Flora and Fauna

September 18, 2018

BW photograph of the Hog Rock Trail heading toward Cunningham Falls on a foggy morning.

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

One of the other real advantages to being up and out before the sunrise is that you get to experience the waking up of the world around you.  Yes, in some situations this means more people, and more cars, and more mechanical noise.  Out in the woods, though, this changes.  For example, the various species of birds begin to sing their songs.  The aroma of the air and the texture of the ground underfoot change.  Various plants open and/or reorient themselves.  It is quite a sensory experience.

BW photograph of the split end of a tree limb laying on the ground.

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

Speaking of such, I am currently reading A Year in the Maine Woods by Dr. Bernd Heinrich.  The author is able to provide ample details as to which species makes which sounds and when or which tree is in which stage of development.  He is quite learned and has put extraordinary effort into being so.  Early in my photographic career, I spent quite a bit of time attempting to develop such knowledge.  Arguably, as per photographer John Shaw, being a well-informed naturalist would be as asset in the pursuit of photography.  This is most certainly true for one making specific photographs of particular species-you can learn when to be where for the desired image.  On the other hand, I have gotten to a point where I do not need to know which species are making what sounds as I am not interested in that degree of selectivity in my photography.  I prefer a greater degree of serendipity to my process-I wander and photograph what catches my eye.  However, I absolutely need to know that the species are.

This latter point is quite important, because we are in an age, the Anthropocene, which may very well mean they aren’t.

Please be sure to read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural HistoryThis is Ms. Kolbert’s The New Yorker article addressing the same topic.

Take care.

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45 Miles

September 16, 2018

BW photograph of a foggy sunrise looking out from Hog Rock.

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

Driving forty-five miles in one direction gets me to work.  (The photograph above is definitely not about work…)

BW photograph of the sunrise looking out from the Thurmont Vista.

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

Driving forty-five miles in the opposite direction gets me to the mountains.  Both are important…both are necessary.

In the years, decades really, that I have driven these routes, today is the first time noticing the symmetry.

BW photograph of the Hog Rock Trail steps on a foggy morning.

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

Once thinking about this, there are other similarities as well:  Leaving for work early in the morning is necessary to avoid traffic-leaving for the mountains early in the morn is necessary to await the sunrise.  Leaving early for both also reduces the number of people encountered along the way.  Finally, doing so is a means of achieving/maintaining a degree of serenity.

That brings some balance to the ‘verse.

Take care.

Rain (Continued)

September 13, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run after Gordon's floods but before the arrival of Florence.

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

The title is both literal and figurative.

Rain has been the main subject over the past few posts.  Even though “Rocks” documents a hike that took place on an 80+ degree humid morning, the main emphasis was the impact of the rain in this region.  Over the past few days, the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon has dumped a copious amount of rain.  The above photograph is of Morgan Run from this past Tuesday morning, and depicts a vastly lower water level than existed this past Sunday morning-it was still raining hard then.  Mostly cloudy and misty conditions have prevailed since, with smaller periods of heavy rain.

Given that the water level had fallen, what was left to document was the result of the flooding.

BW photograph of the erosion debris onthe walkway at Morgan Run after a recent deluge.

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

This is the debris that had either been washed down the walkway from the parking lot or had been deposited by the current during the most recent flooding at Morgan Run.  For a bit of perspective, the fishing platform in the background was under water on Sunday.

BW photograph of a leaning Sycamore tree's roots that have been exposed due to flooding.

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

BW photograph of a row of Sycamore roots exposed by flood waters.

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

The photographs above show the exposed roots of several large Sycamore trees.

BW photograph of a pine tree's roots exposed by flooding at Morgan Run.

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

These belong to a pine tree nearby.

The high water mark from the weekend was well above the location of these trees-in other words, they were partially under water over the weekend.  Morgan Run has over-topped its banks several times this year, which has resulted in the soil being washed away.  It goes without saying that this is a cumulative effect-Morgan Run has flooded many times in the years that I have been visiting the area.

BW photograph of broken logs wedged against Sycamore roots after a flood.

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

When the water does rise, Morgan Run can flow at a pretty good clip, so the degree of erosion is not surprising.  Logs banging into the tree trunks are an additional stress.

BW photograph of rocks amid some exposed roots after a flood.

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

In many areas, the soil has been replaced by loose rocks and stones.  As such, there is a lesser amount of firm ground to hold the trees in place.

BW photograph of a maple leaf in mud marked by the water's current.

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

The Mid-Atlantic has been inundated by rain and the ground is saturated.  Hurricane Florence is now forecast to make landfall late Friday into early Saturday.  This area is on the outer reach of the current trajectory (the Carolinas), but she will certainly drop more rain here as the storm progresses.  In fact, while Florence has lost some wind speed, the main concern is the historic amount of rain and subsequent flooding that is expected.  Indeed, the adjective “biblical” has been used to characterize that aspect of the storm.  Florence is expected to stall over the Carolinas in much the same manner as Hurricane Harvey did over Houston just over a year ago.  Harvey’s rainfall set a record-will Florence top that?  It does bear repeating that we continue to see the escalating impact of climate change on the formation and impact of such storms.

Meanwhile, Olivia is battering Hawaii and out in the Atlantic, Isaac, Helene, and Joyce are spinning.

Across the Atlantic, parts of Europe are experiencing the opposite effects of climate change.

Climate change is clearly a global issue that manifest itself in a variety of ways-most of which are extremely detrimental to flora, fauna, and the built environ.  It really is a problem that many in power and those who vote for such perspectives fail to recognize this.

Take care.

Rocks

September 8, 2018

BW photograph looking down a hiking trail through the woods.

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

This past week’s 100 degree plus heat-index adjusted temperatures notwithstanding, it has been quite wet this year.  That accounts for the amount of greenery in the vegetation.  It is raining now, and the forecast calls for rain off and on over the coming week.

BW photograph of the loose rocks on a hiking trail looking up the trail.

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

Due to the amount of precipitation, some portions of some of the hiking trails in the local mountains have become a bit dicey due to the amount of loose rock that has accumulated on the downhill slopes-of course, they become the uphill inclines on the return.

BS photograph of loose rocks on a hiking trail looking straight down.

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

As such, this scree can make for unstable footing.  The flatter pieces will slide underfoot, while those of the rounder variety will roll as if they were ball bearings.  Adding moisture makes it all rather more slick.  One must be careful to not twist an ankle or end up on one’s backside.  With regard to the latter, my grandmother would have referred to this as “falling ass over tea kettle”.  How that expression came about, I do not know.  I absolutely understand the meaning, though.

These conditions also give a bit of a different meaning to the term “rock and roll”.

Wearing appropriate footwear and using hiking poles (a tripod makes a nice substitute) certainly helps to keep one upright.

Take care.

 

Building

September 4, 2018

BW photograph of pre-thunderstorm cumulous clouds.

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

It is interesting to watch the changes in clouds as a storm builds…

BW photograph of clouds during a thunderstorm with trees in the foreground.

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

delivers…

BW photograph of post-thunderstorm clouds over a meadow, treeline, and house.

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

and dissipates.

This was a very minor storm without much rumbling or rain.  In fact, it felt quite nice to stand outside and feel the precipitation.  Such is not the case with Typhoon Jebi, which hit Japan today.  Tropical Storm Gordon smacked parts of Florida and is now forecast to morph into a hurricane before hitting the U.S. Gulf Coast later today.  Meanwhile, Hurricane Florence is spinning out in the Atlantic-time will tell if that storm becomes a threat.

This article from earlier in the summer provides a useful explanation about the factors used to forecast the number of storms in a given hurricane season-please note that this is for the Atlantic basin, so storms like Typhoon Jebi would not be included.  This is a complex discipline that requires the analysis of multiple data points.  Having presented that information, the author, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, concludes with perhaps the most important point.

Take care.

9/6/18 UPDATE:  This is the latest regarding Hurricane Florence.

Being There

August 26, 2018

BW photograph of the moon setting between the trees in the Peach Orchard at Gettysburg.

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

As evocative as photographs are, or at least aspire to be, they are no substitute for being present in the environ in which they are made.

BW photograph of the moon setting over a picket fence.

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

BW photograph of a fog shrouded tree across an empty field.

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

BW photograph of fog enveloped trees.

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

BW photograph of a foggy field with a barn and house in the background.

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

While one might imagine what it may have felt like to be out on such a morning, or have memories from similar experiences, they are, however, not the same as being there in the moment, today, to physically feel the cool moisture from the damp air; to watch the moon slip away and the fog come up only to be subsequently burned off by the rising sun; and to hear the stunning sound of…nothing.  It was perhaps the muffled quiet that was so remarkable.

This particular morning will never happen again.

It was nice to be there.

Take care.

Greys

August 23, 2018

BW photograph of an overcast day in Mercer, ME.

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

Having deep distinct blacks and bright white highlights provide the end-point contrast for striking BW photography.  However, the gradations throughout the middle-tone greys are necessary to provide the full range of tones for this medium.  Otherwise, you would have what BW photographers refer to as the “chalk and soot” look.

BW photograph of an old Ford tractor with a front end loader.

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

The black-grey-white transitions, combined with the absence of colour, which is often overworked via the Saturation controls in photo-editing software, provides a sense of purity, a sense of “completeness”, to the imagery.

Take care.