Author: Mike Ross

My name is Mike Ross and I have obsessive compulsive photography disorder, although I consider this a somewhat healthy obsession. Compared to some of my past addictions and obsessions, this one is a walk in the park. I was born in New York City, spent most of my life on Long Island (pronounced Lawn Guyland), and am now living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I am currently using a Sony A6000 with a 35mm f/1.8 lens and a Sony RX100. All photos are from RAW files processed using Lightroom, Photoshop and occasionally HDR software.

Emotional Rescue

Scaredy Cats
Scaredy Cats

So I’m driving down a backroad in the middle of nowhere when I see a van pull over and out of the corner of my eye I spot what looks like an animal up a tree. I quickly turned around thinking it might make an interesting photo.

It seemed that two large cats were stuck in a tangle of branches attached to a telephone pole. The woman with the van was noticeably upset and borrowed a ladder from a farmhouse nearby.

Now I’m basically a nice guy, I help old ladies cross the street and give money to the homeless though I’ve never rescued a cat and wasn’t sure if they really needed rescuing, but I got out with camera in hand.

Being a former house painter I’m very familiar with ladders and know that if you set them in the mud and climb to the top you end up on your ass. But after five or six tries I managed to reach the first cat and grab him.

The second one either liked the view up there or was panicking and refused to let go. Out of frustration I got off the ladder and pulled at the branches until the cat was within reach and pried his claws free.

The woman wrapped them both in a blanket to put in her van with two dogs who were watching the whole thing. I wondered what she was going to do with them and figured the dogs would probably have them for breakfast.

After it was all over she thanked me and my emotions were running high. I was annoyed that I didn’t take a few more shots, my mind was racing with thoughts of post processing and I had to pee.

There are a million stories in the naked county; this has been one of them.

Ride Along

Wise Guys
Wise Guys

I was on my way home the other day and stopped by these horses that were very busy frolicking in the mud. I tried to get them to come close enough for a photo but they ignored me.

Then I remembered how I used to get my dog’s attention by asking her if she wanted to go for a ride in the car. So I stood by the fence and said: Wanna go for a ride? Nothing. Then I said: Wanna go for a ride in the car?

The white horse slowly walked over and looked at me like I was crazy. Then he turned to his friend and said: This guy ain’t from around here is he Bo? And Bo said: No Jack, he’s probably a New Yorker.

I figured it must have been my accent. Fuhgeddaboudit.

The Master Appears

Master Al
Master Al

My good friend Alena Shminke who is also a therapist was trying to cheer me up this morning and wrote: “I think animals are basically happy because they just live in their bodies and that’s all. And btw, they don’t read Nietzsche.”

Since she lives in Estonia I thought it might be easier to talk to an animal face to face and see what he had to say. I met a woman who was feeding chickens and goats cookies and lasagna, which I thought was completely normal.

Al wasn’t interested, possibly because he was on a Keto diet so he came up to chat. Not knowing exactly what to say I asked: what is enlightenment? And he replied, when hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.

Knowing that this was the truth, I thanked him and asked, then what? He told me to come back at the golden hour, use a wider aperture, low ISO and get the color right which pissed me off. So I shot him.

They All Look Alike

Stunned by Stereotypes
Stunned by Stereotypes

Yesterday I sent my friend Alena a photo of a horse modeling his new coat and she thought it was the same horse as in several of my other shots. But in fact I had never met that one before.

I saw this guy at Walmart this morning and had to take a few pictures. I told him how some people think all horses look alike and he seemed shocked, but we both know that the real difference is the horse’s nose.

This one has a traditional Amish nose, probably because he’s an Amish horse. If you look closely you can also see a bump which may indicate that he was a boxer at one time before he took this job.

There is even something called Physiognomy which is a practice of assessing a person’s character or personality from their outer appearance, especially the face. While this may not be used much with horses the principle is the same.

After meeting with several horses today and assessing their character by the shape of their nose I can tell you one thing for sure. The ones with this type of nose do not like to be photographed.

They shake their head, stomp their feet and make strange faces, especially the former boxers. But with a little patience and no sudden movements they will eventually calm down enough to let you get a good shot.

Note: Most horses like to hear a good “horse walks into a bar” joke as long as the punch line isn’t “why the long face?”