Tag Archives: upended life

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.

 

Altered Horizons 15

Altered Horizons 15 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops fake landscapes with contrived horizons in her effort to deal with change and loss.

It took nearly all summer to find my way back to the old laptop and Photo-shopping. Despite the heat and rain, the past three months I’ve only wanted to be outdoors. If I wasn’t hiking, I was out by the pond. Raking algae, pulling pondweed, scrubbing the slimy stairs leading into the pond, paddling around in the tiny plastic boat. Who am I now, and what is with me, that I can’t sit still? Now that I’d rather push myself to work away in the heat than sit cool and comfy, creating new landscapes in Photoshop?

And that blasted computer. Breaking down at my first attempt to create anything in weeks. It kinda confirmed that outside is where I’m meant to be, for now. In the woods. In the pond, in the weeds. Anywhere but in the house in front of a computer.

Altered Horizons 14

Altered Horizons 14 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops artificial created landscapes in dealing with depression and coping with loss.Altered Horizons 14

If you cannot find peace, you may need to create some yourself. It may not look or feel like anyone else’s peace. For a short while , standing by the pond in the evenings, I would play Taps on my coronet, feeling transported into a heavenly bliss. My neighbors probably felt like strangling me for disturbing their peace. These days I bring myself comfort and tranquility  photographing water, sky, and weeds swaying in wind, and then mixing them all together into a peaceful landscape in Photoshop.

Altered Horizons 13

Altered Horizons 13 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops artificial created landscapes in dealing with depression and coping with loss.Altered Horizons 13

Sometimes it feels like the sky is falling. It’s a feeling I have learned to love because I understand now that it is mostly the heaviness of the loss of my daughter. So I put a rose in a sky, and in the background I used scratchy and oozy-goozy textures from a bath towel and soap holder—to echo the rough and slippery sides of life.

Altered Horizons 12

Altered Horizons 12 Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops artificial horizons and fake landscapes in her ongoing therapy to deal with depression and cope with change.Altered Horizons 12

When my life was upended by loss I had to redefine myself and re-find my footing in the world. Recently I began fabricating landscapes, and became obsessed seeking stability and balance as I worked in Photoshop to create tiny micro-environments. I could concoct a horizon line even during bath time.