3.18.2010

A gem in Marathon, Texas. A mini-DisneyLand for photographers.

The road trip saga continues.  I made the Austin traditional pilgrimage to Marathon.  I must confess that I still don't get the appeal.  I guess if you spend your days glued to your cellphone, soaking up radiation and keep an iPhone in the other hand ready at all times to text, then you might have a profound and visceral response to a town of 250 people with two restaurants and one fancy hotel surrounded by miles and miles of desert.  I don't get it.  There is a photographer there by the name of James Evans.  He's really good.  He moved out there in 1988 to document the Big Bend area.  By all accounts his work in that genre is unsurpassed.  But my God!  The relentless isolation and only one choice for coffe........

Then I found an alternate to the Gage Hotel.  Two blocks away is a little stucco hippy refuge run by ephemeral naturalists and grumpy conservative utopian farm folk.  It's called Eve's Organic Garden Bed and Breakfast.  I walked in and looked around and found every square inch of stucco covered by a riot of paint.  Can you say "complementary colors"?
This kind of environment is what the Olympus EP2 camera is made for.  Vivid colors, lots of detail and wonderful shapes.  I spent the better part of a morning just walking thru the, maybe, ten thousand square feet being fascinated and clicking away.  This made the trip for me.......in a photographic sense.  Would I go back?  In a fast plane.  You bet.  In a car?  I'll have to think about it.  Marathon would be the perfect place to work hard on a novel.
As I blazed through frame after snicky little frame I did find myself longing for the days of the 4x5 view cameras all loaded up with juicy Provia Transparency film.  Nice as the colors are my optimistic memory of the past wants me to believe that the colors would have been deeper and richer on large format film.  In a more sober sense,  I think that's just a case of nostalgia.
As you might expect, I love to burn bridges.  That's why I did two things that drive my photographer friends crazy:  I shot everything in Jpeg Super Large fine Happy instead of RAW.  And I used the square crop.  In RAW you can always disregard the crop, it just shows up as an indication.  A suggestion.  But in Jpeg you've succeeded in wiping out any information that ends up outside the crop.  There's no way to change your mind and get it all back.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  I think art photography takes guts and that means being willing to crop and burn without fear.