Passing through Bishop on the way to Mono Lake on our recent trip, we were behind some traffic at a stop light in the center of town when I happened to glance to the right. That was when I saw the Mountain Light Gallery, home to the work of, among others, the late Galen Rowell. I had known the gallery was in Bishop, and in our original plans we had included a stop here, but in our haste to get where we were going we almost missed stopping. I immediately pulled over on the side of the street and informed Sam that he was in for a treat.
We spent about an hour marveling at the exquisite prints on display. We couldn’t help but be impressed by the range of light and subjects available for viewing, and our visit was enhanced by the tangible feeling of being very welcome there. Viewing image after image, our jaws often literally dropped as we could be heard exclaiming “Wow!” as we explored the collection. It was incredibly inspiring to see Galen Rowell’s work in person, and if you haven’t already done so, I would strongly recommend a visit.
The intimate feel of the Mountain Light Gallery nestled in the small Californian town of Bishop could not have been further from the gallery setting we visited in Las Vegas. We were wandering the strip, ducking in and out of various casinos to get a taste of what Vegas was all about, with one of our primary targets being to visit the Peter Lik Gallery in Caesar’s Palace.
The images on display there were magnificent, bold and colorful. Artist Peter Lik’s images were often huge renditions of iconic scenes, but despite my familiarity with many of the locations, they were presented in a way that was absolutely mesmerizing and attention-grabbing. The staff in the gallery were very friendly, taking the time to talk with us in detail about the artist’s latest work. Printed large in dimensions measured in feet rather than inches, we were thoroughly impressed with the quality of imagery on display.
While it is obviously important to always strive to create and execute your own vision when behind the camera, I believe that seeing quality work created by others can be a very positive and engaging experience. There is much room for creativity when photographing any scene – even those picture-postcard scenes that we see images of all the time. The season, the time of day, the weather conditions, the quality and direction of the light, where you make your tripod holes, the camera, the lens, the focal length, the aperture, the shutter speed, the iso – and, most importantly, the personal choice of what to include in the viewfinder and what to exclude – all contribute a myriad of opportunities for making an image your own. Part of the fun of photography for me is certainly in making sense of the technical and creative choices available to create an image that I like, but what draws me more is actually being there… using all of your senses to truly take in the beauty of your surroundings is why I photograph landscapes. This connection to the surroundings is something that came through loud and clear in the images of both Galen Rowell and Peter Lik, and is obvious when looking at other landscape photographers who have executed their vision.
Witnessing in-person the amazing images of such talented photographers definitely left the both of us impressed, inspired, and very appreciative of the work we saw in print. Though not on par with some of the masters, this image of the salt flats in Death Valley as they transition after winter rains is all mine 😉