Chance Encounter

Billy Faier - musician
Billy Faier – musician
Sometimes it is easy to forget that life is a journey full of unexpected twists. One day on a whim or boredom, I drove four hundred miles from San Antonio to the West Texas crossroads town of Marathon. I pass through Marathon once or twice a year on my way to Big Bend. It’s a good place to stop for coffee. In fact it is the last place to stop for anything for more than a hundred miles when heading into the Bend.

Sitting on the patio of my regular coffee joint was an old man playing the banjo with such eloquence that I had to sit down and listen. Funny, none of the other patrons seemed to notice him there. He was playing and singing tunes straight out of the East Coast folk scene of the 1940s and 50s. Given where he was in far West Texas it was like he had beamed in from another place and time.

That is how I made the acquaintance of Billy Faier. He was genuinely a veteran folk singer, friend of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, traveling companion of Woodie Guthrie, contemporary of Pete Seeger and practitioner of progressive politics. He was old school in ways that are hard to comprehend for the twenty first century. Now at eighty four or eighty five years old he was transplanted to another place altogether.

We spoke for half an hour. He had a bright cheerful manner with plenty of stories which he punctuated with simply beautiful solo banjo music. I bought a couple CDs and told him I’d see him next time I was out that way. Sadly he died before I got back to Marathon. I won’t forget him anytime soon.

Wilderness

Balanced Rock - Big Bend National Park
Balanced Rock – Big Bend National Park
Balanced Rock is one of the iconic spots to visit in Big Bend National Park. A short twenty to thirty minute hike is required to see the huge bolder more than ten feet across balanced neatly between two outcrops. It is a sight worth seeing.

Most tourists take snapshots of the balanced rock by itself or with someone pretending to hold the great mass above their head. Nice souvenirs to be sure.

This photo was made just before sunrise with my tripod setup underneath the bolder. Tourists generally wait until after sunrise to hike Grapevine Hills because mountain lions and bears are active in the hours just before dawn. I’ve never had a close encounter except one time seeing evidence that a big cat crossed my path. It left scat full of javelina fur on the trail right where I’d walked an hour before. That is my real wilderness experience.

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The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 45 – North America

The International calendar
Weeks starting on Monday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 45 – International

Waiting for the Sun

Desert and Mountains - Big Bend Texas
Desert and Mountains – Big Bend Texas
Early morning light in areas with extreme elevation changes is often very interesting. This photo was made several minutes after sunrise on a clear morning but no direct sunlight is evident in the image. That is because the sun is rising behind a ten thousand foot high mountain range directly behind the camera. The elevation at the camera is about three thousand feet and the mountain in the image is little over five thousand feet high.

The difference in altitude and the position of the sun gave me an opportunity to shoot in soft light. In this case the desert floor acted as a giant reflector. The light is still directional enough to cast shadows but not harsh. A similar situation can occur at the end of the day. Sometimes it is possible to shoot in bright soft light with clear sky for an hour or more before the sun actually goes below the horizon. That presents opportunities to photograph wildlife and other subjects that emerge once the sun is not overhead. Something to keep in mind when out shooting in mountainous areas.

Download the latest Phototrice calendar in PDF format. Direct download links – No signup required.

The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 43 – North America

The International calendar
Weeks starting on Monday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 43 – International