Wednesday, December 30, 2009

From the Archive: Tibetan Worship

From the Archive: Tibetan Worship

Tibetan Worship
Canon EOS 1D-MkIIn | 1/60s | f/4 | 70mm | ISO1600

The heart of a Tibetan Buddhist temple is filled with incense, smoke, candles, worshippers, and a darkness that oppresses the spirit. As an American I feel I have been fed a glamourized view of Buddhism, imagining a religion of deep thought, calming practice, and inner peace. What I found instead was a system of belief oppressive in physical, emotional, and spiritual realms.

Physically, Buddhist monasteries contribute little to the surrounding community, instead exacting enormous religious “tax” upon an already poor populace. Emotionally, I have never encountered a people so dedicated to their religion or striving so mightily to obtain their Nirvana. There is no peace here. Spiritually, Tantric Buddhism is very dark, having ties to the Occult. It leads its followers from darkness into greater darkness in the name of enlightenment.

If you walked with me into the soul of this Buddhist temple you would find it very difficult to breathe. The incense and smoke are so thick that your eyes burn as they strain to see through the murky light. Everywhere you look, you see people like this man, offering up yak butter from containers into the myriad of candles. Others spin prayer wheels, deposit money, or recite their prayers before countless images of ancestors, sages, and deities. You may not even notice, but you would also find it difficult to think. Even as the incense muddles the air, so the spirit world is filled with forces that cloud the mind, making clear deliberate thought a chore, and the entertainment of any opposing religious thought well nigh impossible.

R

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Learn more about Tantric Buddhism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrayana

Like this image? Order a print here: http://rowangillson.zenfolio.com/archive/e2764201c

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From the Journal

From the Journal

"Right now my favorite song is "Before the Throne of God Above." I especially love verse 2:

'When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upwards I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.'

"I pick up my guitar and sing that several times a day, just to remember that no matter how overwhelmed or behind I feel I am RIGHTEOUS, LOVED, and ACCEPTED by my GOD! Nothing can touch that. Nothing. Ever. Those words are so full of hope and light! There can be no diminishing of the glory and brilliance of the love that the Father has for me; and the complete fullness of the price has already been paid."

R

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From the Archive: Christmas Tree

From the Archive: Christmas Tree

The family Christmas tree
Canon EOS 1D-MkIIn | 2.5s | f/5.6 | 15mm | ISO100

Last Christmas we had an awesome tree; one of those trees that you love to find and decorate, one of those trees that inspires living room camp-outs. My dad loved the tree, and wanted me to take a picture. Somehow I never really got around to it until one morning I was up early to catch a flight to somewhere, and realized that the tree wouldn’t be around when I got back. I grabbed my camera, tripod, and shot two frames on my way out the door.

I’m glad I did.

R

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cassie and Erik are Married!

Cassie and Erik are Married!

Cassie and Erik are married!
Favorite shot... right here!!

Congratulations guys on a fabulous start to your marriage. Cassie, you joked about it turning into a do-it-yourself wedding, but it was great! And it was yours... A wedding should be a celebration of your relationship and what God has done in your lives, and that's what December 12th was for you and Erik. Thanks for letting me be a part! I had a great time snapping photos! May God continue to bless you both!!

R

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

Cassie and Erik are married!

View the rest of the images at: http://cassieanderik.rowangillson.com

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

From the Archive: Bridge to Nowhere

From the Archive: Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere
Canon EOS 1D-MkIIn | 1/60s | f/4 | 70mm | ISO160

Sometimes as photographers it is easy to think that good pictures come from exotic locations. “Sure,” we think, “I’d take awesome pictures if I were in Africa.” The Bridge to Nowhere may be exotic to you, but for me it was just my own hometown on a fabulously foggy day in late March.

I love this image visually and conceptually. Rarely do we know the end from the beginning, and the times we think we do, somehow we don’t seem to end up there anyway. This bridge does lead to somewhere, but to those who would embark upon its path, that end is a mystery.

R

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Read up on Yosemite at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosemite_National_Park

Like this image? Order a print at: http://rowangillson.zenfolio.com/archive/e233cbf34

Thursday, December 10, 2009

2010 Calendar Images

2010 Calendar Images

The images from my 2010 calendar are now available for sale through my Zenfolio account. Check them out at: http://2010calendar.rowangillson.com Of course, calendars are available for sale as well. Just use the PayPal link at top right to make your purchase. Looking for more than 5 calendars? Just email me...

Cathedral of Saint Andrew
January—Cathedral of Saint Andrew

The Pantheon
February—The Pantheon

Saint Mark's Square
March—Saint Mark's Square

Saint Peter's Basilica
April—Saint Peter's Basilica

The Lennon Wall
May—The Lennon Wall

Saint Vitus' Cathedral
June—Saint Vitus' Cathedral

Saint Salvator's Chapel
Centerfold Poster—Saint Salvator's Chapel

Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
July—Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

Venice Alleyway
August—Venice Alleyway

Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany
September—Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany

Holy Trinity Church of Saint Andrews
October—Holy Trinity Church of Saint Andrews

Roman Forum
November—The Roman Forum

Westminster Abbey
December—Westminster Abbey

These images are complemented with a fabulous design by Mandy Novotny and can hang on your wall all year! View the full PDF of the calendar at: http://rowangillson.com/downloads/2010calendar.pdf

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R

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

From the Archive: January Moon Ring

From the Archive: January Moon Ring

A ring around the moon.
Canon EOS 1D-MkIIn | 30s | f/8 | 20mm

In late January 2007, I attended a spiritual retreat in Northern Michigan. Winter storms had dumped over a foot of snow in the region and then cleared out, leaving behind bitter cold and crystal clear skies. On this night temperatures were between 10 and 20 degrees below zero, but the perfect ring around a full moon was enough to lure me out onto the lake for a few photographs.

R

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Like this image? Order a print at: http://rowangillson.zenfolio.com/archive/e3e58eb87

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Car Story

The Car Story

So, there I was... sitting at Bi-Partisan Coffee with my friend Liz, just chatting away, minding my own business. I have no idea how this came up, and just between you and me, I blame Liz... All of a sudden there she was saying, "You should post on your Facebook status that you're praying for a car and see if anyone offers to give you one!"

"What?" says I, "I'm NOT really praying or stressing about a car, and I don't really feel like trying to manipulate people into giving me one!"

We were still arguing about this when the lady at the table next to us interrupted. "Excuse me, I'm sorry to interrupt," she quipped. "I've never paid money for a TV until just this year when I bought one for $20. I think it's OK to not buy a car." Then she went on, "Actually... we have this old '86 Volvo you can have when we're done with it! I'd give it to you right now, but my husband won't let me quite yet..."

With that we disengaged and I sat there glaring at a very triumphant Liz who had entirely proved her point.

No. I didn't take the car.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia
Photo by Carl Larsen

Faces of Ethiopia
Photo by Carl Larsen

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Faces of Ethiopia

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Success in Ethiopia

Success in Ethiopia

A crippled man begs on the side of a dirt road leading to the orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
A crippled man begs on the side of a dirt road leading to the orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I'm Home, and struggling with how to summarize the past few days in a blog post. OK... here goes.

Thursday was our Embassy Day. As I understand it, the adoption was already finalized on the Ethiopian side, but they had to appear, with the kids, at the U.S. Embassy to get U.S. Visas for Silas and Titus. Despite dozens of international trips, this was the first time I'd ever been inside a U.S. Embassy. (It actually wasn't all that great...) We had good fellowship with a number of other adopting families in the waiting room. Everything went smoothly for Carl and Angel, but friends of theirs had the heart wrenching experience of not receiving their visas. (I will write up this story another day... it's incredible!)

As we walked out of the Embassy I was sobered to see the hundreds of people sitting patiently awaiting their turn to apply for a Visa to the United States. As a natural-born, Citizen of the United States I am not sure I will ever completely understand what that truly means and how fortunate I am. Every once in a while I encounter a situation that reminds me of the blessing that was mine at birth and the great lengths to which others will go in an attempt to secure what was given to me. It reminds me too of my relationship with God and my own complete inability to obtain Righteousness. I see the pure gift of God, received by faith, that makes me a Citizen of Heaven being worked for by people of all faiths around the world. Unlike U.S. Citizenship, it's not hard to enter the Kingdom of Heaven... the price has already been paid, the process completed for all.

Friday was our last day in Africa, but to be honest, I stopped counting things in days and now count in hours. I've done way too many short trips this summer/fall, and "days" just no longer cut it! We were hoping to hit the market first thing in the morning, but our driver didn't show up. We would have called him, but no, the agency hadn't bothered to pay their phone bill at the guest house, oh, and the people with us didn't have any credit on their phones either. Welcome to Africa. It was OK... I know how to do this... Carl and I headed out and found a phone recharge for our cooks' phone. This didn't get us to the market, as the driver was busy, but we did get to call and tell friends we were supposed to meet that we weren't coming.

Instead, I caught a taxi over to the Care Center to look for some stuff I had left there. On the way I realized that it really wasn't that far and decided to walk back, shooting along the way. Ethiopians are not very camera friendly. They have this nasty little habit of being really friendly and waving and then freaking out when they realize that you really are going to use your camera on them. Amazing. It's a good thing I'm really fast! I do get gun-shy after being yelled at by the 10th person though...

Later in the afternoon Carl, Kelly, and I headed over to the market with Carl's friend Daniel. Historically I haven't been a huge fan of haggling over prices. I just figure that no matter how it goes, someone loses! If the shopkeeper is happy, that means I got ripped off, but if I'm happy, her kids don't eat that night. Lose-lose situation. Today I had fun. Actually... I kinda felt like Kristi Cook! :-) I guess I decided I didn't really care about getting the BEST price, I just wanted something I could live with and the cool stuff that I wanted. I even learned some new tricks. The best one is to give them less cash than the last price they gave you... One lady wanted to sell me a couple necklaces for 160 Birr. I told her 100. She came down to 120, but I just handed her a 100BR bill and she was happy. It helps to have exact change...

Souvenirs and gifts purchased, we headed back to the guest house to pack, eat, and zip off to the airport. It was hard for me to watch the agency workers say goodbye to Silas and Titus and Kelly's daughter. It was just really obvious that they genuinely love these kids. I KNOW that Silas and Titus will be loved, cared for, and have a better life with Carl and Angel than they had the potential for in Ethiopia, but they were still about to be taken far from their homeland and everything they had ever known. I guess few good things in life that come without sacrifice...

Our trip back was long... actually, it was the longest I've ever been on an airplane! The five-hour flight from Addis Ababa to Rome was followed by two hours of sitting on the plane in Rome while we refueled, etc., and 11 more hours to Washington Dulles. 18 hours in the back of a 767. Titus and Silas did amazing... I really can't imagine a better travel experience with two 2-year olds! What's even more amazing is that they speak no English... none! We couldn't even tell them what was going on. Customs and Immigration at IAD were no problem, our bags arrived, we connected to other flights, and were soon winging our way to Minneapolis. I was on different flights, but landed at MSP about the same time as Carl and Angel and met up with them at baggage claim. Some friends had come to meet them, as did the head of their adoption agency. One woman drove all the way from Omaha, NE to welcome them home! Both Carl and Angel were totally spent, so I drove us up to Saint Cloud and said goodbye as I dropped myself off at my parents' house.

Carl, Angel, I love you, and will travel with you anywhere, anytime! Thank you for the honor of being your photographer, travel companion, and friend on this HUGE adventure!

R

Be sure to check out Angel's blog at: http://lovedbeyondallmeasure.blogspot.com/

Herds of goats being shepherded through the streets is a common sight throughout Addis Ababa.

Dirt roads and corrugated metal shacks are a common sight in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Shoppers and merchants line the side of the road in a market area of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..

Shoppers and merchants line the side of the road in a market area of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..

A vendor passes the time reading as he waits for his next customer in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..

A young girl pauses from selling produce for a quick portrait in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

One of the better roads in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian woman beats the dust out of her rugs during morning cleaning in Addis Ababa.

An Ethiopian woman awaits public transportation by the side of the road in Addis Ababa..

An Ethiopian man checks out the latest bulletins on a public wall in Addis Ababa..

Ethiopian construction workers pause to wave and pose for the camera at a construction site in Addis Ababa..

A woman and her son make their purchases at a small street-side shop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..

An Ethiopian man walks down the street through a wealthy part of Addis Ababa..

A woman and her child beg through the window of an American's van in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia..

An Ethiopian woman carries a bundle of wood on her head in Addis Ababa.

Fresh Ethiopian coffee is roasted over a small charcoal brazier.
Yes... we really had coffee, freshly roasted over a charcoal brazier... :-)

Carl and Angel Larsen with their boys.
Carl, Angel, Silas, and Titus