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Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography Paperback – 16 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (16 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393338088
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393338089
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 0.2 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"[Galen Rowell] was the real thing... His skillful writings were a rare combination of engaging behind-the-scenes narrative and actionable photographic instruction. Everyone wants to explore in his shoes and see through his lens." -- Steve D. Werner, publisher, Outdoor Photographer

About the Author

Galen Rowell, internationally renowned photographer and mountaineer, is the author of such acclaimed books as My Tibet (with His Holiness the Dalai Lama) and Mountains of the Middle Kingdom. His work regularly appears in Life, National Geographic, Outside, and Sports Illustrated.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Feb. 2002
Format: Hardcover
A book about the art of photography not just technical excellence as most books on photography. Not a photography engineering book about f-stops and shutter speeds but about how to visualize good pictures and why some pictures are perceived as outstanding.
This book inspired me to see photography from a new angle with more thougth about what I do as a photographer. It is a virtual toolbox filled with tools to explain why one picture is great and another not so great even if they are at the same technical level.
This set of collected columns from Outdoor Photographer is not something you want to read cover to cover, rather you should read a chapter or two and give them some thougth before you go on. But at the same time I enjoyed it so much that I read it cover to cover on one night and then re-read it later.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. R. G. Dibble on 9 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
Read about this book when reading Ian Camerons book, Transcient Light. Bought the book and was amazed by Galen Rowells photographs. An excellent book for anyone wanting to upgrade their Landscape Photography
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark Sampson on 31 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Long considered something of a classic, I was very pleased to receive this book as an unexpected gift. Unfortunately I was left disappointed, as Rowell's tone is far too smug and self-satisfied for my liking. I was (constantly) minded of Alan Partridge's fictional autobiography, with its repeated end-of-chapter refrain of "Needless to say, I had the last laugh".

A lot of the information is dated, but equipment isn't the main focus of the book. Rowell concentrates on vision and photographic development, topics which should be of more interest to the intermediate/advanced photographer than f/stop explanations and jpeg vs Raw discussions. Some of the photography is very good - and some of the writing does provide food for thought - but if you're sensitive to a writer's voice you might find Rowell's pervasive lack of humility grating. There is insight in here, but all too often it is presented in a manner I found off-putting. Others might disagree, but to me Rowell came across more conceited know-all than wise mentor.

Each to their own, but I found the book slow going, and whenever I pick it up to re-read a chapter, and give it another chance, I'm almost instantly reminded of why I was turned off in the first place.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Uncle Bob on 7 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book comprises a series of articles first published in "Outdoor Photography". Primarily bought this book at the suggestion of Ken Rockwell's camera review website. Whilst not exactly what I was expecting(?),I did find it sufficiently interesting to read it from cover to cover. It may not revolutionise your photography, but it may make you think about the process more deeply. I found the article on Smart Flash photography very useful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 47 reviews
54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Must read for advanced novice and above 30 May 2002
By Bukkene Bruse - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography" is a collection of articles written for Outdoor Photographer magazine organized into four broad categories. Interspersed between the articles are sections of photographs. Each article is cross-listed with relevant photographs, and vice-verse. This cross listing is an effective device; coming back to various photographs as I read the essays forced me to really think about them.
The first section deals with "creative and cognitive processes." These range from the inner desire needed to go out and get that shot to an almost scholarly examination - complete with annotated bibliography - of the processes involved in human sight and the differences between what people see and what film records. I found this section to be the strongest aspect of the book as well as the most useful and interesting.
The second section consists mainly of technical material ranging from how to pack your gear to ways to use flash in outdoor settings. It is pitched at a higher level than an introductory photo guide, suitable for an advanced novice like myself.
The third section is primarily a collection of travel stories, often only tangentially touching on photography. However, these articles provide the context in which many of the photographs in the book were taken. Arguably, context is the crux of photography. As Rowell points out, photographs are used to tell a story - though maybe not the one intended by the photographer.
The last section conveys Rowell's view on the positive and negative effects that photography and outdoor travel have on the natural environment, as well as on the art of color outdoor photography vis-à-vis fine art photography. These essays are thought provoking and, like the rest of the book, very well written.
I had feared from the title that I was in for a bunch of pseudo-spiritual babble, but instead I found a fairly deep, if meandering, discussion of the spectrum of what outdoor photography involves.
93 of 105 people found the following review helpful
Not much of a "game", mostly "travel log" 10 July 2005
By A. Zarusski - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read some of the reviews about this book present on this site and was somewhat surprised to see mostly positive ones. Maybe it is just my perception or the expectation I had after reading these reviews but before buying the book that lead to my disappointment in the book. What were my expectations...? I did expect Galen to tell me what he thinks and feels before, during, and after taking those great pictures. I did NOT expect a HOW-TO book (which it is definitely not). I expected a book about artistic approach to the outdoor photography. What I found instead was mostly a travel log. The first 2 chapters were as close to my expectation as it ever got. The author talked some about his creative approach and very little about his technical one. The rest of the book doesn't even present his "photographic philosophy". He simply talks about his travels, places he visited, people he met. All that would be great for an illustrated travel book but not for a book that was supposed to tell me about how HE came to those pictures, what (in his opinion) made those pictures great or standing out (there is some of it but so little it almost doesn't exist). The book's title has "inner game" words in it. I wanted to know what that "inner" game was before, during, and after taking EACH picture (or at least most of them). Overall - disappointing and expensive for that.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
The "Inner Passion" of Galen Rowell 11 May 2003
By J. Franck - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're a serious photographer (amateur or pro) and find your interest in shooting lagging occasionally, Rowell's enthusiasm might be contagiousness enough to provide a cure. This man was passionate about photography and went to extraordinary ends to get the shots he visualized. The majority of the book deals with his philosophy of photography and how he accomplished what he did. There's also much excellent technical advice. The book's only shortcoming, from my very personal perspective (take it for what it's worth), is the undercurrent of Rowell's ample ego. Were the personal pronoun "I" deleted from the book, its page count would be reduced considerably. Nonetheless, I still strongly recommend "Inner Game" for the highly passionate and very personal account that it is - an extraordinary photographer's testimonial to a life totally devoted to the art of photography and love of nature. It makes you want to climb a mountain and take pictures!
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A Photographer's Philosophy 17 Jan. 2002
By Bruce Appelbaum - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have enjoyed Galen Rowell's photography and writing for many years. His column in "Outdoor Photography" magazine is probably the main reason I renew my subscription.
This volume, like its predecessor "Galen Rowell's Vision," is a collection of his columns from that magazine, arranged thematically, with more of his photos to illustrate the points made. He ranges from how to photograph, to technical issues and equipment, to environmental issues, to seeing and creating.
I don't want to be Galen Rowell. I don't want to photograph like Galen Rowell. But I like his viewpoint and outlook. He seems to be able to put these things into words a bit better than most other photographers. This is a worthy addition to any outdoor photographer's bookshelf, not to mention the armchair photographer.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
The latest incredible work from the master. 8 July 2001
By Michael Offner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I could not possibly say enough about the brilliance of Galen Rowell. It is self-evident from his photographs that he is both a technical master and an artist with tremendous vision -- he possesses an extraordinary ability to capture and convey breathtaking images and moments in time.
What is extremely lucky for other photographers like me, constantly striving to learn and improve, is that Galen Rowell is also a phenomenal writer. Some can do; some can teach -- Galen Rowell is one of those rare instances of a master of both.
The first time I picked up his Mountain Light (a MUST read), I heard a voice speaking to exactly all of the difficulties I had encountered in my work, explaining what the problems were, and clearly showing me how to correct them.
Some of Galen Rowell's photographs are so extraordinary that some people doubt whether they are authentic -- let me just say, read Galen's teachings, apply them to your own work, and you will understand the power of this man's vision. Before studying his work and writing, I would not have believed what I could do with my own camera.
Galen Rowell's Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is yet another magnificent addition to his collection of works which will allow any photographer to expand and fulfill their potential, and to achieve realization of their artistic and personal vision.
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