August 25, 2013

Construction cranes behind movie theatre against cloudy sky.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The weather has continued to be much cooler than usual this time of year and with lower humidity.  As a result, skies are blue and populated with puffy, cumulus clouds.  The above scene offered a pleasant combination of hues and tones and so I made a few frames at a local mall.

Not long after having set up my kit, a security officer drove up and asked what I was doing.  I explained my rationale, citing the above information.  He informed me that the company who owns the property, General Growth Properties, does not allow photography on its property.  I assumed that since I was in the parking lot, I was on public property.  That was a faulty assumption, which was clarified by the security officer.  When GGP bought the mall and theatre, they also bought the parking lots-therefore, they are private property.  GGP appears to think that anyone with a camera taking pictures is a “terrorist” in this post-9/11 world.  That was a faulty assumption on their part.

It is also interesting to note that my behaviour was apparently being watched by cameras many hundreds of yards away.  Credit must be given where it is due:  the officer arrived within a few minutes of my starting to make photographs, so security there seems to be very responsive.  The officer explained the company’s policy and rationale in a pleasant and even manner and therefore was thoroughly professional in his interaction with me.  That was certainly appreciated.

The old adage about assumptions seems to be true:  when you make one, you make an ass out of you and me.

Take care.


August 22, 2013

Early morning in Fells Point.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I am a morning person.

Boats at dock opening to the Baltimore Harbour.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

All of us have a circadian rhythm, which is an internal clock that largely determines our degree of wakefulness throughout the day.  Several different brain structures are involved and turn on or turn off when interacting with light.  While there is a degree of genetics at play here, meaning folks tend to be “morning persons” or “evening persons”, an individual circadian rhythm can be “trained” or regulated though the application of a consistent, disciplined, daily schedule of going to sleep and awakening at the same time on a daily basis.  At this point in my life, my internal clock awakens me around 5:00 a.m. (which is often earlier than the setting for my external clock) and I am mostly done for the day around 9:00 pm.  This pattern started when I was in college and needed to take early morning classes so as to be available for various sports’ practices in the afternoon.  Once I entered the working world, getting up and out early allowed me to avoid the heaviest traffic.  Quite a functional pattern.

Early morning runners.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved

Aside from the functionality, there is an aesthetic appeal to the early morning also:  both the ambient light and general environment are quiet.  It is possible to actually hear the footsteps of someone running past.  Folks are not as yet completely wired to their technology (or wired by their technology) and will actually make eye contact and say “good morning”.  Very civil.

Man walking a dog.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

On a related note, today, August 22, is International Street Photographer’s Day.  Henri Cartier-Bresson is often considered the prototypical street photographer and today is his birthday.  Practicing some street photography before the city was completely awake was one more reason to be up and out early this particular morning.

Take care.

Fall 2013

August 20, 2013

Sun rising over two piers in Fells Point

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

August is inexorably closing in on September and yet the weather over the past few days in the Mid-Atlantic has been delightful-sunny, low humidity, and cooler-than-usual temperatures.  Those conditions are due to change here directly, but it has been a wonderful time to be outside.

Old factory being deconstructed.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The early morning light provides, in this case, a direct, front light that is especially nice for architecture.  This is an old factory that sat abandoned for years and appears to now be in the process of deconstruction.

Catonsville Library.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In another case, the sun has not quite cleared another building and creates a shadow on the subject.  This is the library for a local community college and as we continue that slide toward Fall and the oncoming academic year, schools and colleges are gearing up for the start of classes, which means more time inside for faculty, staff, and soon, students as well.  Fall puts the focus back on academics and the preparation of folks of all ages to meet the demands of an ever-changing, very competitive, global community.

As recent Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study data indicate, the United States continues to lag behind several other countries in those two disciplines.  Six years ago Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, made the case that improving the math and science skills of students is one of two areas America needed to change in order to remain at the forefront of innovation, which he considered to be the most important economic issue.  Six years later, test scores would appear to indicate that this has not happened as yet.  While this is a very complex problem requiring cooperation between government, businesses, educational groups, and individual families, the bottom line is fairly simple:  we must do a better job of education.

Perhaps this will be the year the U.S. begins to close that gap.

Take care.


August 6, 2013

Mile marker on old railroad trail.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Milestones.  Mile markers.  Birthdays.  Holidays.  Anniversaries.   Contracts.

All of these are ways in which we take stock of from where we have come, where we are, and perhaps, where we are going.  They are to be looked forward to, cursed, remembered, and sometimes paid off and/or forgotten.  Some seem to last forever-others are a bit of ash in the wind.

For instance, I was on my way to work one day in the late 80’s and I had an epiphany.   Before going any further, it is important to note that I was married at the time, had a child, a mortgage, life insurance, and a car payment.  By all the standard measures of American culture, including my age, I would have been considered an adult.  The key is that those are external measures and speak not at all to a way of thinking.  Here is my point:  a Dunkin Donuts was just off to my right and a seriously electrifying thought hit me – “I could stop and buy a donut if I wanted.”  As a result, oddly, at that exact moment, I consciously knew and acknowledged that I was an adult.  I actually felt it.  The physical sensation, which I now understand to have been a result of dopamine and norepinephrine being released in my brain, lasted but an instant.  The perception, the meaning which I attached to the feeling, has been with me since.  No, I did not make the turn into the parking lot.  (Being able to delay gratification, now that is a real sign of an adult.)

It is actually with more than a bit of embarrassment that I relay that story and it speaks volumes about my way in the world up to that point.  It was remarkable moment, though, and clearly remembered for over 25 years.   The recognition of freewill and the ability to direct one’s own life is quite powerful, and, as the saying goes, comes with great responsibility.  (Which, of course, is a line delivered with high drama by both Gandalf in Lord of the Rings and by Peter Parker’s uncle in Spiderman.)

And taking personal responsibility for the conduct of one’s own life is something which folks do to a greater or lesser degree as the years mount.

Take care.

Morgan Run Creek whitewater.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was a rainy morning and my plans to photograph Fells Point were, quite literally, washed out.  So, I bought a cup of coffee, grumbled more than a little bit about not being able to shoot what I wanted and drove off.  As I was moving on closer to home, I remembered Morgan Run, a lovely bit of running water, and thought that with the rain and overcast sky, it would be worth a visit.  It was.  The light was nice and soft and the water was moving on.  Fortunately, the rain had stopped enough for a moment or two and allowed for bit of quiet in the woods.  Pretty nice.

Empy beer cans in front of "Alcohol Prohibited" sign.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Unfortunately, as is much too often the case, the subtle beauty of a natural environ was spoiled by people.  I get the need for a parking lot-despite what Joni Mitchell laments  (“…they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”  I do agree with the sentiment behind the lyric, but that is for another time.)  Morgan Run has a wheel chair ramp so as to allow access to the water; this is a popular place for fishing; and there are some trails that line the creek on either side and so this is also a nice place to walk.  The parking lot is not the problem.  Folks not caring to read or follow directions is.  It is also possible that there were other factors that led to the deposit of trash in an area where this was not supposed to have happened.

Biologically and neurologically the first part of the brain affected by alcohol is the frontal lobe.  This is our seat of reasoning, judgment, critical thinking, and decision-making, which collectively are often referred to as our “executive functions” or “higher level thinking”.  Alcohol, being a sedative/hypnotic drug in the depressant category, creates “disinhibition”-that is, once the frontal lobe has been impaired, reasoning, judgment, critical thinking, and decision-making are compromised and the person drinking is more likely to act on impulse or exercise poor judgment.  This is the fundamental reason folks do things while consuming alcohol that they would not consider doing otherwise.  One does not have to be completely intoxicated for this to happen either, although the more one drinks the higher the blood alcohol level and the greater the impairment-not just in thinking, but with motor skills as well.  That can make following even very simple directions difficult.

Now, I am clearly making an assumption as I was not here to witness the incident: my frontal lobe may very well be collating the evidence and arriving at an inaccurate judgment. It certainly is possible that the alcohol was consumed at some other location and then the cans were dumped here.  In that scenario, the “Alcohol Prohibited” may well have not been relevant.  What is not shown in this photograph is the sign prohibiting litter.

Take care.