Summer 2022

June 23, 2022

BW photograph looking upstream over large boulders.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Summer 2022 is here. Our summer began with some decent thunderstorms.

BW photograph of a branch of leaves knocked down in a recent thunderstorm.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Spring 2022 went out with both a bake and a torrent. Several parts of the country continue to experience extremely hot temperatures…

BW photograph of a collection of leaves under a large boulder gathered by flood waters.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

while Yellowstone National Park was closed due to historic flooding of the Yellowstone River. Portions of the park have since re-opened, but others will remain closed until repairs to washed-out roads and bridges can be made.

BW photograph of a branch of leaves knocked down in a recent thunderstorm.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Along with the anticipation of summer vacations, cookouts, and such, this season brings with it the likelihood of extreme weather. NPR posted this report of the economic impact of extreme weather, please give it a read or listen.

BW photograph of a single shoe splattered by mud after a recent storm.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

While there is certainly the semantic issue of how one defines “extreme”, and that is not an insignificant point, what does become clear is the financial toll exacted from storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and wildfires. In addition to the material and infrastructure costs, one must account for the emotional toll of such events. As per the report, there are several important nuances the come with insurance coverage and government assistance when it comes to covering, or not, such damages. As always, language is a key and one would do well to fully understand who is responsible for what as per such policies.

Be safe and well.

The First

June 7, 2022

BW photograph of a newly fallen tree in front of a storage shed.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The first named storm of the 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Tropical Storm Alex, has moved on. It certainly demonstrated that it does not take a “monster” storm to result in the loss of life and significant property damage.

BW photograph of a newly fallen tree in front of a storage shed.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of a newly fallen tree in front of a storage shed.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The photos herein are of a tree most likely felled by the weather described in the previous post. That this particular system did not produce the worst of the results as per the forecast is both fortunate and largely irrelevant-the conditions were present.

While not wanting to sound like Chicken Little or the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the point is that we are in an era of climate change-driven extreme weather, which does increase the chances for greater numbers of people to be directly impacted by some type of weather-related event. The reality is that many have been living this reality for quite some time now.

In other words, every time we have a tornado warning, which seems to occur with greater frequency, and a tornado does not drop, I feel quite lucky and breathe a sigh of relief…which is what anyone would do. The point being that living in Tornado Alley comes with a greater degree of expectation for such a catastrophe. Living in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic region, where historically tornadoes are much more rare, the increasingly regular watches and warnings are a bit more jarring.

Tropical Storm Alex, though, is a reminder that it does not take a major storm to be disruptive.

Be safe.

Wet…and perhaps Wild

May 27, 2022

BW photograph of a downed tree's decaying limbs.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

At the time of writing this, the National Weather Service has posted a tornado watch for the central Maryland counties…this is the second time this month such an announcement has been made-fortunately no tornado made an appearance the last time. Oops-that just changed to a tornado warning for the next 30 minutes or so.

BW photograph of rushing water across a tree limb in a waterway after a thunderstorm.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was a humid morning accompanied by a light mist. A flood watch has also been posted. A severe thunderstorm warning has been extended.

BW photograph of exposed tree roots.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

That is quite a bit of overlapping and inter-related activity for a short period of time…such is the nature of the weather in this part of the world. The old adage of “April showers bring May flowers” seems to have shifted by a month-May 2022 has been quite wet. We have had varying amounts of rain on 18 days thus far In May. April 2022 presented 10 days with some form of precipitation-a bit of snow was included.

Looking at the bigger picture, storm-wise, that is, NOAA has predicted an “above average” Atlantic hurricane season this year. As per this report, NOAA has changed its definition of “above average” to reflect the impact of climate change.

The wind is kicking up and harder rain is now falling…some parts of those alerts have came to fruition. We’ll see what happens with the rest in the next bit of time.

Be safe and well.

UPDATE:

BW photograph of cumulus clouds the day after thunderstorms.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

5/28/2022: We did up with a bit of a thunderstorm yesterday…some thunder, hard rain for a short period of time, and a bit of wind, but nothing I would consider “severe”. As per the last time a warning was issued, a tornado did not drop, thankfully. ‘Twas another day with rain, though.

Beautiful sky this morning.

The 2022 Hurricane Season officially starts on June 1 and goes until November 30.

Be safe and well.

Choices

May 21, 2022

BW photograph looking downstream across exposed tree roots and a downed tree.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

When out for a walk in the woods, a photographer often has choices with how to represent the subject matter. The photo above could be considered a “grand scenic” in that it has the three standard landscape elements: a dominant foreground (the exposed tree roots); a well-defined middle ground (the larger boulder to the left); and the distant background (the water and far trees). The downed tree to the right and the boulder to the left form a arrow-point of leading lines directing the eye through the scene. In addition, the eye is also drawn through the frame by the whiteness of the blurred water. Those elements pull the viewer to the background.

This was photographed close to the ground using a 28mm equivalent focal length, with an aperture of f/8 for the desired depth-of-field. The blurred water resulted from the use of a 6-stop neutral density filter to slow the shutter speed.

Such a composition gives one a sense of place…it captures the essence of a particular location.

BW photograph looking down on exposed sycamore tree roots.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Another compositional option is to look for details. Eliot Porter discussed making “microcosms”-George Lepp used the term “optical extracts” for the same idea. Others used the term “intimate landscapes”. The above photograph shows those same exposed roots photographed from above to isolate their intricacy.

BW photograph of spring leaves against a downed tree trunk.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

One is basically making a portrait of a particular element.

BW photograph of a maple leaf laying on a trail.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As such, longer focal lengths (50-105 mm or longer-the “normal” to telephoto lenses) are employed to narrow the field of view…

BW photograph of horizontal striations worn into rocks from rushing water.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

and isolate the details.

These types of compositions can flow from one to another. If a grand scenic catches the attention, make that photograph and then gradually work into the scene to find the details. If photographing the details, move out to provide the larger context. It is often worth taking the time to “work the scene” instead of making a particular photograph and then moving on. Even if one does make additional photographs, it is helpful see what one can see with a different frame of mind.

Be safe and well.

Why B&W?

May 18, 2022

BW photograph of an old arched bridgein the early morning light.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Quite simply, the tonality…

BW photograph of a Bachelor Boarding House foundation facing west.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of a section of wall from a Bachelor Boarding House foundation.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of a Bachelor BoardingHouse foundation facing east.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is clearly an issue of judgment and preference; however, when I think of “documentary photography”, my mind’s eye sees in B&W.

It also helps to have excellent light-in this case, very directional sidelight provided by the early morning sun; texture, which is accentuated by such light; and finally, intriguing subject matter. It had been quite some time since I had visited these remains, and I was glad that they were still (mostly) intact.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S NOTE: These images were made using a Fuji XT2 and the ACROS simulation with a bit of added contrast and some dodging and burning in post. ACROS provides a fair amount of inherent contrast, but I often prefer to add more as I Iike the look of contrasty images with a full range of tones. The “full range of tones” is a key-otherwise one might end up with the “chalk and soot” (all highlights and deep shadows with no middle tones) look. The ability to have such a fine B&W imagining process was part of what drew me to the Fuji system a bunch of years ago. The “old school” dials for many of the controls was the other.

Mike Johnston writes The Online Photographer blog, one that I have followed for years and recommend. He posted this recently, which is a useful commentary on “B&W Over the Years”.

Be safe and well.

Familiarity

May 9, 2022

BW photograph of fast moving water going through boulders.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

One of the advantages of returning to a place time and again is that one becomes familiar with its character…how it, literally in this case, ebbs and flows.

BW photograph of fast moving water after a flood.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We had three days of fairly solid rain interspersed with a few thunderstorms. That kept temps in the low 40s in the mornings and not out of the 50s during the daylight hours. Water levels rose and became quite forceful when funneled between the boulders.

BW photograph of tree debris caught amid boulders in fast running water.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The combination of high winds and larger amounts of water altered the landscape…one who knows the area can readily tell when there is new debris about, or that which was there previously had been rearranged…

BW photograph of tree debris caught in boulders in fast moving water.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of two tree trunks laying in parallel after a flood.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of a portion of tree trunk caught on a rock after a flood.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph looking downstream at fast moving water.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Even a day later, the water volume was still up and moving right along…

BW photograph of tree debris caught against a large boulder in fast moving water.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of shattered tree debris against a large boulder after a flood.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of tree debris against a boulder at a curve in the water.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of tree debris after a flood.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.
BW photograph of tree debris laying atop a rock after a flood.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

with further evidence of that which was moved about.

Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The tree in the foreground was upright until the arrival of the recent storms.

Meanwhile, other areas of the country and world are dealing with much different circumstances.

Unfortunately, such conditions have become entirely too familiar.

Be safe and well.

Which Way?

May 4, 2022

BW photograph of the fork in a hiking trail.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I began writing this blog in January of 2010. My daughter was instrumental in getting it up and going as technology and I often are not that friendly. At the start, I was unsure about the direction it would take, although I did know that I did not want it to be another photo gear site.

BW photograph of exposed tree roots.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The sub-title certainly did provide a framework for what I was looking to do, but was quite unsure as to how it would be realized. I did want to have a platform by which to display my photographs-the writing would need to evolve to further the theme of each post.

BW photograph of old large tree trunks laying atop boulders after heavy flooding.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This blog overlapped the time period during which I was teaching Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Psychology classes. My approach was to make those as useful as possible as I genuinely believed that content to be some of the most important for gaining an understanding of the self, society, and the interaction between the two. Therefore, while the basic content remained relatively the same (theories and such-these, of course, did change over time, but there are core theories and other ideas upon which the disciplines are based), the application was kept timely via the use of current events. The ability to use the SOCL and PSYC content in the analysis of world events, and the world certainly provided new opportunities for discussion from semester to semester, was seen as being much more important than rote memorization.

BW photograph of water running through boulders.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

That, eventually, became the model for the blog. Sometimes the photographs would directly relate to the subject at hand. In others, the photographs served as metaphors.

BW photograph of springtime trees against an overcast sky.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In any case, I was always surprised that people found their way here…and was pleased when some elected to follow the postings. (Thanks to all.) Given that I did nothing else with social media, except to highlight the benefits and many, many issues presented by such platforms, such attention was hardly expected. (Again, thanks much for that.) I had always viewed this as a way to bring some point of emphasis to the issues I felt to be important.

BW photograph of lichen growing on a downed log.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And so, here we are now a bit over a dozen years later. I am now also coming up on the anniversary of having retired. The world continues to be complicated.

BW photograph of striations worn into rocks by running water.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Blogs appear to have been largely supplanted by TikTok and podcasts, so once again, I am, not surprisingly, behind the curve. Indeed, WordPress includes a link to (somehow) convert these posts to podcasts. While I am intrigued by that possibility, I have not as yet taken that step.

BW photograph of water flowing downstream around a large boulder.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The reality is that I am fatigued by the world in which we find ourselves…for those who have followed this blog, it has not been a bundle of grins as the issues discussed herein are quite serious and show little evidence of abating. In that sense, I can certainly understand that folks would stop reading the posts. (There are movies I have refused to watch simply because I would not find the subject matter entertaining…movies truly are escapist.) The photographs would also not be contenders for “most beautiful place” in most cases, although I have worked to make them purposeful in their presentation. I have tended more often than not lately to be more casual with the news. I still think it is vitally important to be informed, not misinformed or disinformed, citizens, and therefore have not stuck my head in the sand.

BW photograph of a road through the woods curving to the right.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I am an unsettled photographer/observer in unsettled times. That is, perhaps, the answer to the title question.

After all, there is this.

Please be safe and well.

Damage

April 22, 2022

BW photograph of tree stumps left after the wind snapped the trees.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today is Earth Day 2022.

BW photograph of broken trees laying in a waterway.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We have had a few reminders this week about the continuing damage being done to the environment and its impact on the living (here and here).

BW photograph of fallen trees and a boulder in a waterway.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

“It’s a tough time to be a tree” is the lead of a paragraph in the National Geographic article, which is the second link above (“The Future of Forests” is the main title).

BW photograph of a broken tree laying in a waterway among boulders.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Trees are an essential asset in combating the rise of greenhouse gases. However, as temperatures and droughts increase, as wildfires burn more intensely, as more severe storms knock them down (not to mention deforestation by humans), their ability to perform this function becomes compromised. This is a global issue-one most certainly not limited to the U.S.

Please do read the article for many more details.

Be safe and well…the global environment is not.

2022 Hurricane Season

April 17, 2022

BW photograph of broken trees laying amid large boulders.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Colorado State University forecast for the 2022 Hurricane Season has been available for a bit over a week now. That linked report contains the forecast and additional information regarding the increasing number and severity of such storms over the past few years.

BW photograph of broken trees laying atop large boulders.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The end of the report includes recommendations for hurricane preparedness-they are worth a review if one is not familiar with what to do in advance of these storms.

BW photograph of a section of decaying log laying atop leaves.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is also important to note that hurricanes are not the only formidable combination of wind and rain. The photographs herein are of trees knocked down by previous storms-many were from the tropical storms or tropical depressions that can occur as hurricanes degrade over land. Those types of storms can also occur on their own without a hurricane as a precursor. Tornadoes are another issue altogether-and are much less predictable than hurricanes. Several have already torn up parts of the U.S.

Living in the interior Mid-Atlantic and several hours drive from the coast, I have some experience with hurricanes-a couple of Category1s and the remnants from many other much larger storms. These, of course, do not compare to the devastation delivered by monsters such as Katrina and Andrew.

Be safe and well. Be prepared.

Ubiquity

April 9, 2022

BW photograph of a plastic soda bottle dropped on the ground.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Plastic is ubiquitous.

BW photograph of a kid's Nike sandal left laying on the ground.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I spent several years photographing trash that was left behind…much of this was various forms of plastics. (As an aside, think of one of the key scenes from the movie The Graduate: the “one word” that conceptualized Benjamin Braddock’s future.) It did not matter if I was in Maryland, Montana, or Maine; in cities or in the country; there was always subject matter in plain view. On any given day, even if I had not previously identified that which to photograph, I knew I could count on finding trash.

BW photograph of a crumpled plastic water bottle beside a road.
Copyright 2022 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Nothing has changed.

It is important to note that plastic does not decompose. It will simply degrade and break into smaller and smaller pieces-eventually becoming what is known as microplastics. Much has been written about this problem, and it is, indeed, a problem. These bits of plastic have permeated all geographies of the globe from mountain tops to ocean bottoms and have worked their way up the food chain.

They are in us.

Think about that.

This is also a recommended read.

Be safe and well.