Monday, April 14, 2014

To Die For

  by Carol

I love to take landscapes of unique places

I have said many times that I love photography because it prolongs the enjoyment of the beautiful moments of my life. But I also love photography because it lets me experience places in this world that I will never see. Yesterday I found myself an hour early for a meeting, so I stopped in at the local library and poked around the arts and photography sections. In preparation for an up-coming destination workshop my teacher had suggested purchasing a Galen Rowell filter. ( a graduated reverse neutral density filter, in case you're interested)  So I decided to find out who Galen Rowell was.

What a perfect hour ensued - an hour to warm the heart of any self-respecting landscape photographer! Galen was a very prolific "adventure photographer." He was a handsome, yet shy and appreciative hiker who traveled to the ends of the earth in pursuit of beauty. His stunning images drew in the likes of Tom Brokaw and the Dalai Lama as fans and eventually friends. He experienced the world as most of us will never get to see it. But he showed it to us - in books and galleries and magazines like National Geographic. Through mountaineering and exploration treks, he photographed the scenery, but he also photographed himself and his friends in frighteningly precarious positions that demonstrate how dedicated he was to having the full experience of a place and to making the perfect image of it.

Galen shot exotic cultures, unique landscapes and endangered animals, always with "visionary light and color." He climbed the peaks at Yosemite and the Himalayas. He boarded ice breaker ships to document the ice flow at sunrise, and stayed in monasteries in Tibet. He slept in the deserts to capture awakening prairie dogs, and dove deep into the sea.

Sadly and ironically, after all of these experiences, he and his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell, a naturalist in her own right,  lost their dynamic lives when an hour flight in a small plane  hopping them home to California crashed into the sea in 2002. They were only 64 years old, but what a legacy they left us! I am hoping that writing about him here will encourage you to look at his portfolio - it's really not to be missed.

"Rowell was someone who both traveled light, and traveled with the light. His faith in the revelatory powers of light as it appears on film coincided with a deep conviction in the power of images to reflect the aspirations of the human spirit." (Andy Grundberg from Galen Rowell, Light Traveler)  (He went) "to the last great, wild places in the world to be absorbed by their grace and grandeur." (He created) photographs "as timeless, as stunning and as powerful as nature itself." ( Tom Brokaw)

Originally I had 3 of Rowell's images posted here, with attribution, and a link to more.  After reading the copyright policies on his work, I have decided not to post them. But please, celebrate Earth Day by taking a look yourself .......








9 comments:

Katie said...

i've read about galen rowell before, and love his work. he lived the life that i truly want to live. wonderful post and tribute to one of the world's best photographers, carol.

Dotti said...

I read the link you shared and he was truly an amazing photographer and adventurer! Soaring to heights and achieving experiences few of us dream of. Thanks so much for sharing. And I want to know more about that Galen Rowell filter!

cheryl Crotty said...

I have loved Galen Rowell since I first started photography...I have all his books and when we went to the Eastern Sierra mountains we visited his gallery...I don't own many photographs by other photographers...but while there we bought a hug Galen Rowell in a most beautiful frame and had it shipped home...it has a place of honor in my living room...and a special light for night when I want to light the scene up...
His wife was a pilot in her own right but the day they died she was not piloting that plane...Flying South was written by Barbara Rowell... it is a beautiful book and I have given it to many people, even non-photographers...She was a brilliant, smart and progressive woman and it's about her journey...
This was a lovely post...and I'm so glad so many are finding Galen...his kids wrote a wonderful retrospective of him...you might enjoy that also...
Thanks for reminding me again of one who lead me into the big outdoors.

Kim Stevens said...

What an incredible dream to be able to go to and see those places, let alone photograph them. I read the link and looked at his gallery...stunning images to be sure. I only wish time and money were that liquid to be able to adventure around the world like that. Thanks for introducing me to someone I hadn't know about.

Barb said...

How interesting. I think when I read of an untimely death such as theirs that I'm happy they lived the time given to them so fully - and that they left behind memories for all to enjoy.

Carol said...

So glad you were interested. And Cheryl - I love that you know about him! Please post a picture of your living room photograph. I would love to see which one you have! Also -I am a big reader - and I would love to read Barbara Rowell's book. Thanks so much for letting me know about it.

Dotti - the reverse graduated density filter is darkened in the middle and lighter top and bottom. It's supposed to help tame the brights in sunrises and sunsets. Mine arrived today. I can't wait to try it.

Cathy said...

Well I had never heard of him, so this was so interesting. Great photo too.

seabluelens said...

He was an amazing and inspiring photographer. I became acquainted with his work through Outdoor Photographer magazine, which I subscribed to for many years. It was such a shock when he and his wife died, like losing a friend though of course I never knew him personally. I enjoyed reading about your discovery of his photography.

kelly said...

wow carol! this is so neat. i always love reading about the lives of famous photographers. what an amazing story and spectacular photographs!

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