Yosemite Calls

I first saw Yosemite in my early thirties. I arrived late at night with a boisterous crew. We made camp under large trees. They blocked the light from the moon and the stars. Darkness was complete. I saw nothing. I knew nothing beyond my meager cone of light. Then I slept. When I woke, I was utterly astonished. Actually, that word is too puny. It was more like rapture, except that word is too flabby. My reaction was coarse, visceral, and lightning fast. Holy fuck, I whispered. Holy fucking shit. I stopped breathing. I gazed in wonder and disbelief. I’d never seen anything like it. I won’t attempt to describe what I saw. But I will share some images I recently made while I was at Yosemite with my family on fall break.

Two Half Domes make a whole. Or, art makes the world whole. Yes, I like the sound of that, even though it’s only half true.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer yosemite half dome painter

Not even a language barrier got in our way. The man fussed with a tripod, then ran to his bride. He did this many times before I smiled and pointed, Here, I said without a word. They understood. They stepped where I’d pointed. They smiled back. Then I flourished my hand across my face, and the man’s hand followed suit. Her smile makes me indescribably happy.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer yosemite chapel couple

After the couple left, I waited for the light to mellow out. It did. And the chapel played peek-a-boo behind the trees.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer yosemite chapel

This is my wife. She has eyes like exotic insects. She’s doing what I did when I first beheld the granite walls of Yosemite. Gazing, raptly.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer yosemite curry village blue eyes

Alex Honnold immortalized himself on this massive chunk of granite in Free Solo. Although the image is nice after a fashion, it’s basically false, because it doesn’t adequately communicate the sheer scale of the rock. Not even close.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer yosemite el capitan

Here’s a stone bridge over the Merced river with drifting smoke from camp fires.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer yosemite stone bridge

Sometimes reflections are more real than the things themselves.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer yosemite river boulder reflection

I worked hard for this last image, fighting off other heathen photographers. Half Dome at twilight. It has the right balance of magic and realism that produces that holy-fucking-shit moment I had in my thirties when I woke up to a new world on the valley floor. I added a lot of grain to prevent color banding. But the high-res version of the image is fantastic and will print beautifully. If you’re interested in a copy, give me a shout. I’ll be doing a large print run soon.

neilson travel landscape photography bay area photographer Yosemite twilight

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

The Autumn of Our Content

Neilson family photography california bay area mcclellan ranch cupertino photographer brothers fence rural

October, 2019.
McClellan Ranch, Cupertino, CA.
Autumn colors; blue sky, hazy.
Family mini sessions all day Sunday.
Too many great images to share.
But one stands out right now.
I stare and stare at it.
I know it’s not the greatest image ever taken.
But I secretly believe it is.
Photographers are strange that way.
The boys were pure energy when they arrived.
Scripted shots weren’t going to work.
So I threw mental choreography to the wind.
Instead, we walked and talked.
We laughed and poked fun at each other.
We discovered Sycamore leaves as large as Texas
And unearthed golf balls along the creek.
The shadows lengthened slowly.
My camera clicked without a set purpose in mind.
When the session was over, we walked back to the parking lot.
I said to the boys, Post up here, yeah, just like that.
Energy spent, they posted on the fence, relaxed and languid.
In that moment, I captured something real and enduring, I hope.
The image says something about the passage of time—
Of days, seasons, and childhood—
And it says something about brotherhood, too.
I hope you like the image as much as I do!
As always, thank you for visiting.

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Simply Lucy

bay area photographer salmon lake highway 89 black and white candid natural light portrait lucy

Lucy.
Freckles, yes.
Nose ring and earrings, great.
But eyes, always eyes.
Oh, and strength and beauty
And a head swarming with ideas.
Time to front the world.
Go, Lucy, go!

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Capturing Worlds

neilson corporate photography executive portraits headshots bay area san jose photographer photos websites esther duterte

Meet Esther Duterte.
She is the founder of Talent Hound.
An agency that delivers recruiting services with a genuine H2H touch.
Esther hired me to create photos for use on the agency’s Home and About pages.
It’s always gratifying to make images of business pros in urban landscapes.
Away from backdrops, gray, black, or otherwise.
Away from strobes and speed lights, from cubicles and offices.
But still right in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Yes, very gratifying, indeed.

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

Eye of the Beholder

bay area corporate event photography photographer photojournalism san francisco ncg glasses

Details are in the eye of the beholder.
When I cover corporate events, I love going small.
Arresting details can be found in the most surprising places.

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

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!

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.

 

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.

neilson travel photography bay area photographer iceland glaciers three one small

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

neilson travel photography bay area photographer iceland glaciers yellow backpack

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

neilson travel photography bay area photographer iceland glaciers three one bright

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

neilson bay area travel landscape photography iceland glaciers santa cruz kid

Contact me for kids, teens, couples, family, and corporate photography in the Bay Area.