Battling the breezes of late summer above the fallow fields of the North Country, this image might appear to be capturing the edge of a farm. In fact, this is the southeastern reach of St. Lawrence University’s rural campus. The stables, home of our IHSA riding team, are off in the distance.
Big green fields at the edge of a forest are perhaps not what I normally associate with a college campus, but St. Lawrence University’s barn (technically the Elsa Gunnison Appleton Riding Hall) is indeed on its campus. Though the main halls and dormitories are off in the distance at the right of the image, effectively this entire picture is St. Lawrence’s campus. The perks of being a rural college.
Every sport has its distinctive style—just has Western riders are known for cowboy boots, chaps, and denim, English riders have their own garb. Though the style is very formal when in the ring, I’m particularly interested by the array of patterns and colors hidden under collars and sleeves that are revealed when in the barn.
Even on this bright afternoon before a winter blizzard clamped down on central Wyoming, the cold and isolation of the state is astonishing. Each homestead seems mostly isolated, and the rolling hills give the illusion that the curvature of the Earth has been flipped inside-out. First settlers on a ringworld?
The Sun rises over the Adirondack foothills and St. Lawrence’s Elsa Gunnison Appleton Riding Hall. I was up early to fly the Phantom for a very particular reason: This weekend marks Derby Day, the completion of the 2016 St. Lawrence Summer Horse Show Series. Spectacular riding is on tap for Saturday!
The shapes of the hills of California are odd and impossible by the standards of the Northeast. In spite of my time spent there, my brain has still not adjusted to the angles—either in the distance or under my own feet when I’m there. On a charming horse farm that might be at home in the early twentieth century, the sunbaked scene is too real to be real.
Suddenly, the grass is infinitely green and thick and the trees have buds again. There’s this fundamentally Scandinavian feeling to the rolling hills and pine forests of the North Country that is best captured in spring and early summer. The world looks like a Bob Ross painting.
The grassy, rolling, limestone-based Kentucky countryside looks too perfect. Precise fencing geometries and gently rippling ponds are just too much. I’m reminded of the famous Microsoft Windows XP default wallpaper, “Bliss.” The key to making both images work, I think, is an overall very clean image with just enough small details and imperfections at the edges to show you that it must be real.
The narrow depth of field exaggerates an image that flashed past me in an instant while we traveled: a few children, playing in the crunchy remains of winter outside a barn. Ignoring the safety orange hat and the electrical conduit traveling up the side of the barn, and this seems like an image that could have come from any point in the past 150 years.
Here’s a little (huge panorama) teaser from an upcoming story I’ll have in Horse & Style Magazine, covering the barn and home of Olympic gold medal winner Beezie Madden. I was particularly enamored with this shot of the indoor ring, distorted to a fantastical shape by the panorama process. With all of this wood and wide beams, I can think of nothing more than a Viking longhouse (built at horse-scale, of course.)