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.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church coca cola

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.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church moody

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

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church sunset

…and its quest for simplicity and good manners.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church on a hill

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.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church sun flare

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.

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church cross cemetery

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

neilson bay area travel photography iceland church grass mountains

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!

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.

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.

neilson travel photography iceland horses landscape cotton bolls

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.

neilson travel photography landscape horse solitary

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

neilson travel landscape photography iceland horses mono e mono

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.

neilson travel photography landscape iceland horses cinematic group

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

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