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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Light In August

Last August, my buddies and I backpacked at Point Reyes. We walked and talked and sipped tequila and bourbon in the evening. On this particular outing, I paid close attention to light and its patterns on grass, trails, webs, and the forest floor.

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That last image above is my favorite from the set. Hope you enjoyed.

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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.

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.

bay area family photographer photography pleasanton flowers in hair

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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Pensive Is Joy

 

Faces without expression interest me.
I like the ambiguity, the pensiveness.
But clients don’t like Pensive.
Not as a general rule.
They like unvarnished Joy.
Always have.
So.
Lately I’m doing something different.
During family photo shoots,
I run participants through a series of prompts.
Together we travel from Pensive to Joy
With many waystations in between.
I’m happy with the results.
I get what I want.
And clients get what they want.
Thoughts and reactions are welcome!

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Him to Her

WINTER, SUMMER—I traveled up and down the San Francisco peninsula photographing corporate business professionals. I’d like to share a few of them.

Adobe

The only thing better than a corporate shoot at Adobe is a corporate shoot at Adobe on a balcony overlooking the City. With a cityscape like that, your eyes would pop, too.

neilson corporate photography photography bay area san francisco silicon valley adobe staff headshot executive portrait will allen

CyCognito

Members of the CyCognito leadership team needed new headshots to match an existing look and feel. Although it departs from my customary style and aesthetic, I thoroughly enjoyed working with a white background and two off-camera strobes.

Procurant

When you provide solutions for the global food supply chain, it’s smart branding to photograph your leaders outdoors where trees and hedgerows provide a splash of color.

Fenwick & West marketing pro

This aspiring marketing leader at a legendary law firm wanted to blend the venerability of law with the approachability of marketing. Done and done. 

Oh, did I say Adobe?

If so, no harm in repetition 🙂

neilson corporate photography photography bay area san francisco silicon valley adobe staff headshot executive portrait will allen

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