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.

9 comments:

Wess Gray said...

Kirk,
On your nostalgia for the days of 4x5's, may I quote that great American philosopher Michael Kroll of Hennessey, Oklahoma, "nothing is as good or as bad as we remember it to be.

Bold Photography said...

Oh! The agony of JPG. The Pain of 1:1 ratios... oooh...


---

Ok, I'll get over that with these photos.. wow, these are more than print-worthy. These need to go on walls... BIG sized...

Mary Dean said...

Hmmmm, it is notable to me that none of your pics are of landscapes....the way I hear some people talk of falling in love with this area, I had envisioned dramatic sunsets and...I don't know..more texas scrub?
But I still like reading what you write:)

Ron said...

Kirk,
I'm really digging the square format of your photos and the vivid imagery in your narratives.

Looking forward to the next day's log entry...

- Ron

Mike Strycharske said...

There is something to be said for getting it right inside the camera. While Ansel Adams would spend a ton of time working on a single print in the darkroom, he knew precisely what he wanted before he ever opened the shutter. And I often think that the battery of software tools at our dispolal today makes us a bit lazy with regard to exposure, color and even composition.

roteague said...

I still think you should have shot film.

Kissin' Kate said...

That was a lovely visual break, thanks.
-Kate

Gordon said...

I almost stayed here for the Marathon last year. Ended up in the Gage instead (which has a great pool incidentally)

Marathon isn't anything special, the real special is about 50 miles South.

I talked with James for about an hour last time I was there - he was a real nice guy. One of the things out there is nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere, so the change of pace is good.

But deep in the heart of the Chisos, about 5 hours and a few thousand feet up from where the roads all stop is where the good stuff is.

Anonymous said...

Kirk, There is a considerable amount of psychological research that supports the wisdom of burning your bridges and never looking back. This 21 minute video makes the case: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

Lash LaRue