Separation

June 21, 2018

BW photograph of a No Trespassing sign laying on the ground.

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

Over the past few days, the separation of children from their parents/families at the U.S. border is an issue that has been widely covered and discussed.  The latest controversy also (again) brings to the fore the legacy of U.S. immigration policy.  Significantly, the implementation of detention and deportation policies appear to often hinge on keys words contained in or absent from previous legislation.  For example, former Assistant Attorney Leon Fresco points out the importance of the word “unaccompanied” being excluded from the Flores case, which was decided in 1996.  (The meaning of words and their contextual significance is the basis for the Symbolic Interactionism theory in Sociology.)

With regard to Sociology, one of the significant agents of socialization (those institutions charged with the transmission of culture from one generation to the next) is media.  How one thinks and/or feels about this separation, and immigration in general, is influenced by the sources of information to which one pays attention.  This report from NPR discusses the differing manner by which the current immigration issue is being framed by various news outlets.  What is being highlighted here is that difference-the same story is being explained/analyzed by competing belief systems.  That which is held to be “true” or “fake news” is most likely influenced by confirmation bias-the tendency to select and judge the credibility of sources based on those that contain information supporting pre-existing views.  Quite simply, we tend to agree with those sources that present information consistent with our views.

In a separate report, NPR addressed the potential implications of the stress-induced trauma that occurs under such conditions.  Given the age of the children, the plasticity of the brain during those developmental stages, and the magnitude of the emotional and biochemical response from being forcibly separated from one’s family, this is an issue of concern.  One would do well to put aside political views and attend to this as a humanitarian issue.  Indeed, the U.N. has called such separations illegal, and the living former first ladies have also condemned the action.

Two bills to address immigration are scheduled for a House vote later today-both would legislate the keeping of families together.  (The president finally did utilize his formerly denied executive power to do the same.  That, however, does not ameliorate the issue.)  Given the deep political divides regarding immigration, it is doubtful that either of these bills will pass.  Therefore, the immigration impasse, one based on the implementation of zero tolerance, will, in all likelihood, continue.

That we are a nation of immigrants appears to be considered irrelevant.

Take care.

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BW photograph of Morgan Run just after a rain.

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

it was the worst of times…”  While that is part of an extremely impressive beginning to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it has now become quite the cliché.  Nonetheless, it was apropos for this particular day at Morgan Run.

BW photograph of a rock with water flowing around it.

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

A bit of a Spring rain had just ended leaving the water with a gentle flow…

BW photograph of a poplar leaf laying atop a rock.

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

while the light was nice and soft as a result of the still overcast skies.  More rain was yet to come.

As such, the sights and sounds provided by nature were all that one could want.

BW photograph of a crushed plastic bottle.

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

BW photograph of two plastic bottles laying among some leaves.

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

BW photograph of a flipflop laying among leaves.

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

At the same time, the human imprint was also quite evident.  That is, unfortunately, most often the case-especially now that the weather has warmed and more people are accessing the area.

Take care.

 

 

Fallen

June 9, 2018

BW photograph of a fallen, broken, tree.

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

Over the past few months, and especially recently, many images of deadfall and the result of the interaction between weather and trees have been posted and discussed.  The one above is in keeping with those themes.  As this is being written, the sky is darkening as the latest round of thunderstorms is building.

Photographically, diagonal lines can draw the viewer’s attention.  While vertical and horizontal lines imply stability, diagonal lines induce a bit of tension in a scene.  The tension in this particular photograph, though, has already been released as the tree has fallen.   Still, there remains a bit of drama as the tree is neither vertical nor completely horizontal.

The existential question remains:  did it make a sound when it fell?

Take care.

Ellicott City et al

May 29, 2018

BW photograph of flood debris along Big Hunting Creek.

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

Pursuant to the last post regarding the power of water, Ellicott City, MD experienced what will most likely be labeled its second “1 in a 1,000 year” floods within the past two years on Sunday.  The discussion of re-building and how to mitigate this pattern has begun anew.  The storm standards and the manner by which to meet them is reminiscent of the debates that have continued since the devastation of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  For those in Ellicott City, one can only imagine the difficulty of sorting the emotional and economic impact of facing these decisions after such a relatively short period of time.

On a related note, NOAA has forecast a “…near-or above-normal 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.”  Importantly,  the first named storm of the 2018 season, Alberto, has already hit the Southeast portion of the U.S.

Both of these events (Ellicott City and Alberto) have cost lives and have created enormous damage in their respective areas of impact.

Shutter speed tricks cannot smooth that away.

Take care.

Weather Whiplash

May 24, 2018

BW photograph of a tree's shadow cast over a dry portion of Morgan Run rock field.

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

During the month of May 2018, we have had heat (several days of record-setting temperatures) followed by cold-or what certainly felt cold after those highs.  The comment about “felt” is a key clarification, as everything is relative.  The “just noticeable difference”, or Weber’s Law, is the amount of change required to be remarkable a certain percentage of the time.  While I am not sure the exact temperature gradient for the just noticeable difference, going from 90 degrees to the 60s or 70s was certainly noticeable.

BW photograph of Morgan Run after days of heavy rains.

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

Over the past week or so there has been much rain, which resulted in localized flooding.  The dry stone patch photographed in the lead image above is to the lower right corner in the above photo of Morgan Run and covered by water.

BW photograph of Big Hunting Creek after several days of heavy rains.

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

The above photograph is Big Hunting Creek, which is in Thurmont, Maryland.

This recent article from The Baltimore Sun summarizes the recent amounts of rain for various regions in Maryland.

BW photograph of water run-off after torrential rains.

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

Frederick, MD was hit especially hard.

The manner by which to creating the smooth, almost dreamy effect of the water will be explained below.  Importantly, though, while this can be beautiful for imagery, it very much masks the enormous power of so much water falling for such an extended period of time.

BW photograph of a section of tree trunk laying along an embankment after a flood.

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

That was quite a chunk of tree deposited along the bank of Morgan Run.

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

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

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

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

 

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

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

Trees in rocky soil or those along river banks often have shallow root systems.  Given the saturation of the ground and the extraordinary height and weight that mature trees possess, once they start to list, gravity will then finish the job.  Should they fall into the water, the current will carry the trees downriver until blocked.  The above photographs were made in Thurmont, MD. and are multiple images of the same tree.

BW photograph of a sycamore root system after it has fallen against an overpass.

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

This sycamore was in Detour, MD.  Detour sits in a hollow along the Monocacy River-in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes went through the area, the town of Detour was itself inundated by the floodwaters of the Monocacy leaving its banks.

BW photograph of a fallen sycamore tree against an overpass.

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

While it was not evident that this occurred at this time, it was still hazardous to be out and about.

As an aside, while this post was being drafted, it was again raining hard.

Today, as the blog is being posted, it is sunny and in the 80s again.

Weather Whiplash.

Take care.

Photographic Note:  It takes a slow shutter speed to create the smoothed-out texture of the water shown here.  Having a voluminous amount of water that is running quite fast is a good start.  To that, add a smallish aperture (f/8 in these cases), both a polarizer (to remove glare) and a neutral density filter (to cut more light), and as low an ISO (200 or 400 in these cases-the extra stop provided by the higher ISO was sometimes desired to create a not-such-a-long shutter speed) as possible, and the shutter speed is easily reduced to about 30 seconds or so.

Need for Zen

May 8, 2018

BW photograph of flowing water.

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

There are some days that require a larger dose of Zen than others.

BW photograph of a branch over flowing water.

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

Today is one of those days.

BW photograph of flowing water.

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

Being an informed citizen brings with it the risk of riding the roller coaster of daily news.  Much like the “weather whiplash” moniker from the last post, that phrase would appear to be applicable for many other subjects as well.  Simply replace “weather” with whatever stories dominate a given day.  Chances are, within a few days, there will be something else that comes to the fore and demands one’s attention.

There are at least two dangers with such a rapid cycle of news.  The first is the criticality of the displaced issues being lost-out of sight, out of mind.  The second is the numbness that accompanies an overload of one’s senses.

As such, it is evermore important to maintain an individuated sense of balance and perspective.  This includes recognizing the options available for legitimate action.

Tuning out is not a productive long-term option.

Take care.

BW photograph looking down a street of row homes the morning after a rain.

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

During the weekend before the one just past, a cold front blew in triggering the first (very brief) thunderstorm of the season.  The next morning, it was 42 degrees with a stiff wind.  Many clouds remained, which created a nice ceiling for the strong early morning directional light.

BW photograph looking down onto Chimney Rock.

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

A bit later that same week, the temperature hit the low 90-degree mark in the Baltimore/Washington area for a couple of days, which set temperature records.  It felt literally and figuratively like we had bypassed Spring and moved right into Summer.  Two related articles (here and here) address this kind of volatility that may well become the norm going forward.  The term “weather whiplash” seems appropriately descriptive.

Interestingly, both of these photographs here were made by relying on a low-angled sun early in the morning to create the strong highlights and deep shadows.  The only noticeable difference between the two days was the ambient temperature, which the photographs do not convey:  it was much, much warmer when the second photo was made.

Take care.