Galen's Light Will Shine On
As many of you have already come to learn, Galen Rowell and his wife and partner Barbara Cushman Rowell perished along with two other passengers in the crash of a small plane near their home in Bishop, California this past Sunday August 11th. Learning about their death that next morning, I've spent this past week thinking about this tragic happening and what Galen and his work have meant to me.
Galen's "Mountain Light" was one of the first books on nature photography I bought many years ago. I was and still am impressed by the dedication exuded by his writing and images. I know reading it was influential in my discovering nature photography as a means of conveying emotions and ideas. I only hope that one day I can achieve even a fraction of the success at doing so that he has been able to.
At about the time his plane went down last Sunday, I was on the trails near Paradise at Mt. Rainier photographing the sun rising above a meadow filled with wildflowers. To do so, I was making use of a variety of Galen Rowell Graduated Neutral Density filters. These are by far the most used filters I own. Galen's relentless striving to capture his vision made him a vocal advocate of Graduated ND filters. In part because of his efforts, I have a quality tool that can help me capture my own vision.
I never had an opportunity to meet Galen, something I regret not finding a way to do through one of his many workshops and lectures. I do have a set of videos Galen produced with Frans Lanting entitled "Creative Outdoor Photography" that conveys at least a sense of what it must have been like to have this learning experience in person. If you've enjoyed Galen's regular column in Outdoor Photographer as I have, these videos are highly recommended.
Many of you reading this probably have your own stories of how Galen has influenced you and improved your photography. By remembering and honoring what Galen worked to convey to all of us striving photographers, we can keep his "mountain light" shining.
I took the occasion to watch "Creative Outdoor Photography" again this week and I've begun rereading "Mountain Light." Both continue to provide me with invaluable information and inspiration; all of Galen's books and other materials are still just as excellent as ever. I invite you to rediscover them for yourself.