The Color Masters: Nature Photography's Top 3

Who's the best at any given artistic endeavor? Impossible to say, after all beauty is in the eye of the beholder isn't it? But for me at least, the top 3 nature photographers who've had the most influence over the past 30 years have to be Art Wolfe, Galen Rowell, and David Muench. Their individual bodies of work are expansive beyond belief and all three have profoundly influenced an entire generation of nature photographers. Art Wolfe stands alone in terms of sustained excellence in photographing the natural world over the past 30 years. He has that special gift for seeing a photograph and is able to create images that are classic, ones that resonate over time. I think growing up in a home of commercial artists and having formal training in the arts were the foundation of the creative and expressive style that is so unmistakably Art Wolfe. He's taken over a million images and released over 60 books so his work has had a far reaching impact on conservation efforts. He's also been a major contributor to teaching other photographers through his books, workshops and more recently his amazing PBS series "Travels to the Edge". And good luck catching him at his Seattle gallery since he typically travels about 9 moths a year! Maybe you should check out his web site first...

Galen Rowell was a mountain climber/photographer/adventurer who perhaps single handedly launched adventure photography as we know it today. Sadly, Galen's life ended way too short but he left behind an amazing body of work that defies the imagination. He understood the properties of light and natural phenomena with the mind of a physicist and was able to utilize his super human physical talents to create images in the landscape that had never been seen before.  His images are powerful, striking and definitely transport you to far away exotic places. His expert use of split neutral density filters continues to have a major influence on capture technique and processing in the digital darkroom.

David Muench could easily be argued as the most influential landscape photographer other than Ansel Adams. Muench has photographed extensively in the American Southwest using his large format camera and has created images for over 50 years now. His compositional style and techniques have been used by nature photographers around the world. And he can often be credited with as being the original photographer who popularized a multitude of iconic locations of the Southwest. His technique of using a prominent foreground object to create depth in the landscape finds it's way into the portfolio of almost every landscape photographer. The contemplative, expansive quality of his images are unmistakable and timeless.