No, not the much missed climber, thinker and photographer Galen Rowell but the less well-known, but just as inspirational Galen Burrell.
In the late 1980s early ’90s Roz Kidman Cox, then editor at BBC Wildlife, ran a number of extraordinary photographs as double page spreads in the magazine – just one per month. I remember Laurie Campbell’s group of young rabbits in Edinburgh, Dr Scott Nielsen’s Carolina ducks, a wide angle picture of a snipe from Finland – and the picture on the cover of Burrell’s book, In Search of Mountain Bluebirds (Graphic Sha, 1987) of 7 bluebirds in the snow. Getting hold of Japanese books wasn’t so easy in those days but I tracked down a copy of this and his other book, When The Snowgeese Are Gone and was enchanted. This was nature photography quite unlike what I was used to. Not only was the subject normally small in the frame – something I was learning about from Finnish photographers – but he was pushing the limits of what was acceptable with Kodachrome, often to create very high key – even over-exposed – images. Rather like Vincent Munier’s work today, this was all about mood. I remember thinking at the time what a novel idea it was to expose for the side of the subject facing the camera even when looking into the light when, naturally, the subject would be a silhouette.
Burrell’s creativity was extraordinary, his freedom from photographic convention inspirational and I think it is a great loss that his work has faded from view. Second hand copies of his books are available but of the man himself (rather than the runner), I can find little trace.
I made this portrait of a singing male white spotted bluethroat on Texel as a tribute to this forgotten master.