February 25, 2014

Ice crystals that have formed in puddle in road.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Nature is capable of producing intricate shapes-ice is an excellent example as crystals can align themselves in a variety of ways as a result of time and ambient temperatures.

Snow that is shaped like Italy and Corsica.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In other instances the human touch has an impact.  Look familiar?

Take care.


February 23, 2014

Dead fish among debris in water

I have been a stills photographer from the beginning and I greatly appreciate the ability to make a photograph, a single image, which can tell an entire story.

However, the siren call of video has been blaring for awhile now and it is time to acquiesce.  I have been reading various books and have begun to noodle around with the gear.  My equipment consists of a couple of cameras that are definitely capable of professional results when used by someone with such a level of experience.  Being a relative beginner I am very aware that video requires a different skill set that will (hopefully) improve with an increased level of production as I practice.  (That certainly worked for the stills.)  There is also a learning curve with the software to make the type of video I have in mind.  And my mind is actually, precisely, the issue.

I currently operate with a stills mindset.

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. wrote Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success and it is worth a read. Essentially, Dr. Dweck sees the concept of mindset as “…the view you adopt for yourself…” (pg. 6) and it “…profoundly affects the way you lead your life” (pg. 6).  I see this as the mental map that one draws becomes one’s way in the world.  Dr. Dweck goes on to differentiate between “believing that your qualities are carved in stone –the fixed mindset…” and “This growth mindset (which) is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts” (pgs. 6 & 8 respectively).  There is much more Dr. Dweck has to say about her research on this topic and that is the reason for reading the book.  Briefly, it appears that having a fixed mindset creates either/or scenarios, which, may in fact, be quite limiting whereas a growth mindset opens up a myriad of possibilities.  One’s own thinking becomes the door that opens or closes depending on which view is adopted.

Active snowstorm photographed from hotel window overlooking stores and busy street,

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Here is an example from a trip this past week.  I have wanted some ocean and beach development photographs for another project on which I am working and had a perfect opportunity to make those.  The recent combination of snow and rain had stopped; the sun was out and the air was comfortably cold.

Looking down the legs toward the sand while walking on the beach.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What made it even better was that the sand was tightly packed from the moisture that had fallen from the sky and the chilly ambient temperature-perfect for walking.

Tire tracks in sand in front of buildings near the ocean.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

So, I made the images and left for the long drive home.  The fixed mindset-“I need a set of photographs to illustrate a sociological issue”-was realized, but it allowed me to narrow my view of the subject’s potential and thus led to a missed opportunity as a day or so later the thought lazered into my head:  I should have (also) shot some video. Moving away from the “I am a stills photographer” (fixed) mindset would have opened up the possiblites of both visual mediums.  The fact that I have been able to learn to make the photographs I want does reflect the point that hard work can bring about change.  Given that the thought of shooting some video eventually entered my consciousness also reflects growth.

I just need to work to make those thoughts more timely.

Take care.


February 13, 2014

Snow buried in 17" of snow.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This part of the world received 19 inches of snow last night and this morning, and then it started to rain.

Windshield wipers protruding from snow.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This left the snow with a consistency that was certainly not powder, but not nearly as wet as it could have been.  It was not sweepable and definitely required shoveling.  I have a long driveway and therefore a lot of snow to move-the only way to finish it is to start.   Thinking about that reminded me of Rick Ridgeway who wrote The Last Step, which is about the 1978 American expedition to climb K2-at 28,250 feet it is the second highest mountain in the world.  With reference to the title, Mr. Ridgeway says the last step must begin with the first.  This is a very helpful thought to keep in mind when facing any task.

It also helps to turn off the mind and settle into a rhythm.  The density of the snow allowed for a three-step process:  cut a square with the blade of the shovel, scoop the snow block (lifting, of course, with the legs and not the back-one must use proper technique), and then move it aside.  Cut, scoop, move; cut scoop move; and so on for the length of the driveway.  The repetitive movement is what brings about a sense of zen-like transcendence.  (This was periodically broken as every once in a while the snow piles would visibly settle with the telltale “womp”-this a sound mountaineers prefer to not hear as it often precedes an avalanche.)   Maintaining a narrow focus on only the next block of snow and keeping the rhythm going rather than looking up to see just how much had yet to be shoveled allowed for a sense of calm that was actually somewhat pleasant.

Reaching the end of the driveway terminated the zen-like state, and not because the task was (almost) finished.  No, the County Highway Department was also plowing the road and proceeded to block the driveway another four or five times with heavy, hard-packed, chunks of snow.  Very frustrating.  Instead of an exercise in zen it became a Sisyphean task.

There is still more snow to shovel, but it is time for a cup of tea.

As an aside, it was 63 degrees in Sochi, Russia today.

Take care.


February 9, 2014

Liberty Reservoir frozen with snow.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A new batch of snowy sleet has moved in all the while thousands are still without power in parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and points north.  The storm this past Wednesday added rain to an already wet snow, which was then covered with a thick layer of ice making it very difficult for trees and power lines to withstand the strain.  One report on NPR today indicated that this last storm was the second worst to hit the Philadelphia area, behind only Super Storm Sandy, in terms of the number of individuals to have lost power.  It has also been quite cold and so keeping warm and the pipes from freezing would have been, and is still for many, an effort.  Such conditions certainly can be the origin of some strong emotions…

Lost glove frozen in provocative position with extended middle finger.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

which may be reflected by this artifact left over from that earlier snow.

Take care.

East Coast Ice

February 5, 2014

Holly tree and snow and ice.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography, All rights reserved.

The storm earlier this week dropped 6″ of extremely wet snow that set up like concrete once it stopped moving.  This morning presented 1/4″ or so of ice as the rain from last night froze once hitting the ground.

Broken orange blossom bush with ice.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

While making these images, periodically there would be a large crack as trees began to shed limbs.  It is surprising how much that amount of ice weighs and is no wonder that trees are over-burdened.  This orange blossom could not take the weight and collapsed.

Lavender and snow and ice.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Time will tell how this lavender bush will do come Spring…

Pine sapling coated in ice.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

while this pine sapling has been quite resilient over the course of the winter.  The young are often much more adaptable to change.

Walnut tree coated with ice.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

On the other hand, this significantly larger and fully mature walnut tree dropped a few its smaller limbs.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country,  the Los Angeles area finally received a bit of rain-that part of the country has been in an extreme drought leaving some municipalities unsure of how to continue to supply water to the residents.  A much lower than normal amount of snow has exacerbated the issue as there is not much snow melt to add to the shrinking reservoirs.

It is also important not to forget the extremely bitter cold experienced by those in the Dakotas, Illinois, and other Mid-West states.  If this is the new normal, there are a lot of adjustments to be made.

Take care.