Galen Rowell

Sierra Club, ISBN: 0871563673 PublisherBuy online

coverGalen Rowell was a world-class mountaineer and photographer. He passed away with his wife in an airplane crash on August 11, 2002.

He was a master of color landscapes and had the knack of catching unique combinations of light in the memorable photos that can be seen in his Mountain Light Gallery. Interestingly, he eschewed the large format cameras used by Ansel Adams and used exclusively 35mm cameras from Nikon (thus thoroughly debunking the orthodoxy that 35mm cannot be used for serious landscape photography).

In this book, Rowell lays out his relation to mountains, his artistic vision and his photographic techniques, in an engaging and lively style alternating between theoretical text and more illustrative intermezzos with detailed descriptions of the story behind each image (reminiscent of Ansel Adams’ Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs. Like Ansel Adams, he was a member of the Sierra Club, but ecological preoccupations are woven subtly in the text. He shows a photo taken near a 4900 year old bristlecone pine that was felled by a botanist who couldn’t be troubled to special-order a core sampling borer from Switzerland.

The photos in the book are gorgeous, but this is no mere coffee-table book (it is too affordable to be one, for starters). All in all, I believe this book is a must-read for anyone interested in landscape photography, even if you are not into the strenuous physical style he favored.