Friday, November 14, 2008

And an Island all to Myself... (almost)

Wild Horses

One of the illusions we like to create when we look at photographs is that the space is vacant but for us (the viewer) to travel into it. Pristine territory, uncharted and unspoiled. Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to Shackleford Banks with my son's scout troop and we camped on an uninhabited strip of land 9 miles long and at its most a mile wide. A beautiful varied ecosystem with wild horses, marshes, sea and sound. Truly uninhabited and a definite winner for photography and solitary wandering.

The ponies above are what some people in North Carolina call a banker pony. Really a horse but they are called ponies because they are smaller than some horses, as they grow only about 14 hands high due to harsh living conditions. In the 16th century, these horses ancestors came from Spain via Hispaniola to live on one of the islands off the coast of North Carolina that make up the Outer Banks. If you ask the residents of Harkers Island about the horses, they will tell you that they have always been there. That they swam ashore from sinking ships long before the English came. Shackleford Banks, where they live, is only nine miles long and is located just east of Morehead City and Beaufort North Carolina. You can read more about them here

The little island of Shackleford banks is considered an Outer Bank of North Carolina meaning it faces the Ocean on one side and a sound on the other and a trek of a mile or so each way will easily get you from one side to the other. The environments on this island are many as its like a desert in some places a swamp in many others. The ponies prefer the sound side as its not as windy and more grass grows there. The ocean side beach has many thousands of perfect beautiful shells that are not collected by people very often as the island is uninhabited.

The horses roam the dunes and marshes and swim in the small channels between the Shackleford Banks and the nearby tidal flats, which ebb-out on the low tides and disappear again with the next high tide. They have survived where man could not. They have endured through hurricanes, droughts, north-easters, so'westers, and the centuries.


ann marie said...

And that is great, compositionally, too. To be able to dispose of that space in photography and not having to frame this and that out, but frame it in :)

Also when shots are too tightly framed one does not feel free in them. The eye must be able to wander a bit. Strong feats, these.

Madison Guy said...

This is really beautiful, Holden, text along with photo. Brings back wonderful memories of wandering among the wild horses at Assateague Island further to the north many years ago.