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Mountain Light:
In Search of the Dynamic Landscape

by Galen Rowell


Sierra Club Books, SanFrancisco,1986; 224pages, 80 colour photographs

“I once read in a review of another of Galen Rowell's books the complaint that Rowell's photographs were, in fact, "fairly ordinary," that if you compared them with pictures taken by other mountaineering photographers, the final portfolios would be quite similar.
With the publication of Mountain Light: In Search of The Dynamic Landscape, Galen Rowell's photographic autobiography of twenty years of landscape photography, such deprecatory remarks must be silenced. The viewer is stunned into reverent silence by the collective power of eighty of Rowell's favorite photographs, including several of his strongest images, like the fabled, Rainbow Over The Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet. These are captured jewels from nature's mixed palate of light, pictures taken by a masterful hand and eye, and superbly reproduced as only Dai Nippon can. They challenge our preconceptions of the limits of landscape photography. Warm light, cold light, artist's light, light-upon-light, all are carefully preserved by Rowell's skilled vision, the interpretive chemistry of photographic film and camera. Balancing the photographs is an informative text which makes fascinating reading all on its own and illuminates how each of the final images was achieved. (…)
His advice on photographic gear, tripods, time exposures, reciprocity failure, depth of field and the use of his favorite split-level, neutral-density filter all make excellent reading for interested outdoor photographers. The underlying theme of Chapter Six, Operative Vision, is the constant creative need to shed the skin of old technical proficiencies, those comfortable, but ultimately restrictive habits, and learn anew.”
Ed Webster, “American Alpine Journal” 1987, p 314-316

“(…) Mountain Light (…) is more than just a technical photography manual. It's as if someone took a exquisite coffee table picture book, a technical color photography manual, a landscape art and photographic history, plus a mountain storybook, and tossed them all into a Cuisinart. The result is an appealing casserole that's easier to digest than one would imagine. (…)
The 80 color plates are distributed amongst eight exhibit chapters, each of which emphasizes a certain aspect of mountain photography. Most deal with different types of light. Many of the plates are tremendous — worth looking at time and again.  (…)
As one would expect, this book contains many mountain stories as well as lots of natural history tidbits. Truly a book with something for everyone, it even gives Galen's tips for getting lucky in chapter seven. Taken as a whole, it presents Galen's philosophy towards the outdoors and photography.
If, like most climbers, you can't read, this book would still be a worthwhile purchase to grace the coffee table inside your tent or van. If you're an aspiring photographer, it's even more valuable. If, like me, you wonder why Galen's pictures are on the magazine covers, while yours hide inside, it's invaluable.”
John Sherman, “Climbing” 1986, December, No 99, p. 79

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