Picks and Pans Review: High on New York

updated 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

photographs by Peter B. Kaplan

When Kaplan, now 46, was a boy, he was afflicted with such acrophobia that he couldn't even follow his pals over a railroad trestle. That was a problem he has overcome with a vengeance, having taken up skydiving and become a photographer who specializes in making pictures of tall structures, usually from the top down. His marriage ceremony last year was on a platform six floors above the observation deck on the Empire State Building's 86th floor. (He has had only one height-related accident during his photography career: He broke an arm when he fell off a chair while shooting a wedding.) This book offers 84 color shots taken from the upper strata of New York City, including a spectacular end-to-end image of Central Park photographed from a helicopter and another looking straight down the side of one of the World Trade Center towers. Kaplan has a knack for creating perspective by focusing on small architectural details, such as a niche at the top of the AT&T Building, or on people, such as a painter atop the Queensboro Bridge. His photographs never seem to be merely pictures of structures; they always suggest a relationship between the objects and their surroundings. It seems a lapse of taste to include a photo of a workman dropping his pants on the top of the World Trade Center to moon Manhattan, as if this would be amusing to anyone older than 13. But Kaplan is well served by his sense of bravado and his technical expertise; he has, among other things, concocted ways to attach cameras to long poles to provide unique angles. He can even make the skyscrapers he photographs seem almost cozy as well as exciting. (Abrams, $24.95)

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