Friday, February 01, 2008

Horizons #1 or #2

"Horizon #1"
Martin County, Texas
"Horizon #2"
Ector County, Texas

This morning I'm trying to wrap my mind around the vastness of this area. These two horizons tell part of the story that I'm trying to understand. It's a story about the immense space of West Texas.

Every other Saturday my friend Donna and I have been getting together to go on photo safaris. One weekend, she comes down here and we tromp around my area, currently going over to Martin County. And the other weekend, I drive up there and we tromp around her area, currently going over to Bailey County. Although the counties are separated by 200 miles, both are part of West Texas, an area that encompasses roughly 200 by 500 miles -- a whopping 100,000 square miles.

Although originally we were just out scouting around for photo opportunities, we ended up gravitating toward and now repeatedly returning to these two counties. I think part of the appeal is the sparse population of especially these two. In all of Martin County's 916 square miles, there are less than 5,000 people. And Bailey is similar, with 827 square miles and less than 7,000 people. Compare that with Ector County, where I live, with a similar size of 901 square miles, and a population of about 121,000 (100,000 of that being the population in the city of Odessa.)

These days, in the United States and elsewhere, a city of a hundred thousand people is hardly remarkable, yet that's more than twenty times the whole population of the vast areas we've been photographing. In addition, consider also that Dallas County in North Central Texas is 908 square miles and has a population of over 2 million.

This morning I'm pondering just how big is 900 square miles. Case in point, Donna and I wake early, get on the road before dawn, and yet by the time we return home at dusk, we have rarely put more than 100 miles on the odometer. To date, we've seen no more than a small corner of either of our pet counties. (Mind you, in spite of the day's low mileage, we each return home with several hundred pictures on our camera cards.)

I've been wondering lately if we might ever see "all" of these counties. If we were to plot, say, a 900 square mile county into nine 10 X 10 mile blocks, just traversing that grid would take us 8 hours to drive the 240 miles of road. That calculation, of course, is allowing time for picture-taking -- one stop per hour to shoot for a half hour, a rigidly strict time allotment for us. And yet, even if we were ever so methodical, I wouldn't consider that exercise qualifying as seeing all of the county, because what we would see flying outside our windshield would be only the edges of any given one hundred square miles of landscape.

My goodness.

Today's Have Camera Will Shoot suggestion of "More Horizons" was by Bev at Heavenly Body. And rightly so. A theme of her blog is frequently her own unique horizons as seen in her corner of the planet, the old city of Hull in England, populated at least since the 12th century. And if you can stand just a tad more Math (or "Maths" as Bev would say), Hull is 27.6 square miles with a population just under 250,000. Hull is part of the larger "local government district" (akin to our "counties" I would guess) of East Riding of Yorkshire, 958 square miles with a population of almost 590,000.

Photo info --
Picture # 1 This picture was taken with Donna's camera. My batteries ran out and she let me borrow hers. The cool thing is now with her new camera we use the same camera cards and I was able to slip my card in her camera to take a picture.

Picture # 2 This is the first picture taken of the day, at very early sunrise, with frost on the ground. We had made it a mere 10 miles from home before our first photo stop.


nelda said...

The pictures are great and your math is mind boggling. I did some research on Crockett County, so I'll throw those numbers at you. Crockett County has 2808 square miles, population of county is 3879, and the population of Ozona, the only town in the county, is 3436. Ozona is not an incorporated townsite, so there is no city government there. Crockett county is, for the most part, very rugged country - which would produce lots of photo opts, don't you think?

John (Copyright JMM 2007-2008) said...

I prefer one - the eye leads me to that beautiful tree....two is a sunrise and the colors are strong - did you enhance saturation?

Great to see your pics and words. I missed the sight of Texas, I am soooooooo sorry our New York Giants wupped your Tejano Cowboys....

American football, Bev.

Bev said...

I like the way you have done your research! There have always been a lot of people in English cities, that's why we have the terraced houses which are houses row upon row next to each other, thereby using the minimum amount of space. I live in a terraced house. England is a highly populated island, though actually the county of East Yorkshire is quite a rural one.

As a result, we don't get many uncluttered horizons as you have here. I did my best the other day on the Common near to me (which is the nearest open land) but there was a bridge and crane in view.

I like the second picture best as it has some cactusy looking plants and what looks like a red sky at sunset. It looks like a right Texas horizon to me. We have a saying 'Red Sky at the night is the shepherd's delight', meaning if you see a red sky in the evening you will have a good weather the next day, but I bet you don't have many shepherds near you and I bet the weather isn't as inclement as our's lol

Bev said...

I am aware of American football, John. We do have the TV lol

dianeclancy said...

Hi Debi,

Enjoy your travels! I love hearing about where you live!

I just looked it up ... we (Franklin County, MA) are 23 square miles ... not very big compared to you ... we have 26 towns ... some with only a few hundred people. Lots of woods and stuff.

But we have 70,000 people ... I never thought of that as many until I see how many people you have spread out over forever!

I am going with #2 .. I love that fence and tree in #1 but I love the color of the sky even more.

~ Diane Clancy

Bev said...

I've just come back to you in an idle moment. I see it was sunrise, which is shepherd's warning, but the rest of the comment still applies lol

Fawzan Barrage said...

#1 is breath taking!! I just love the fence so much and the grass in to die for. If you could photoshop the sky to darken it and make it a shade of prussian blue it would be a major keeper.

Sweet Irene said...

I like number one for its artistic merits, although number two shows the vastness more. I love the fence in number one, it's so tumbled down and won't keep anything in or out.

Such vast spaces as you have in Texas, you will not find here in the Netherlands, which is very overpopulated. There are meadows and heaths and forests, but there are always little villages and towns too.

Vast open spaces, that go on for miles and miles, intimidate me and I always feel very alienated in them. It is too much for me to comprehend and I find it too hard to grasp that there is no one there for hundreds of miles around.

You can tell that I come from a small country where I can always see a church spire on the horizon or other signs of life.

Andi said...

#2 for the color and the light!

Bobbie said...

#2 grabs me, the light, the colors, the openness. I do yearn for the wide open spaces where you feel the freedom. I would have never thought that caliche would look so good :)

I do like #1 and am amazed at that bending fence. No wonder you had to borrow Donna's camera for the shot.

You are doing really good work, Debi. And I am so proud to be your mom. Keep on shooting!

D.C. Confidential said...

Both of these are striking, but #1 draws me in the most. I love this photo! It has so much texture. And your application of the rule of thirds is superb.

I certainly don't live in an area anywhere as vast as where you are. At least, not in terms of wide, open spaces like West Texas. But I'm always amazed by how many pictures I can take of whatever it is I'm photographing on any given day. I always think I've only taken 10 or 15 snaps (I don't pay attention to the count meter on my camera), but when I get home it's easily four times that amount. The challenge is finding the shot I really like right now and then appreciating all the others weeks and months later when I see them again with fresh eyes. I'm always thrilled to find pictures that, when I initially took and viewed them, I thought were only okay, but upon looking them over again, discover some really good shots in the mix.

Good job again, Debi!

Rima said...

I don't want to choose anymore, Debi! I always feel like I'm differentiating between 2 siblings! I love all your photographs, and feel hardpressed to discard one in favour of the other. So, from now on, my dear friend, you can count on me to choose #1 AND #2 every time.... :-b

That said, since I love both, I will tell why:
The first one is an image of possibilities - openness, timeless landscape, solid and present too.
The second is one of depth and complexity, the blind and murky mysteries of nature around us.

So, even though these two images might be related, they are so different and intrinsic that it is unfair to make them compete against each other. Like brother and sister, mandarins and oranges, sea and ocean. Ok, I'll stop now.

dianeclancy said...

Hi Debi,

There is a little something for you over at my blog.


~ Diane Clancy

-K- said...


I love the warp of the wooden rail and all the different colors of brown.

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Hannah's Mom said...

Hi Debi! #1... I love it! How the heck are you? I have fallen into school.. :) Thining about you and yours!