Tag Archives: photoshopping for healing

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.

Altered Horizons 36

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.



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.


Altered Horizons 23

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.

Altered Horizons 22

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.


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.