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Altered Horizons 27 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops fabricated landscapes to deal with her depression and cope with loss during the Thanksgiving holiday.

There are many pieces to this holiday, Thanksgiving. I used to be into it solely for the feasting until I had children and discovered the part about being grateful and generous. Then, after my daughter died and I lost my gratitude and graciousness for a while, I dreaded holidays. It took a long time to discover that the caring of others was what would fix my battered heart. Thanksgivings became warm welcome gatherings as family and/or friends assembled to celebrate and commiserate, to listen and to share.

This week’s fabricated landscape is an assemblage of images I gathered together from several different outings I took with my photography class this semester. At the Old Souls Home in Owego, NY I found (and later reshaped in Photoshop) an antique golden frame and a set of old tin tart pans. The bristly scrub brush was lying abandoned on a windowsill at Cornell’s Hydroplant. The grates and grills were at Cornell’s Lake Source Cooling Plant. I photoshopped the fluted outer frame from a tractor’s yellow-painted running board that I photographed at University Sand and Gravel in Brooktondale, NY. As in many Thanksgiving gatherings, the collection of characters may be eclectic but the mix makes for a cozy coming together anyway.

 

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Altered Horizons 26 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a landscape from the ceiling at Cornell University's Lake Source Coolong Plant in her efforts in dealing with depression, coping with loss and seasonal affective disorder.

Send me some sun. Need more sunlight now, please. Trying not to complain but it’s been pretty dim around here lately. It’s driven me to light candles, sit for hours before a sunlamp, and beg my best friend to build campfires. Depressed. Desperate. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Already. It’s only November. Winter hasn’t even started yet and I’m missing the sun.

On a class trip to Cornell University’s Lake Source Cooling Plant, lying flat on my back as if on a beach, I stared at the ceiling and focused on the disc-like thing that stood out amid the chaotic collection of apparatus up there. Then, in Photoshop, I tried to turn the thing into a warm, welcoming heavenly body. But there’s nothing quite like our solar system’s beautiful star.

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Altered Horizons 25 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops horse love, a great medicine for the healing of loss nd grief.

At Barton Valley Farm in Freeville, New York, the horses were warm and welcoming. They seemed delighted about the small group of photography students jockeying around them in the muddy pasture to get the best shots. Having the smallest camera in the group, I wondered if any of the other photographers were experiencing the same problem I was as the horses kept smushing their snouts into my lens. At one point while I was clicking away to get a close-up of one horse’s nose, two other horses closed in behind me sniffing and gently puffing, maybe even nibbling a bit, at my hair. In the middle of the three, it felt like I was being hugged. Great medicine for healing from loss and grief.

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Altered Horizons 24 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a uselss non-functioning fan into a sun in a fabricated landscape as she recovers from side effects of her COVID booster.

The day after I got my COVID booster I could barely move. There was no way I would be able to do anything useful. Feeling old and sore and exhausted, I hung about the house hoping no one would find me in my embarrassingly lifeless state.

At Cornell’s Hydroplant, days before, I’d photographed this old fan. It was standing still in the middle of the churning, pulsing, loud busy-ness of the place. Everything around it seemed shiny and polished. But dust and debris clogged the fan’s blades; it looked like it had been sitting there useless for decades, like it would never be able to function again. The ancient thing wasn’t performing, wasn’t contributing. It wasn’t even particularly beautiful. Why was it there?

Lovingly, in Photoshop, I turned it into a huge sun taking up all the sky.

 

 

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Altered Horizons 23 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a fabricated landscape as her way of dealing with depression and coping with child loss.

It isn’t just that there’s been a ton of rain. The sky has been gray for days, sometimes with fat clouds lumbering across, and sometimes it’s like an empty sky-in-waiting: plain dull white, like anything might materialize from it and fall to the earth. More rain. Hail. Snow.

It’s not even November yet and I’m aching for the summer sun.

At nearby University Sand and Gravel there were magnificently rusted tractors and old equipment painted yellow and red. That thing in the middle of tires—what’s it called? A wheel maybe—was screaming to me that it had a greater purpose than holding together some ancient truck. Perhaps it could hold ME together. Until springtime when it’s warm and bright out again. I planted the wheel high in my fabricated landscape to turn it into a sun. Next, I was going to paste in a strip of rocks to create a horizon line and foreground, but the only natural bright light I’d managed to capture in my photo was creeping up from the bottom. I couldn’t bear to cover it up.

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Altered Horizons 22 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a fabricated landscape of rocks and stones in her dealing with grief and loss and depression.

At University Sand and Gravel in Brooktondale, NY, there were mountains and mountains of rocks. Scooped up and lifted onto conveyor belts, rocks and stones were sorted and then dropped into huge piles. Walking around them on a hot sunny day, I was reminded of how my grief had felt: endless, heavy, hard, cold. Pummeling. My thoughts turned to mining accidents and death by avalanche. But there was also something jolly about the intermingling of the almost-blue momma-bear, poppa-bear, and baby-bear sized boulders. I imagined a moonscape.