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By MichaelBilottaPhotography    
An idea or concept can come from anywhere, at any time. Most of the time, you have to be vigilant and wait and watch for them to appear. Inspiring stories, songs, classic themes and myths can all feed the idea machine for my work. But the one place I never think to look is in my own backyard, so to speak, my town, my state. Since I have this week off from the dreaded day job, my partner and I were trying to find somewhere to go for the day, and as ever, I am looking for shots of landscape and objects for my composites. We decided to go to the Quabbin Reservoir, in Massachusetts - not too far from where I live. My first thought was, "what is there worth the time?"

After reading up on it, there was quite a lot to see, or rather, quite a lot there, but not visible now - it seems there was a history behind it.

The short version is that the reservoir was created to fill the need of the town of Boston and the outlaying areas, whose needs for water exceeded local supply. Four towns were utterly wiped off the map, bulldozed and the inhabitants forcibly removed from their homes to make room for this massive water supply. All buried bodies were relocated except for those of the Native Americans. The reservoir itself was named after a local tribal chief, Nani-Quaben, which means "well-watered place." Apparently there are still basements and foundations still under all that water, and remnants of towns now relegated to history. There are old roads that lead up to the water's edge, that once went into these drowned villages and towns.

Kind of eerie, though as far as I know, no one was killed in the process - the filling of the reservoir took nine years, between 1930 to 1939. But I can't help but think of the inhabitants who set down roots there, who fought for their homes all the way to the Supreme Court - but the needs of the masses outweighed all their concerns, and they were forcibly relocated. I think about the bodies of the Native Americans left behind, now in watery graves, and that's the spirit of this image I have made from many images captured at the site today with my camera.

The water in this image is the water from the reservoir, the rock wall behind the man is up above it, on the dam. The trees are from the surrounding hills, and the texture of the skin is from the stone face of an observation tower a few miles from Quabbin. The hats represent all the people driven from their homes, and the key stolen from above is meant to reference losing one's home, one's history. I think the man may represent the spirit of those driven out, or perhaps even the Native Americans who were driven out long before.

There's an irony that the townspeople who were driven from their homes repeated the sad demise of the original people of this land, the Native Americans, whose connection to the area was longer and more profound than the colonial settlers and their ancestors who eventually lost their homes on the same soil. Ironic also that the name of this man-made water source bears the name of a person from the local Native American tribe, whose name meant "well-watered place!"

Model: Felix P.

a blog showing all the (many) layers of this piece is available on my website, if you're interested in seeing the process layer by layer, please visit:

Tags: Specialist and abstract Digitally manipulated Digital art Portraits and people Flash and lighting

Voters: MattB1987, johnlw, Paree and 8 more

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johnlw 14 1 10 United Kingdom
20 Jun 2013 4:46PM
The image is a super piece of work and great use of layers. Your discription was well worth reading thanks for letting us in on your effort.
regards John.
Paree 16 616 3
20 Jun 2013 4:47PM
wonderful write up,
so sad as well,

"Man did not weave the web of life - he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."

Chief Seattle, 1854.
and he said many other wonderful things so true ,
but as usual,

(the ones who heed the call, are not the ones that need me)

and the key to open the door to all the answers,.mmmm

paree Grin
Thanks so much John, and Paree. Paree, I love that quote, thanks for sharing it with me!
bluesandtwos 11 521 1 England
20 Jun 2013 5:35PM
As usual, an amazing, well crafted image once again really enhanced by the background write up.

Part of me wants to view the various layers to see how the image was made but I fear looking at the individual components would destroy my concept of the image. A bit like dissecting a beautiful woman to find out what makes her beautiful.

Thanks Dave, I agree with that - behind the curtain can ruin things. People seem to want that though, so when I do a BIG EDIT one like this, I sometimes do the behind the layers thing as a help to those needing confidence with photoshop.

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