Little Red Horse

Little Red Horse

This image is a composite from several photos. It is one of my favorite techniques.

So many images that I shoot of horses these days have to be in a contained area (well, actually almost all except those in Wyoming and those horses are contained by cowgirls!), that it’s hard to get that sense of freedom seeing a horse brings to us.

After all, there’s nothing freeing about being inside an iron fence, right?

So I often remove backgrounds and put effects like this in place.

The cool thing is, horses can feel free inside an arena — and to watch them let loose is so much fun. This little guy could just have easily been running on the plains or flying across a mountain pasture. In his mind, the wind and the speed and the feeling were not contained within the iron rails. Horses truly live in the moment, and they live the moment to the fullest of its potential. Sometimes the potential is speed. Sometimes it’s to work with a human. Sometimes it’s just simply the act of being. There’s a lesson there.

Raccoon Skull with Ironweed

Raccoon Skull with Ironweed

A few weeks ago — well, exactly one month ago Friday — we went on a sojourn to the Crossroads district of Kansas City for First Friday. There, we discovered the most amazing shop called Oracle. A place full of all kinds of curiosities — skulls, taxidermy, bones, teeth, feathers. A shop FULL of items forsaken. Their website is http://www.oraclekc.com.

You can imagine my immediate fascination.

The visit reminded me of a project I’d begun a long time ago: to photograph skulls with flowers. Inspired partly by my deep interest in all things left behind; partly because of my long time enchantment with skulls and bones; and partly because I’m a huge fan of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings of skulls and flowers.

I photographed a racoon skull with some lilacs. And then I got busy with 1000 other things. But the project has always stayed on my mind.

Over the past few years, I’ve been collecting and borrowing skulls of all shapes and sizes. My friends and relatives have become aware of my desire to get more skulls and so I now routinely receive skulls and bones as holiday gifts (thank you cousin Ron!). It makes for great conversation when there is a skull peeking out of a holiday themed bag in the back seat of my truck. Nick and Billy also collect them from everywhere. Many are from our farm from animals who have passed naturally, wild and domestic. Some are from hunting where the animal was taken for food or as population control. The collection is becoming quite extensive. (And, yes, I can always use more, so if you have one to give or loan, let me know!)

So, to make a long story longer, I came home from July First Friday’s all enthused. Nick was kind enough to get some of the skulls out of the still packed boxes in the shop. I set up a studio in our new basement and, viola, one month later we have photos of skulls and flowers. In true procrastinator style, I managed to cut the last of the Queen Ann’s lace (at dark) and pair it with a coyote skull. As an afterthought, I snatched a batch of Missouri ironweed growing among the Queen Ann’s and there you go — Raccoon Skull with Missouri Ironweed. Below is Coyote Skull with Queen Ann’s lace in color and infrared. I think I like the infrared version better. Click to enlarge the photos below.

About the Forsaken Gallery

Forsaken objects fascinate me.

What we leave behind, abandon, relinquish, disown, junk, dump and scrap absolutely amazes me. It says a lot about who we are as a culture, that forsaken objects are in abundance throughout our world. It says a lot about an individual as to what unique forsaken objects he or she has discarded.

Junk and junk yards have been a favorite photographic haunt of mine since my very first camera. Some of the very first images I made were of disavowed items. They are a favorite subject in this blog. They include everything from living breathing animals to houses; tractors to Anastazi Ruins; trucks to trinkets; skulls to shells.

How to Talk with a Horse

How to Talk with a Horse

To talk to a horse
you will have to
learn a new language —
one more subtle than
English, more
intricate than
Mandarin,
more delicate
than French,
more passionate
than Spanish.

Its rhythm is in
the details.
Its poetry is in
the motion.

It is a language
of the soul
whispered
through the body.

You should begin
by learning
to be silent.
Observing
ears and whiskers,
perceiving
a shimmy of flesh,
understanding
a shift of weight,
regarding
the slight of an eyebrow,
construing
the flick of a tail.

Then practice
until you master how
to speak
with your balance,
to express
with your energy,
to reveal
through your heart.

If you are consistent,
a consummate student,
a devoted truth teller,
the horse will talk back —
will whisper the secret
of all life and beyond
straight into your soul
through the warmth
of his breath.