layout until the 11th hour,” says illustrations editor Bruce McElfresh. “But when it got down to making a choice, we thought that the scale of the project made it important to get images of the plants and habitat inside this grand room. Part of the theory behind our story is how plants have managed through the eons to entice animal life to help fertilize them. Now we’ve come almost full circle where man is primarily the one to propagate these plants and carry them all around the world. I wanted to stress visually that this is more than a greenhouse. It’s a contained ecosystem. The photo we ultimately chose for the article (NGM, July 2002, pg. 120-1)accomplishes that.”

Or Keep It?
“We always liked this picture,” McElfresh continues. “It had an eerie otherworldly look to it that captured our imagination. You could almost see it as a spacecraft. That played a part in my pushing it and drove it a long way to be chosen for Final Edit.”


Final Edit

Photograph by Jonathan Blair

Plant-it Earth

E.T. doesn’t live here, nor do the Jetsons. Instead, more earthly beings dwell under these domes in Cornwall, England, home to the Eden Project. A public botanical garden that advocates better stewardship of the Earth, the Eden Project houses 135,000 plants in biomes ranging from rain forests to deserts and includes the world’s largest greenhouse. For photographer Jonathan Blair, the conservatory—transformed to an eerie green by light filters from a Geographic TV crew—carries the message that “humans control the future of flowering plants, and their future does not look as good as their past.”

Learn more about the feature story this photo was taken for.  Blair Thumbnail Zoom In on more images by Jonathan Blair.




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