Tag Archives: coping with change

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.

 

 

Altered Horizons 21

Altered Horizons 21 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York photoshops fabricated landscapes to heal from child loss and depression.

For most of my life I was searching for someone, wishing for someone. A soul mate, a partner, my other half—maybe. But recently I decided that I, myself, could become that person I was hoping to find.

In these fabricated landscapes I compose, often it just seems like something’s missing, like there ought to be a sun. So I concoct a sun of sorts. It’s not the same as a real one, but it fills space in an empty sky. And it satisfies my need to feel the scene is complete.

Altered Horizons 20

Altered Horizons 20 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops fabricated landscapes in dealing with depression and coping with loss.

Long ago, someone told me I shined like Christmas. Even though it came from a stranger, I have never forgotten those words. Better than being told I was beautiful, “shining” was something I believed I was capable of. For years after, I did shine. I radiated, loved and was loved back. These days, though, I mostly feel worn down and chewed up. Like the light in me has been extinguished.

My friend shakes her head at me, “Why are you photographing the worst-looking plants in my garden?”

“They’re more interesting than the perfect ones,” I said. But it’s more than that. I’m drawn to survivors, to the ones with scars who, though maybe not always beautiful, have a mighty shining about them anyway. It might be evidence of my still unbroken hope that, even in the wormiest cabbage, I can see a sun.

 

Altered Horizons 18

Altered Horizons 18 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York photoshops a fabricated landscape of the week in her ongoing healing from loss and dealing with depression.

To save my pond from choking, I raked long sheets of algae out of it and tossed them into great piles on the banks. Desperate to save their cruelly upended lives, snails and other tiny creatures wriggled in the folds of the stuff. I threw it all off into nearby bushes. But not before photographing the exquisite felting of the raw fibers.

Much later I came upon the photo of the white allium ball I’d shot earlier, and knew I had found my landscape of the week.

Altered Horizons 17

Altered Horizons 17 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a fabricated landscape using old photos instead of newer shots of aged plants, and wonders why we can't appreciate the beauty in aging.

At the beginning of summer I photographed fresh hostas and dahlias in my garden, well before the ravages of time, heat, rabbits and slugs, too much rain, and not enough rain. Early September’s photo-shoot of the same patch of plants showed brown-tipped, yellowed and nibbled leaves with dusty spider webs between them. For my contrived landscape this week, I decided to go with the earlier photos. Transporting them to Photoshop, I crafted the young dahlia into a sun rising over a field of bright raindrop-splattered hostas.

Walking along a trail with friends recently, our conversation somehow turned from comparing favorite foods at Trader Joe’s to lamenting about our growing old. It seems many of us are now experiencing devastating loss of our former beautiful, strong, young and healthy selves. And it’s kinda sad how we view our aging faces and bodies as pathetically imperfect. Not particularly eager to display my current bespectacled, slightly wrinkled appearance, I, myself, have not updated my profile photo in years.

In Photoshop, I manipulated images of a favorite ancient scarf to frame this picture. Graceful aging, in some things like vintage clothing, is respected. Valued, even.

There are no great mysteries to sort out in this fabricated landscape. Except, maybe, why I chose to use July’s photos of the greener, fresher plants instead of the dusty, more interesting, older ones I’d just shot. Why is it we can’t appreciate the natural maturing of living things as they approach the ends of their lifetimes?

Altered Horizons 16

Altered Horizons 16 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, Photoshops fabricated landscapes in her dealing with depression and coping with loss.

We used to dance. When she was very young I’d swing my daughter around under the moon on a sandy beach. On a crowded dance floor, or in the living room, I sang as we twirled together. Now, my soothing nightly grief ritual: humming the old tunes to the ghost of my daughter. One of the songs always brings up images of blithe spirits waltzing around the moon.

Here my moon is really the rock that holds a bug screen down over my garden. Wilted lettuce plants are the dancers. A wave of foamy residue left on the shore by the receding tide becomes my horizon line. The whole scene is framed with the drainage strip that lies beneath my front door, spliced and inverted in Photoshop.

Walt Whitman, in his “Songs of Myself” from Leaves of Grass, wrote, “If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.” There, where my feet tread, is where I mainly focus the camera.