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  • Writer's pictureMark Heathcote

The end of the wild horse chase.

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

In a previous article (Chasing Jesse Marlow's White Horse) I described how I was trying to track down Jesse's white horse photograph. My reason was to understand Jesse's process and the conditions that led to him taking the image.

That photograph can be seen below, and the original article can be found on this blog.

Searching for Jesse Marlow's horse
I am going to find this damn horse.

So, I had given up and moved on to other things when 12 months later Jesse asked me if I had ever found the horse, weirdly while I just happened to be in Melbourne, (where his photograph had been taken).

I suggested that either the store must have moved, or the tram barrier had gone. Jesse assured me that it was still there and that he had passed it just the other day.

Annoyingly, I now needed to resurface this whole treasure hunt. He offered to give a hint, but I was sure I could locate this now that I knew it was still there to be found. Plus I had a few ideas up my sleeve yet.


I decided to cheat a little. If I could grab his image into Lightroom and raise the shadows, it might provide some more context of the scene around or reveal other clues. This should be easy - only it wasn't. There are no details to be recovered in the shadows whatsoever. That may be a result of the JPG conversion, his perfect original exposure (pfff), or something to do with his post processing techniques. Either way, that approach didn't work.

I analysed the sun angle based on the catch-lights, worked out the likely time of day and direction of road. I did discover that the sun is in the north in Australia, it still rises in the East. I can't get my head round that, but apparently it is true. The southern hemisphere is just plain weird. It explains a lot.

This is most likely to happen in the morning. I think.

I searched Google maps, looking for 'Paint Spot' stores (see the previous article which explains that these horses appear outside their stores) on a tram line that goes roughly east - west. Easy, surely. As it turned out I was heading down a rabbit hole.

I once again looked at every Paint Spot store in the Melbourne area on Google Street view, eventually even those that were not East-West. Nothing. I mentioned this to Jesse and he pointed out that the road was North-South, so my shadow calculations were wrong (I think he said it was actually in the evening). I finally accepted a hint and searched for paint shops generically I found 'Peters'.

Hang on. This was not even a Paint Spot store. I was never going to find it using my original search criteria. I had used up several hours of my life on this hopeless search.

So, this was the only white horse in Melbourne that was not in 'City of Whitehorse' suburbs and was not one of the white horses known to be outside Paint Spot stores. I am sure there is a story of how it got there, but I have lost the will to live.

The Google Streetview above shows the location where Jesse took the shot. The horse moves around depending on who brings it out in the morning apparently, so Jesse would have had the right location and the right sunlight for the shot to work. He would most likely have waited a while to add elements like the delivery man. It would certainly be interesting to see the other frames that he rejected. The horse must have been placed just behind where the blue car is for the shot to have worked. I hope you didn't move it to make the shot Jesse?

Thank you Jesse for leading me on a wild horse chase. If you are not familiar with Jesse Marlow, you should really check out his work on his website.

Supplemental: during my searching I located a store in Australia that actually sells life size horse statues. If you are the store owner and happen to be reading this, I am almost certain Jesse would love to have one of your horses outside his house, so please get in touch so we can make the arrangements.

I am also very open to other horse based revenge suggestions. I will also be improving on his shot next time I am in Melbourne.

For a stream of my work, follow me on Twitter or Instagram. If you are interested in rapidly improving your street photography, get in touch about my workshops (mainly London and South East UK). Also open to commissions or editorial of course.

First image is copyright Jesse Marlow, used with permission.


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