Sunday, March 30, 2008

Howdy from Brownsville!

"No hyperbole is too big for Texas," observed my wife. I had to laugh. The signs are big. The stores are big. Everything is BIG here. And it's hot! We left Edmonton yesterday morning in weather where we could see our breath and arrived here to temperatures of 26C (that's over 80 degrees for you Americans...)

After exploring Texas for a considerable period of time, we finally found our temporary home. We were up and out this morning. I have to tell you, folks, I LOVE travelling. There's something about being in a place I've never been before in a culture I've never encountered that makes the whole world sparkle.

We met another Canadian couple this morning. They've been here for three weeks. Expecting a raft of information, we asked them what they'd done. They replied that they have spent a lot of time around the pool. And they go grocery shopping. Three WEEKS? That isn't travelling, folks. That's existing in a warmer place.

We were on our way to a place we thought would be a wonderful experience. Last night I saw an ad for a Texas Gun Sale and Show in nearby Pharr. What can be more of a cultural trip than a GUN SHOW IN TEXAS?

Along the way we saw the Big Red Barn. It's called the Big Red Barn because it is a Big Red Barn. Here they advertise in a BIG sign that they sell cards. But the sign on the door said they were out of cards, even though they were open.

A card shop that is out of cards was something that demanded a picture. But the image had some very specific problems: the doorway with the "we're out of cards" sign was in the shadow and the BIG sign advertising LOTS of cards for sale was weatherworn, faded and in bright light.

It's always a good idea to pre-plan what you are going to do with a photo before you take it. I decided to focus on the small hand-done sign on the door and manually darken the big sign later. This is exactly what I did. I left the darkening on the big sign fairly rough since that makes it look like weather.

We were finally on the road to the gun show when we saw something that made us cross two lanes of traffic and pull into the driveway of a closed business. It was a police car from another era. It looked like it had been "shot up pretty good" and it demanded a picture.

I knew from the instant I took the picture what I wanted to do with it. It was going to be turned into a grainy 1950's style photo. I used Alien Skin's Exposure and a desaturation brush. I copied the original picture and put it under the black and white one. I reduced the opactiy of the top layer JUST enough to give it some textured color and then manually added some more grain.

We got back on the road to the Saxet (which is "Texas" spelled backward, clever, huh?) Gun Show.

I'll be honest here: I really expected to see a bunch of rusty pick up trucks, inbred Hillbillies and back wood survivalist/conspiracy theory types. But there were all kinds of people there. Guys in business suits, Mom, Dad and the kids and only a few creepy guys with dark suspicious eyes. I was already thinking about the great pics I was going to get.

We got to the front desk and the guy eyed by backpack. "You got a camera in there? Or a loaded firearm?"

"Yup. Got me an eVolt 500 with a smoking telephoto," I said, wishing I chewed tobacco so I could spit confidently into a spitoon.

They took my bag away, apparenly having no sense of humour about they whole thing. The organizer explained that they take a beating in the press.
If this were a travel blog, I'd be telling you about what I saw in there and the people I met. They were classics and made for a delightful travel experience. This is the exact reason we travel, my wife and I. Pictures or no pictures it was an utterly delightful afternoon.

I had to settle for pictures taken outside. Since there was nothing interesting about the building, I chose to take some pictures of the large sign advertising the gun show. I saw a Stop sign that could be framed by light poles and some of the other signs.
I had to sigh as I looked at this shot. It's not particularly interesting. But I plan to work on it later and see if I can make something of it.
If I come up with anything...or any of you out there in the non-Brownsville world have any ideas...why not let me know what they are? There's something in this image. But right now it's kinda late and I need to go to bed.
Adios, amigos.