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.

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.

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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

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!

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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Photography as Rorschach Test?

Photography is influenced by psychology in a big way.
Take a look at these images,
Which I created over the last four years.

From image to image, the similarities are striking, right?
One person, not two—or more.
Face and eyes are largely hidden from view.
Shoulders or backsides get a lot of play.
Ratio of subject to negative space is fairly consistent,
With negative space predominating in the scene.
And of course, we’re outside, where wilderness abounds:
Sky, mountains, ocean, lakes, fields, trails, vistas, trees, and so on.
If photographs are inkblots, and they are—always!—
What do these images reveal about my beliefs and preoccupations?
And what do they reveal about your worldview, as you engage and react to them?

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