Waiting for stillness: Photographer Ben Horne captures nature in moments of serenity

“Soul of the Ancients” by Ben Horne.

Ben Horne creates images of calm in a turbulent world.

Armed with old-fashioned, large format cameras, the photographer embarks on a solitary quest for intimate views of the American landscape.bright spot

Converge Las Cruces Gallery is showcasing Horne’s photography online at convergelascruces.com with “Between the Wind: Photographs by Ben Horne.” His images capture moments of serenity in Utah’s Zion National Park, Escalante National Monument, the California Redwoods, Death Valley and more in startling color and clarity.

“Seasons Between,” 2020, by Ben Horne.
“Oil and Leaves” by Ben Horne.

Born and raised in San Diego, Horne left San Diego University with a degree in graphic arts just as the crash of 2008 collided with so many dreams. He was working at a struggling camera store, where he volunteered to furlough himself by doing solo photography work. He went on five trips, covering Zion National Park, Death Valley National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

“I thought, ‘This is my excuse to do this full time,’ ” he said. “I just enjoy getting out there in nature and not being preoccupied by going from point A to point B.”

He takes his time searching for the unique, the moment or scene most of us would miss. His photograph of the Death Valley salt flats surrendering to an approaching storm resembles a honeycomb of shapes.

“Serendipity” by Ben Horne.

“I was sitting on the salt flats waiting for the clouds to go by,” he said. “You don’t have that opportunity when you have a full-time job.”

Using a 4-by-4- or an 8-by-10-inch camera can be a deliberate process. It takes him 15 minutes to set up on a good day.

“It slows you down,” Horne said. “It’s like using a typewriter as opposed to a computer.”

“The quality is better than anything that can be done digitally,” he explained. “It

“Approaching Storm,” 2010, by Ben Horne.

gives a sense of permanence. You can walk away from the scene feeling like you’ve done it justice.”

“Life Force” shows a weathered juniper against the red canyon rocks of Utah’s Escalante National Monument. Horne backpacked into the area to get the shot.

The tree “has a little swirl to it, a little bit of character,” he said. “I look for things that tell a story of adversity as opposed to perfection.”

“Life Force,” 2017, by Ben Horne. (Courtesy of Converge Las Cruces)

He captured layers of fall leaves swimming in a pool of royal blue oil at Zion National Park.

“There’s all these natural oils that leak up from the ground,” he explained. “You get these really cool reflections.”

Horne nearly missed the red maple leaf choked in ice in “Seasons Between,” also taken at Zion.

“I was walking through a wash and I found a red maple leaf that had fallen and frozen in a pond,” he said. “I like to find subjects that are hidden in plain sight.”

“Self-Portrait,” 2019, by Ben Horne.

“Serendipity” captures a tree improbably growing at The Narrows, a Zion National Park gorge.

“It’s a narrow river canyon,” he said. “It’s a box elder with some good color on it. The wall behind it is filled with moss because it had just rained. A few days later and it was gone.”

In his perfect version of a slowed-down world, Horne would have an hour or so to set up a photograph. The exhibition title is deliberate.

“Reverence,” 2019

“I’m looking for those moments when the wind calms down,” Horne said. “Otherwise, the leaves move funnily and the camera begins to shake.”

He started on his next solitary venture back to Zion in October. The show marks the first time he has exhibited his work in New Mexico. Horne has never photographed the state.

“It’s on my list,” he said.

His work can also be found at benhorne.com.

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