Review: May 8, 2010 Book captures W.Va.'s beauty, from simple to spectacular By Rick Steelhammer Staff writer CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With untold thousands of photos in magazines, newspapers, tourism brochures and coffee table books -- including more than 350 cover shots -- you'd think photographer Steve Shaluta would be running out of striking West Virginia images to capture. But you'd be wrong. Shaluta has teamed up with Berkeley Springs writer and humorist Jeanne Mozier to create "West Virginia Beauty: Familiar & Rare," a lovingly illustrated, 124-page salute to the people, places, critters and things that contribute to the state's rugged good looks. Shaluta, a photographer for the West Virginia Division of Commerce, is probably best known for producing numerous jaw-dropping outdoor and nature scenes for Wonderful West Virginia magazine. He and Mozier, the author of "Way Out in West Virginia," a guidebook to the state's offbeat attractions, collaborated on a previous coffee table book, "Wonders of West Virginia." As the first part of its title suggests, their new work, just released by Quarrier Press, covers a number of familiar outdoor scenes, ranging from Dolly Sods and Seneca Rocks to the Glade Creek Mill at Babcock State Park and the view of Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights. Other familiar scenes are not iconic landscapes, but such everyday subjects as a beaver working in a pond or the symmetry of logs stacked in a series of log truck trailers. West Virginia rarities showcased in the book include a close-up look at a tiny jumping spider from Shaluta's backyard deck. Seen up close and personal, the harmless eight-eyed, green-pincered bug looks like an alien with an attitude. My favorite photos include a shot of a bluebird perched atop the business end of a cannon at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. The bird's mate is nesting inside the barrel of the Civil War artillery piece. Other memorable images include a shot of an early snow mixing with fall colors along the Highland Scenic Highway in Pocahontas County, a snowboarder catching air high over Shaluta's Canaan Valley vantage point, and an osprey at Stonewall Jackson Lake returning to its nest and waiting mate with dinner -- a large fish -- in its talons. Shaluta said he waited about four hours to capture the osprey scene. "I knew the osprey would be back with food eventually, because you could hear her babies in the nest," he said. Before the published photo was taken, the fish-bearing osprey landed several times at a nearby snag. "She'd land away from the nest and call out to her fledglings," Shaluta said. "I learned later that she was trying to coax her young birds into flying." West Virginia Beauty: Familiar & Rare is available at book stores across the state, or may be ordered by phone from West Virginia Book Co. at 304-342-1848 or 888-982-7472.