Flower Girl

Before she arrives on the scene…

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…a whole lot of things have to happen.
Like this, that, and the other.

Oh, and the other other.

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Then and only then does she appear as though fated.

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Which is why families—every family—is sweet.

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Go East, Young Man

Neilson_Travel_Photography_Lamoille-Canyon

Gavin stared at anglers with wonder.
Wanna learn to fish, I asked.
He nodded yes.
Alright, I said, we’ll go fishing then.
Utah.
Because go big or go home.
We planned.
We packed the car.
We left early one morning.
We stopped in Truckee for a snack.
Then Winnemucca for lunch.
By late afternoon, we made Elko.
Tired, thirsty.
We bellied up to a bar.
A Shirley Temple, no cherry, please.
Oh, and a Coors Light for me.
I got to drive still.
We relaxed and drank.
Three cowboys sized Gavin up.
One asked, Where you headed?
Utah, we’re going fishing, said Gavin.
Cowboy’s excitement bordered on ecstasy.
He jolted like a man on an untamed horse.
Fishing, you’re in luck, said Cowboy.
Go to Lamoille Canyon.
Not far from here, he added.
We were sold.
We finished our drinks.
We exchanged pleasantries.
Hit the road, made camp an hour later.
Then Gavin disappeared to explore the river.
I found him at just the right moment,
Crossing under shadows and a burst of light.
Splendid, magnificent, add your superlative of choice!

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Take Me To Church

Iceland, summer, 2019—I love churches, mainly as symbols of quiet and stillness. I’m intrigued by “religious” or “spiritual” values: charity, kindness, sacrifice, forgiveness, transcendence, and so on. I’m especially fascinated when religious values conflict with profane ones. Like efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line. I salivated when this alarm-red truck rocked the scene in Reykjavík.

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Such a great juxtaposition! It reminds me of Thoreau who despises rampant commercialism.

“I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.”

The next image is angelic and demonic all at once. It’s OK to gasp in terror before a church. After all, it’s stitched together from bits and pieces of cracked humanity.

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But it’s also OK to be awed by its beauty and hopefulness…

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…and its quest for simplicity and good manners.

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Gavin and I had to earn this next church. We were at camp when I noticed the sun setting just so. Camera in hand, I walked west without a word. Gavin followed. We hustled up a steep hillside, then bowed before lupine. Graced by sun flare.

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Sometimes when I compose a scene, it triggers a verbal experience. As this one did when I squared up to photograph it:

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
And all that beauty, all the wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

That’s Thomas Gray, by the way.

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This last image also composed itself to a verbal tune, and from no less an authority than the Bible.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. —Exodus 3:2

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Except in this case it’s grass and not a bush that burns and isn’t consumed. A fine pastoral scene, elemental, with basic physical realities—spears of grass, game trails, a sharp ridgeline, and a small red and white church, eeking out a living in the immensity of it all.

Thanks for visiting, hope you enjoyed!

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The Color of Water

Glaciers are mesmerizing.
All that gray, swirling ceaselessly,
Above in the clouds and below in the water.
Then suddenly—almost prophetically—a splash of blue.

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Onlookers are drawn to prophetic blue.
A patch of yellow signals the arrival of someone else.
A comrade-photographer angling low for a shot.

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Before long, the scene shifts.
The colors intensify as if by magic.
Bright and moody all at once.
Forlorn and revelatory.

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Gavin walks to the water’s edge, irresistibly.
A California kid—hanging loose—misplaced in this vast glacial lagoon.

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Strong Young Women

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Labor Day weekend.
Salmon Lake.
Cloudless.
I’m with friends.
Lots of them.
I’ve known them a long time.
We’ve seen our kids start small and go big.
Smiles are great.
But eyes are better.
They’re tough as hell to fake.
Eyes scream reality:
We take no shit from nobody.
Not in high school.
Not in college.
Never.

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Adobe: Picture Perfect

Overwhelming gratitude.
That’s how I feel when I photograph at Adobe.
Oh, happy, too, of the bursting variety.
So much to say about this set.
But the images themselves will have to do the talking.
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Out Shooting Horses

July, 2019.
Iceland, dusk.
In the summer, twilight lasts a long time.
The sun never never fully disappears.
It flirts with the horizon.
Skirting, touching, and dipping beneath it, briefly.
Then it pops right back up again.
I made these images at 11:30 at night.
My family was asleep.
I was not.
I crossed the road, empty.
I sauntered into an open field.
Potatoes, cotton bolls, lush green grass.
Oh, and horses, lots of them.
Corralled by trenches and thin wire fences.

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They skittered a bit, on edge.
One bolted, then stopped on a ridge.
He looked at me, miffed.
As I walked, he parallelled me with precision till I was gone.
A wild, long-maned Icelandic geometer of sorts.

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Another horse.
Not skittish, friendly.
Soft nose, curious eyes.
Closer, closer.
I touched the forehead,
Then the muzzle.

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I approached a small band of horses.
On hands and knees, I crawled up to them.
Totally unnecessary.
They greeted me, flicking their tails.
I sat down before them, at the feet of muscle and bone.
Rocking quietly before their strength and beauty.
Listening, observing, and shooting.
Always shooting.

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Now that’s a damn fine image.
Big print here I come!

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