For someone like me who’s had a lifelong fascination with the American West it was an enduring site; a look back at a scene that was surely played out time and again over a century ago in places like Deadwood, Tombstone or Dodge City. This time it was right in front of me in Virginia City, Nevada a former mining town with its own wild west credentials. While photographing the cemetery I saw, just downslope, a wild horse wandering among the decaying gravestones, stopping occasionally to graze on the yellow and gray patchwork of brittle sagebrush.
I wasn’t in love with the shot that presented itself from where I stood. Even with my long lens the lighting was far less than ideal. I needed to be on the other side of the horse, and hopefully closer. The photographer’s dilemma of taking a chance with the sure shot that I had or get greedy and try to position myself for a better one. There was the possibility of that frameable photo or of the horse moving on and taking the opportunity along with him. I opted for greed and took a long circle around the horse, managing to get within about 20 yards of the animal, still ambling around the gravestones. The horse continued to graze pausing now and then to glance at me as if making sure that I wasn’t intruding into his no fly zone. At times I wonder if these horses have it in their minds to patiently tolerate we humans before deciding that they’ve given us enough of an audience before trotting away; “Hurry up and get your picture taking done.” I got some shots that I’m not entirely thrilled with but still they are iconic, calling up a uniquely American story.
Below: This trio of horses meandered through the cemetery grazing on the sagebrush. Note the wound (common on mustangs) on the left side of the black horse.