One Fall Morning in the Sierra meeting my mentor
| Recently, I was looking at an old magazine article written by one of my photography mentors. I read the words written as if it was the first time seeing this article but I've read this piece at least 3-4 times previously and felt the magazine and article worth saving even after more than a decade has passed since the writer's death. The author was none other than the late Galen Rowell one of the world's premere photographers of his time. I own four of his books and used his photography as my inspiration to go to places not often visited by many folks in hopes of getting that once in a lifetime shot.
The small town of Bishop in California's Owens Valley was home to Galen and his wife Barbara who also was a photographer and aircraft pilot. There in Bishop, they opened a photography gallery in an old converted bank. When traveling up the highway 395 I would often take the time to visit the gallery to be in awe of Galen's work and wish that someday to be as good a photographer as he was but that dream never materialized in my lifetime. I did however, get to meet my mentor face to face and his wife Barbara on a sunny cold autumn morning up at Intake II lake in the North Bishop Creek basin.
I was staying at Cardinal Village Resort deep up the canyon for my annual fall vacation with my longtime fishing partner the legionary trout fisherman Marlon Meade and Berkley Prostaffer. Marlon has come to accept my dedication to photographing the great outdoors as much as my love for fishing over the years and even has surrendered several hours of our fishing days to allow me to practice my craft. In photography its important to take advantage of lighting and the opportunities that are given at any particular time of the day. The day before my meeting of the Rowells it snowed and we didn't fish that day due to the incumbent weather. All that night I was thinking of what the fall colors on the aspen trees around Intake II lake would look like blanketed with the white magic of snow. I couldn't wait for sunrise to come and got my equipment ready that night. My fishing partner was sleeping warm snug in his sleeping bag as I quietly exited our cabin as not to awaken him. Driving our vehicle down the canyon I was excited thinking I would be the first person at the lake and there would be no evidence of man's footprints in the virgin snowfall.
As I made the turn down to the lake I could see another vehicle and two people at the edge of the water to from a distance appeared to be engaged in photographing the lake framed by the snow covered aspens. How could anyone have the same idea as me was very perplexing and as I drove further down the hill to the parking area the couple were packing up their equipment and heading for their Range Rover SUV. As they approached their vehicle I immediately recognized them. It was none other than Galen and Barbara Rowell. I was awestruck and not wanting to miss an opportunity to meet my mentor of so many years, got out of my car quickly and approached them.
What would I say? I didn't want to come off as some kid meeting a super hero asking for an autograph kind of guy to them. As luck would have it the right words left my lips. "Mr.Rowell and his lovely wife Barbara. Why should I not be surprised seeing you both here stealing my shot this morning." And I chucked like we were old acquaintances. Galen laughed as did Barbara at my greeting comment, and I introduced myself to them as being a great admirer of his work who also owned several of his books. After some pleasant conversation Galen offered to autograph one of his newest books if I came by their gallery and with that, we parted ways.
I photographed the lake but in the footprints of greatness left behind. Somehow, I felt like I too, at that particular moment in time, had a little greatness since my mentor and myself were thinking about the same place at the same time to photograph something we both thought was kind of special to both of us. Thank you Galen and Barbara for your time to make a special moment to a fan and for the wonderful images you have given us of places that people don't often see.