Winter 2018/2019

October 20, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run with blurred water due to slow shutter speed.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A chilly start to the day makes for a crisp walk in the woods.

BW photograph of a tree truck laying next to a large rock with direct sunlight.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Yesterday morning began with temperatures in the high 30s-the coldest morning of the year thus far.  This morning was a bit different-temperatures were in the mid-50s, but the rain from last night left the air heavy, damp, and a bit cold.  Rain is again in the forecast for tonight followed by temperatures once again in the high 30s for the early morn.

Not to jump too far ahead, but NOAA has released its forecast for Winter 2018/2019.  This is well worth a read for those in the U.S. who are interested.  According to this information, some of the areas affected by the recent hurricanes have “…the greatest odds for above-average precipitation this winter.”  (Several of the hiking trails I frequent are still running with water and/or are soggy and muddy from all the rain that has fallen in this area over the past few months.)  Drought conditions will continue in some areas and be reduced in others.  NOAA’s current forecast also states “No part of the U.S. is favored to have below-average temperatures.”

Time will tell as to the accuracy of this particular prediction-the report explains some of the variables that could change what is actually experienced.  As such, NOAA does update the forecast on a regular basis.

It is useful to remember that weather is local and climate is global.  While the NOAA forecast is more to the local weather-end of that spectrum, and the recent IPCC report is at the global climate-end, they both reflect patterns established by an overall warming planet.  As such, while it may mean that some have less snow to shovel this winter, which may or may not make those folks happy depending on one’s feelings toward snow, the overall socioeconomic impact is much greater.  How will Alaska, for example, cope with its increased and continued warming? (It is worth noting that linked article is from 2016.)

Take care.

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Beauty

October 13, 2018

BW photograph of hay rolls in Antietam.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

That which is considered beautiful is subjective and very much a culturally defined term.

BW photograph of Burnside Bridge at Antietam.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A cool, crisp October morning with a bright sun rising in the east provided some measure of that criteria.

BW photograph of the Dunkerd Church at Antietam.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was a beautiful morning for a walk.

That well over 20,000 men were either killed, wounded, or went missing here in 1862 defies the imagination and stands in very stark contrast to the feel of this place on this particular day and time.  The battle at Antietam was the “single bloodiest day” in United States history.

Gen. Robert E. Lee has been quoted in multiple sources as having said “It is well for war to be so terrible, lest we grow fond of it.”  Indeed.  And yet, the Civil War in the U.S. continued until 1864; then there was WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan-the latter is ongoing.  These are just some of the overt wars for the U.S.-although there has been no declaration of war since WWII.  That list does not include the covert activities nor the ones for which we supply one side against the other as in Yemen, for example.  We provide Saudi Arabia with arms and support in what amounts to a proxy war with Iran.  The violence of the Civil Rights Movement and the riots of 1967 and 1968 are not included, yet were bloody in their own right.  Globally, we could discuss the fighting in many other places (Myanmar) or the threat of such elsewhere (Bosnia and Herzegovina).  One does not have to reach the point of taking up arms to be destructive.  Think about the belief systems and public policies that support racism and destroy the environment, to name two, both here and around the world.

It is so very helpful to get outside and see and feel and smell and touch the beauty that exists.  It is also important to remember how fleeting that can be unless there is a shared recognition that short-term gain for some cannot be a substitute for longer-term deprivation, exploitation, and outright elimination of another.

Take care.

Michael and Climate Change

October 10, 2018

BW photograph of the woods off to the side of Chimney Rock on a foggy morning.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Hurricane Michael arrived today with all the destructive capabilities as was forecast.  The storm will be moving through Georgia and the Carolinas and then out to the Atlantic.

NPR’s 1A program also had this discussion about climate change-please give it a listen.  It is especially important to pay attention to the information from the recent IPCC report regarding the time frames with which we need to be working and the steps to be taken to mitigate/adapt to climate change.  Time is short, but as the report and 1A discussion indicate, the capability is there-multiple concrete strategies are presented.  It will, however, take individual, industrial, and political will.

Michael, and the other major storms, droughts, and fires of the past few years are reminders of what is at stake.

The photograph is a moment of calm.

Take care.

IPCC, Michael, Whales

October 9, 2018

BW photograph of Chimney Rock enveloped in fog.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today began with a bit of drizzle and quite a bit of fog.  Once that burned off, the day became much warmer.

BW photograph of a pine tree trunk against a foggy background.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a new report-NPR posted this overview and here is the IPCC document.

While it is certainly important for all individuals to do what is possible to reduce their impact on the environment, we are clearly past the point of changing light bulbs and turning off those lights when not in use.  In order to meet the goals outlined in the report, larger scale governmental efforts are needed.  Given that the mid-term elections are right around the corner here in the U.S., and that the U.S. government has dramatically reversed the efforts made to participate in this global effort, it would be quite useful for voters to research where individual politicians stand on the issue of climate change.  This article may be of use should one choose to contact a member of Congress.  Alternately, there are any number of organizations worth investigation for possible support-Charity Navigator has a couple of lists worth a look.

The timing here is more than a little bit ironic in that Hurricane Michael is on track to hit Florida tomorrow as a (most likely) Category 3 storm.  By Thursday, it will be in the Carolinas, which are continuing the recovery process from Hurricane Florence.  NPR also posted this report about the impact of climate change on right whales.  The warming of the waters and subsequent changing of ocean currents are a substantial ingredient in both the development of stronger, larger hurricanes and the habits of ocean-living species.

Speaking of climate change, politics, and Florida, this is an important read.  It is also an example of another course of action that can be taken on behalf of the environ.

Climate change has been a serious issue for quite some time now-denial and obfuscation does not change that.  As the overall climate temperature rises, so does the magnitude and scope of the associated problems.

As an important aside,

Take care.

UPDATE:  NPR has updated their report on Hurricane Michael.

Water

October 5, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run with blurred water due to slow shutter speed.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Running water is a favourite subject for landscape photographers.  A relatively slow shutter speed is often used to create the smoothed out effect seen above and in the two photographs immediately below.  While this is an aesthetic choice, a slow shutter speed (measured in full seconds) is often a necessity when photographing in low light and using a relatively small aperture (f/8 for example) for depth-of-field.

BW photograph a small waterfall at Morgan Run.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of Morgan Run with blurred water due to slow shutter speed.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of Morgan Run with somewhat sharper water due to faster shutter speed.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is the same scene as the photo immediately above, except a  faster shutter speed was used.  As such, the water takes on much more of an “edgy” quality, which perhaps gives a better sense of what power it can possess.  As an aside, this is the reason water, when imaged by sports photographers, has been “frozen”-the high shutter speed needed to stop the motion of a kayaker in a set of rapids also stops the motion of the water.

BW photograph of debris from flooding at Morgan Run.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The past months have been extremely wet (it stormed again last night and sprinkled just a bit this morning) and Morgan Run has, on a few occasions, rampaged over its banks.  The above and following photographs document several piles of debris that have wedged against the trees along those banks.  Some of this debris was 20-30 feet beyond the usual water line under non-flood conditions.

BW photograph of tree trunk debris at Morgan Run after flooding.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of debris among trees at Morgan Run after flooding.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a down tree, stripped of bark, after flooding at MR.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There is a fury within that water can unleash-even a normally (relatively) small bit of water such as Morgan Run can move large objects when flooded.  Looking at these piles led me to think about the earthquake and accompanying tsunami that recently hit Indonesia.  Even with hearing/reading the reports, such an event is still unimaginable.  The death toll is currently 1500 plus and expectations are that this number will rise as workers continue to search the enormity of destruction-the number of people swept out to sea remains unknown.  While those who have survived must now face the physical task of rebuilding their lives and communities, the remains from such a catastrophic event are not always visible.  The psychological trauma visited upon those can persist.

Reminders always remain.  For example, in 2011, an earthquake/tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.  Radiation most certainly can be measured, but not by using the naked eye; therefore, continued monitoring and testing is required.  While that area continues the process of recovery, fisherman, whose livelihoods have been impacted since the event, are concerned about a plan to dump treated water from the plant in the ocean.

Take care.

 

Themes and Variations

October 1, 2018

BW photograph of an overcast sky looking out toward Thurmont from Hog Rock.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A theme is a common thread that is woven throughout a body of work.   This blog contains posts that address several themes:  climate change and trash are two of the major subjects.  Being in the mountains is another.

A variation reflects a modification of some sort-something is added or taken away or presented in a different fashion.

I have written before about photographing the water at Morgan Run.  It is quite difficult to take the exact same photograph-even with using the continuous drive setting on a camera.  While the theme remains the same (Morgan Run), each image is a variation due to the instantaneous changing of the water as it flows.

The same can be said for the atmospheric conditions when looking out from the Catoctin Mountains.  The photograph above was made this past weekend.  If there are any clouds in the sky, they are often morphing into new shapes and sizes.  If the wind is blowing, they may move across the frame.  During a sunrise, such as this one, the light on and behind the clouds alters the illumination.  There may be crepuscular rays.  Variations all.

This is, in part, why I look forward to visiting the “same” places time after time.

Take care.

The Human Element

September 29, 2018

BW photograph of an overpass wall and rail.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Most of the time, I work hard to exclude humans from my photographs.  The photograph above is a basic “here to there” shot that works quite well in BW.  The early morning sun produces a hard, directional light that is illuminating the concrete.  This, in turn, provides contrast to the darker rail, sky, and trees.  The image also softens a bit from left to right, which suggests some distance.

BW photograph of a car's shadow on an overpass wall.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

However, it is, on occasion, necessary to introduce the human element in order to make a stronger composition.  In this case, the car’s shadow adds a more precise subject to the image.  (As an aside, this was a single image captured with proper timing-not continuous exposure-or the “spray and pray” method.  I had set the composition, pre-determined the exposure, pre-focused, and then awaited the car.)

BW photograph of a used insole laying in a flower bed.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What is essential, though, to the majority of my work is to demonstrate the human presence and impact on our world.  The photograph above is a shoe’s well-used insole that was laying in a flower bed.  (The white rectangle just below the heel is a cigarette butt.) Its mate was nowhere to be seen.  How it arrived there is a mystery, but someone must have left it.  The very nature of the insole’s shape provides a metaphor for a footprint left on the environ.

BW photograph of a shredded plastic cup laying in grassy weeds.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a Styrofoam cup and plastic lid and straw on some steps.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a crushed plastic water bottle laying in the street.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is also the reason for trash and waste dominating my imagery.  Photographer James Balog explains in Chasing Ice that documenting the disappearance of glaciers and ice sheets was his means of calling attention to climate change.  For me, the detritus left behind, especially when it is plastic and/or Styrofoam, demonstrates the casual, if not deliberate, disregard many have for the environ.  These materials are made, used (mostly) once, then discarded by people and will out-last generations.  That is the human element.

Take care.