Mariscal Mine

We spent a week out in Texas at the beginning of this month and made a return trip to Big Bend National Park. The park is so vast that there is little hope for us to view it all and we are planning to return again next year for our 3rd trip (my 4th). This year, we decided to attempt the River Road, a dirt road only suitable for high ground clearance vehicles.  This is a 56 mile road that will take all day to travel (7+ hours).  We came across an old abandoned mercury mine in the far reaches of the park. It is accessible but in a remote location of Big Bend. The park itself is very remote so needless to say, we were a long way from civilization.

I was shooting a lot of film, B&W and color and was striving for a certain look. I wanted an authentic portrayal of this mine and film was my obvious choice.  Vintage and grainy for the B&W and color using a 65+ year old lens on a 45 year old Leica  to portray the feeling of time gone by. The isolation, the remoteness of the area led me to choose Tri X as opposed to TMax100 for B&W. TriX is an old emulsion giving that “classic” black and white look. Color was Kodak Ektar, my go to film for daylight landscapes. Though usually a contrasty and punchy film, on the ancient serenar 50/1.8, I knew colors would come out with a pastel look with low contrast giving the appropriate vintage look.

The mine is Mariscal Mine which was abandoned in 1942. From 1901-1942 it produced approx. 25% of all the mercury in this country. Amazing considering in the early years the ore was packed out by mule around 60+ miles to the nearest town of Terlingua on a rutted out dirt road. The workers were all from Mexico (the Rio Grande is a short, couple miles away) and all suffered severe health problems as a result of the mining. Apparently the brick still contain quicksilver and there was a warning to not touch the bricks. Mine shafts were still visible, dotted through the hills but thankfully secured by steel grates.

The feeling of isolation in BBNP is intoxicating. To be out all day and not see another person, to look out over the vast desert and mountains and feel completely alone, in a timeless state is very appealing. This abandoned mine are like the skeletons of a by gone era. I hope I convey the feeling I am attempting too through these images. Enjoy!

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Big Bend redux

My wife and I returned a few weeks back from our 2nd and my 3rd visit to Big Bend National Park.  I plan on blogging more about this fantastic park when I have completed the laborious task of editing the library of images I came home with.  However, I need a place to post some previous images, both digital and film, from my prior 2 trips and a few from this time.  Sooooooo, without much fanfare, BBNP revisited.


Boquillas overlook at dusk

Chisos Mountains

Chisos with rare snow

Rio Grande at dusk

Grapevine Hills road

Mule Ears

southside of the Chisos Mountains

Taj Mahal

ocotillo and chisos

desert art


Rio Grande Sunset

I’m back!!!

Sometime in the past 6-8 months I have lost about 3 years of blog content from my last blog.  Apparently my hosting company discontinued their product and phased in a WordPress blog.  Thanks to an email my brother in law Bob sent me, I have finally been prompted to begin anew.  A basic design has been implemented with much needed changes coming to this very (comedic) basic blog.  Basically, I needed a place to muse about all things related to photography and the adventures involved in this passion of mine as well as a place to display some of my work outside of my (in much need of an upgrade) website.  So here it is with a fresh start! -Jon