SOUTHWESTERN AMERICA

I just sent a book off to be published (keep reading). I used Blurb, a print-on-demand service, to design and print the book. It was idiot-proof and exciting. I don’t know if it was the thrill of getting my own book printed but they sure make it easy. You can look at part of the book here in pdf format.

I’ve been traveling throughout the Southwest in the last few months, including Mexico, and have made many photographs. I compiled the book using images from Texas, México, New Mexico and California. At one time, they all were part of Mexico (Nueva España) or even further back, Spain. That’s the common theme.

I ordered one book, using a 7″ x 7″ square hard-cover format. I’m pretty comfortable with the layout, I just don’t know how the pictures will reproduce. My biggest concerns are the resolution, which shouldn’t be a problem at that size, and the color. My monitor, printer, papers and camera are calibrated to each other and I don’t know how they’ll play out with Blurb. I’ll see in a week when my 46 page book shows up.

Mazapil, MexicoProcessing the photograph doesn’t take a lot of work. I processed the image in Paintshop Pro at 16 bits. It was made with a Sony DSC R1, 10 megapixels, at about 8:50 a.m. on November 20. The RAW file is 20 megabytes and exposure was 1/250 at f 6.3. The morning sun was still fairly low and directional.

I use un-sharp mask to sharpen all my images and color corrected by selecting the pure, bright white on the door jamb. I also used curves slightly to bring the black values down a little and enhance the texture of the wall. The contrast is already there and didn’t need much extra. I re-sized (no re-sampling) and printed on Epson Archival Matte on an Epson 2400 printer. It prints very well and the colors in the edited image are very representative of what I saw that morning. The pink wall literally stopped me in my tracks when I saw it while driving through town. The town of Mazapíl, like many Mexican villages, had doorways and walls of all colors, none of them neutral. It was beautiful. I hope the big rush on the gold mine doesn’t spoil the town.

Mazapil is in the high desert in the state of Zacatecas and the name is of Nahua origin and means “venadito” or “small deer.” The first contingent of Spanish explorers arrived in this area as early as 1554. The first permanent settlement was established in 1562. The area attracted many miners and soldiers, thanks in large part to the great wealth of its silver deposits. Today Mazapil is still an important mining center, producing silver, gold, lead, zinc and mercury.

I was working at the Peñasquito gold mine, located about 15 kilometers west of Mazapíl. I commuted 2-1/2 hours each way from Saltillo during the week I was there. The morning and evening light was perfect and I made a lot of photographs along the road when I saw something interesting.

Here is a link to my Flickr photographs if you want to see more of my images. For travelers, if you want to see a town that makes Mazapíl look mundane, take the old road, made of large rocks embedded in dirt, not cobblestones, that runs from Mazapíl to Concepción de Oro and stop at Aranzazú, an uninhabited village.

 

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