You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn't waste either.— Galen Rowell
The most fulfilling Galen Rowell quotes that will activate your inner potential
Ever since the 1860s when photographers travelled the American West and brought photographs of scenic wonders back to the people on the East Coast of America we have had a North American tradition of landscape photography used for the environment.
I think that cognitive scientists would support the view that our visual system does not directly represent what is out there in the world and that our brain constructs a lot of the imagery that we believe we are seeing.
When the magic hour arrives, my thoughts center on light rather than on the landscape. I search for perfect light, then hunt for something earthbound to match with it.
I almost never set out to photograph a landscape, nor do I think of my camera as a means of recording a mountain or an animal unless I absolutely need a 'record shot'. My first thought is always of light.
I find it some of the hardest photography and the most challenging photography I've ever done. It's a real challenge to work with the natural features and the natural light.
When I go to the mountains, I intuitively know my place in the world much better through these experiences. The more intense they are, the better I know myself, and the more I am able to challenge myself.
The most interesting parts of the natural world are the edges, places where ocean meets land, meadow meets forest, timberline touches the heights.
A lot of people think that when you have grand scenery, such as you have in Yosemite, that photography must be easy.
I like to feel that all my best photographs had strong personal visions and that a photograph that doesn't have a personal vision or doesn't communicate emotion fails.
I began taking pictures in the natural world to be able to show people what I was experiencing when I climbed and explored in Yosemite in the High Sierra.
The landscape is like being there with a powerful personality and I'm searching for just the right angles to make that portrait come across as meaningfully as possible.
If we limit our vision to the real world, we will forever be fighting on the minus side of things, working only too make our photographs equal to what we see out there, but no better.
Small, portable digital cameras that exceed the performance of an off-the-shelf Nikon using 35mm slide film are further away from current reality than the proposed NASA manned Mars mission, although I expect both to happen sometime during my lifetime.
My interest in photography did not begin with books or mentors, or with any burning desire to see the world through a camera. It evolved from an intense devotion to mountains and wilderness that eventually shaped all the parts of my life and brought them together.
I think landscape photography in general is somewhat undervalued.
Today, I'm very careful not to mention very specific locations when I write or give captions.
There is no question that photography has played a major role in the environmental movement.
My mountaineering skills are not important to my best photographs, but they do add a component to my work that is definitely a bit different than that of most photographers.
Wanting to take a light camera with me when I climb or do mountain runs has kept me using exclusively 35 mm.
My first thought is always of light.
My advice for climbers or photographers is to really tune into your own passions and not just what other people are doing or aren't doing. Figure out what works for you, what turns you on, what gives you the greatest amount of energy and feeling of satisfaction.
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it...If we limit our vision to the real world, we will forever be fighting on the minus side of things, working only too make our photographs equal to what we see out there, but no better.
I began to realise that film sees the world differently than the human eye, and that sometimes those differences can make a photograph more powerful than what you actually observed.
I remember when an editor at the National Geographic promised to run about a dozen of my landscape pictures from a story on the John Muir trail as an essay, but when the group of editors got together, someone said that my pictures looked like postcards.
The combination of pictures and words together can be really effective, and I began to realise in my career that unless I wrote my own words, then my message was diluted.
And most of my early pictures failed but about one in a 100 somehow looked better than what I saw.
Often when I walked alone in the mountains, I tried to make sense out of the two halves of my life. What went on in the city during the week seemed chaotic and unrelated to the events in my mountain world.
When the light is right and everything is working for me, I feel as tense as when making a difficult maneuver high on a mountain. A minute - and sometimes mere seconds - can make the difference between a superb image and a mundane one.
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it.
We mountaineers always live with the feeling that we came on the scene too late.
There's no question that photographs communicate more instantly and powerfully than words do, but if you want to communicate a complex concept clearly, you need words, too.
At the heart of all photography is an urge to express our deepest personal feelings - to reveal our inner, hidden selves, to unlock the artist. Those of us who become photographers are never satisfied with just looking at someone else's expression of something that is dear to us. We must produce our own images, instead of buying postcards and photo books. We seek to make our own statements of individuality.
Memory selects single important images, just as the camera does.
In that manner both are able to isolate the highest moments of living.
These days, most nature photographers are deeply committed to the environmental message.
What I mean by photographing as a participant rather than observer is that I'm not only involved directly with some of the activities that I photograph, such as mountain climbing, but even when I'm not I have the philosophy that my mind and body are part of the natural world.
When we tune in to an especially human way of viewing the landscape powerfully, it resonates with an audience.
The reason that I keep writing is that all my most powerful messages about the fates of wild places that I care about need to have words as well as images.
Luckily, many other people tell me how they have had a particular landscape photograph of mine in their office or bedroom for 15 years and it always speaks to them strongly whenever they see it.
I'm exchanging molecules every 30 days with the natural world and in a spiritual sense I know I am a part of it and take my photographs from that emotional feeling within me, rather than from an emotional distance as a spectator.