on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

End frame: Conception Rock by Michael Lundgren

James Popp chooses one of his favourite images

James Popp

After a varied career in biology, accounting, and commercial banking, I now spend time hiking, birding, and photographing in the state forest near my home in Wisconsin. When doing those times my life is ruled by three golden retrievers.


In Michael Lundgren’s Conception Rock, two spherical shapes loom out of the darkness. While they appear large, the scale is not clear cut. At first glance, what they are or whether they even belong to this world or not is an open question. The lighting in the photograph only highlights the mystery. There is darkness with the light seeming to come from different directions. The light perhaps makes the spheres seem stranger in the photograph than they probably are in real life. Are they seed pods, vegetables, or something alien?

For Conception Rock, the presence of some very old graffiti both gives some scale to the object and makes one aware that the objects are from this world. The spheres are in fact structures left behind on what was once a seabed and now survive with only minimal decay in a desert environment.

The explanation that the spheres are just ancient remains does not seem to be adequate to me. I look at the photograph and feel a need for more of an explanation. It is not just the subject, but how the photographer has presented the subject. By questioning what is being seen in the photograph, I am being drawn more deeply into the scene and want to know more. What are the forces that would create such an object? Not asking strictly from a geological or biological perspective, but perhaps also from a spiritual level.

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