Great Plains

Recollections, No. 2: “Acuity”

Acuity

Acuity

The Recollections project is about memory: how it is formed, the illusions within, and its temporal existence. What are our memories?

The goal: To make us question the very nature of our own “reality.” In that reality, how sharp is our own version of our past, and of others’ pasts?

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Branches, Thomas County

Branches, Thomas County

Branches, Thomas County

On a cold November day, the humanity and chaos of these branches called to me as the last light of evening faded. Loneliness took me as I watched them, and as is typical for me, an image soon followed.

 

Rodeo Roper Family, Arthur

Rodeo Roper, Arthur

Rodeo Roper, Arthur

A storm rolling in on the horizon, a rodeo roper, his wife, his dog and his portable steer offered a compelling chance for an image with insights into the summer rodeo life in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Elm Tree Mushroom, Hastings

Elm Tree Mushroom, Hastings

Elm Tree Mushroom, Hastings

The environment is changing: As witness, one only need look about. If that sounds familiar to the photographers among us, it should, since it is our daily ritual to soak in the aroma of the visions with which we are greeted. But when I saw this mushroom on a tree little more than a quarter mile from my front door, I halted. Here was evidence that all is not right. Why? Although it’s perhaps common to find mushrooms of all sorts in Nebraska and the Great Plains, this one is special: It’s larger than a human brain, and weighs in at more than three pounds, the product of an abnormally rainy and humid summer.

Diversity

Diversity

Diversity

One of my dearest friends announced his retirement today, and I’m devastated. Heartbroken.

The moment has left me pondering the temporary nature of our perceived permanence; in other words, our propensity to assume, incorrectly, the relative order of our lives. And yet all is entropy in the end.

It made me think of this image, one I made this summer in response to the timeless, yet disparate nature of the scene at hand.

School Bus, Grant

School Bus, Grant

School Bus, Grant

My dear friend and former assistant Liz McCue and I were at an antique-car auction on Saturday morning, and as I told Liz, I went into the event looking for more images that illustrated my ideas about the chaff and decay of humanity’s past as viewed through the present.

Wild Horse Race, Bartlett

Wild Horse Racing, Bartlett

Wild Horse Racing, Bartlett

I love shooting rodeos–after all, they’re the subject of my next book. And at rodeos, wild horse races are by far one of the most energizing, terrifying events for a photographer. Horses and people bucking and running and shouting and riding all mean lots of danger, and that’s a certainty if one isn’t careful.

But the photos are worth it.

Boy in Inflatable House, Bartlett

Boy in Inflatable House, Bartlett

Boy in Inflatable House, Bartlett

I’ve always found textures a worthwhile and intoxicating tool for making photographs, as well as frames-within-frames, so when I found this inflatable house at the Wheeler County Fair and a boy playing inside, I stuck around for a bit–and was rewarded.

Rodeo Cowboys, Arthur

Rodeo Cowboys, Arthur

Rodeo Cowboys, Arthur

Rodeo stops for nothing. Nothing.

A massive storm rolled through the skies over Arthur, Nebraska, for the Saturday performance at the rodeo, complete with massive wind, torrential rains, and…lightning. Big bolts of lightning. But no one moved, especially the cowboys.

And so the festivities continued, and so did I, photographing–and I was rewarded with the storm and sunset and visual drama and…this image.