Portrait: 842 Miles, 100 Degree Heat and a Pandemic
A recent trip to Plainview, Texas - a roundtrip journey of 842 miles - will remain in my mind for a number of reasons, none of which are actually to do with the distance, the heat, or the fact that it took place at the height of the pandemic.
Instead what I'll most likely remember is that I spent approximately fifteen hours along the way (and back) listening to an audiobook recording of Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. The full audiobook is thirty-six hours long, but I read a physical copy of the book once my trip was over. It is a magnificent book, truly one that lives up to its reputation. And where else to discover it, but while driving across a huge swarth of the state it largely takes place in?
The majority of the Panhandle landscape is flat, dusty, and far from compelling. You get to feel that you're 'Out West.' For an Englishman, it definitely feels like alien territory.
I journeyed there at the behest of The Rotarian magazine, with whom I've collaborated before. I was asked to make a portrait of Scott Franklin, and to show his charitable work crafting plastic pandemic masks on a 3-d printer in his garden shed.
Obviously this involved having safety protocols in place. As you'd expect, Scott's shed is small. We kept ourselves apart from being inside together wherever possible; I set -up my lights by myself and used the self-timer to evaluate results and make adjustments. The only time we were in the shed together was for the portraits, and only then did Scott remove his mask for a few seconds. (obviously I kept-on my mask the whole time, and steamed-up my glasses occasionally).
I travelled solo, so that I was lugging around lighting gear by myself. No hardship...usually. On this occasion, I said my goodbyes to Scott (complete with newly printed 3-d safety masks he kindly handed me), and loaded up the car. My shirt was completely soaked-through. Before changing into a fresh shirt, I quickly started the engine and fired-up the a-c. Only then did I notice the temperature as recorded by my car: 120 degrees.
My thanks to Scott for being such an amenable and safety-conscious subject, and to Diego Campos and Jennifer Moody at The Rotarian for the assignment.