Crash kills photographer of nature Galen Rowell

Galen Rowell, a renowned nature and landscape photographer, died 14 August 2002 when the small plane in which he was travelling crashed while approaching the airport in Bishop, Calif. He was 61.

Also killed in the crash of the twin-engine Aero Commander 690-B were Rowell’s wife, photographer and writer Barbara Cushman Rowell, 53, pilot Tom Reid and passenger Carol McAfee of Bishop. The Rowells were returning home from a trip to the Bering Sea.

In 1984, Rowell received the Ansel Adams Award for his contributions to the art of wilderness photography. Since 1986, he has written a popular monthly column for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and in 1992 he received a National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Grant to photograph Antarctica, according to a statement from their company, Mountain Light.

Rowell published 16 books of photography, including the best-selling Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, and is said to have made more than 300,000 images during his career, according to acolumn by San Francisco Chronicle outdoor writer Paul McHugh.

In the past two decades, Rowell made over 30 trips through Nepal, India, Tibet, China, Africa, Alaska, Siberia, New Zealand and Patagonia, as well as climbing in the High Sierras of the western United States, according to a New York Times story.

The Times story quotes a passage that Rowell once wrote: “Still photographs, especially those originally matched to a strong vision, are virtually unforgettable.”

The couple met and married in 1981 when Barbara Cushman, working as public relations director for an outdoor clothing company, hired him, according to the Times. That same year, Rowell founded Mountain Light, and opened the eponymous gallery in Emeryville, Calif., before moving business operations to Bishop last year.

Barabara Cushman Rowell, an accomplished pilot herself, was set to release a book in October focusing on small planes, titled Flying South: A Pilot’s Inner Journey.

In an account about flying a Cessna 206 to Chile, she wrote:

“Before departure, my daydreams went wild. I envisioned every conceivable remote location where we might crash. I could see the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle. ‘Berkeley Family Disaster Makes Donner Party Tragedy Look Tame.'”