Altered Horizons 40

Altered Horizons 40 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a fabricated landscape, a bodyscape, from a human face.

Making a landscape from a human face. I thought I’d try this, at least once. So I took a negative image of an old classmate and pasted it onto a mackerel sky. My effort was going well enough until I tried to add scattering, the fine white haze that one sees at the horizon. That lightening up of the sky at the farthest point one can see, just before it disappears beyond the nearer more solid landform, has always drawn my focus. But I guess I should have highlighted it more subtly. My photography instructor, who knows all about capturing light and making light work, wasn’t buying it.

Altered Horizons 40

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Altered Horizons 39

Altered Horizons 39 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a fabricated landscape in dealing with seasonal affective disorder and loss.

Praying for sun. Although the winter sun in Upstate New York is cold and bleak, just a few hours of it can help melt huge snow mountains flanking both sides of doorways and driveways. All this snow would be depressing except that it sneaks up on you, falling silently from the sky either in fat fluffy flakes or tiny hard hail-pebbles. Either way it’s a surprisingly beautiful event even without the sun.

There was a mysterious dark disc seated in the middle of the pebbly rooftop at Cornell’s Heating Plant. For me, it immediately became a hardened gloomy sun in a sky dense with snowfall.

Altered Horizons 39

 

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Altered Horizons 38

Altered Horizons 38 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops fabricated landscapes in dealing with depression and coping with grief and loss.

In the next year or two I will move away from my house by Moonbeckon Pond. The thing I will miss most is my view of the sparkling pond right outside the large south-facing windows. A hundred times each day, my eyes rest on that sight; from the early morning light until the darkness of nighttime, the sight of that pond calms me. The place I will move to has no water features. The landscape consists of row upon row of attached houses and parking areas. When I no longer have my pond to gaze upon, in order to soothe my sore eyes, I will need to have created landscapes to hang on my new walls.

Although this scene was collaged in Photoshop using items of sentimental value—a foreground made up of several shots of my kids’ old dog-robot toy, a sky crafted from grillwork in Australia’s Old Melbourne Jail, a moon that is from the bottom of a bowl of my mother’s that’s been with me over half a century, and a frame pieced together from drainage strips on the doorstep of my current beloved home—this is not the landscape that will settle my soul.

Altered Horizons 38

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Altered Horizons 37

 

Altered Horizons 37 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a landscape fabricated from the back of a dog as she ponders the death of pets inherited by bereaved parents.

 

At Barton Valley Farm, dogs followed the photography students as we traipsed through the fields. I was trying to focus on the horses but this dog kept creeping into my view. I don’t know what kind of dog it was but it was very friendly and had great hair.

My own dog, Suki, is so old that the county clerk phoned me this year before mailing out the annual dog license renewal, “Is Suki still with us?”

Surprised by the call, I told her the dog I inherited from my daughter eleven years ago was indeed still here.

“Well, bless her little heart,” the clerk replied. And I do. Every day. Because I’ve seen, from others whose inherited dogs die, that when this dog goes it could be like losing my daughter all over again.

 

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Altered Horizons 36

Altered Horizons 36 Robin Botie of Ithaca, new York, photoshops fabricated landscapes as therapy for depression and entertainment for all the time spent at home alone.

Walking through a snow-dusted field on a windy night is what I was imagining. If you rotate this picture ninety degrees counterclockwise, maybe you can see the rump-end of a horse with its tail hanging down the left side. Turned around, the muddy and matted tail makes a dark blustery sky. On the bottom, under the horse’s groin, I added a small portion of the horse’s backside to make it look like there was another hill in the landscape.

For me, fabricating these landscapes in Photoshop is like creating tiny, fresh, nonpolitical, unpolluted worlds. It’s therapy for depression as well as entertainment for all the time spent home alone. And it’s a wish for a kinder world with less dissonance.

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Altered Horizons 35

Altered Horizons 35 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a landscape of steely sharp objects to illustrate that life can be hard.

It was not one of my better days. The sun was cruel and cold in a colorless sky on the morning a container of blueberries fell and burst all over the front seat of my car. I continued on with my errands, getting caught at every traffic light on the way downtown, picking up mashed berries each time I stopped for a red light. Finally at the county offices, I found a good parking spot but the pay station kept rejecting my credit card and I had no coins on me. So I dashed in to quickly to pick up the papers I needed. And, as I’d feared, my car was ticketed by the time I got back out.

Life can be harsh. Some days it’s difficult to leave the safety and comfort and predictability of home. My photography shoots don’t always end up in cozy lit studios, green valleys with pretty horses, or intriguing mountains of material wastes. At Cornell’s Hydroplant and Lake Source Cooling Plant there were ridged metal plates, grates and grinders, and all sorts of machinery with moving parts. Signs warned, “Keep Back,” and I did. And later, in Photoshop, I collaged several steely sharp-looking parts to create a hard merciless sun over a landscape of mashing metal.

Altered Horizons 35

 

 

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