Altered Horizons 29

Altered Horizons 29 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a fabricated landscape from the treasures to be found at Upstate Shredding.

Altered Horizons 29

There were gigantic mountains of various sorted materials at the scrapyard. And one was gleaming. The photography students were being guided through the eerie landscape of Upstate Shredding in Owego, New York, a scene one might easily view as depressing, especially on a damp sunless day. The junkyard was filled with huge mounds of smashed cars, old abandoned appliances, and all the broken used-up detritus of modern human life. So I was drawn to whatever light I could find. As we approached the base of the glittering mountain, I noticed the ground was littered with softly shimmering metals, the remains of cutouts from the tops and bottoms of tin cans. Gold and silver riddled the muddy ground.

It reminded me of the time, as a kid, I discovered lots of quarters dropped in the street. It also brought to mind the line, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” For me, in the midst of all the waste, it was like finding a veritable treasure. I photographed the heck out of it. We all did.

Later, when I surveyed the images I’d shot, the mountain looked like a dark but gaudy pile of garbage under a dull sky. In Photoshop, I turned a picture of the tin-riddled mud upside down, inverted it into a negative, and pumped up the highlights to bring forth a moon.

 

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Altered Horizons 28

Altered Horizons 28 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a landscape out of a nyckelharpa as she deals with depression and copes with the loss of her child.

The girl told me, “Jesus loves you.” She was always telling me this. Or texting me. She said this to others as well and it sometimes made them uncomfortable. But to me, even though I’d never had anything to do with Jesus, it was like music to my ears.

“I’m pretty sure Jesus loves you too,” I texted back to the girl, not knowing how to respond but imagining this was something she’d like to hear from someone else.

How could I not feel warmed by a message of love after all the negative, demeaning, hateful remarks too often being conveyed these days, especially by leaders, government officials, celebrities, and others who get widely heard? Just because someone or something is different from what one is familiar with, people shouldn’t be degrading in their communications.

Every weekend this past summer there was sweet music coming from next door. “Nyckelharpa,” the musicians called the strange instrument I had never seen before. And although I couldn’t dance to the unfamiliar rhythms of the Balkan music they played, the elaborate haunting tunes always filled me with joy.

 

 

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Altered Horizons 27

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

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

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

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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