Spring 2015

March 28, 2015

BW photograph of rocks with a bed of spring snow

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 20, was the first day of Spring.  On that day, approximately 2-3″ inches of snow fell…

BW photograph of an old shed with snow and fog

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

and that was followed by a bit of rain and slightly rising temperatures leading to decently heavy fog…

BW photograph of a distant tree with snow in the fog

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

all of which presented a bit of a disconnect from that date, season, and mindset.

March 20-21 is the date of the vernal equinox as explained here.  After a rough winter, the expectation is that with the ending of March and the beginning of spring, the cold and snow should be finished.  It is 28 degrees with snow showers as this is being written.

The words ‘expectation’ and ‘should’ is where the trouble comes as this speaks to a fixed mindset.  Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a very interesting book entitled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and it is worth a read.  While the above application is somewhat of a deviation from what Dr. Dweck describes, the idea of something “fixed” is that it is rigid and unchanging-what is shall be evermore.  Thinking in a fixed manner makes it very difficult to adjust and/or adapt to a present reality that is different from what one expects.  The fundamental conflict is that current data does not match the perceived (or desired) history.  Dr. Dweck argues that a growth mindset opens avenues for change and opportunity.

This idea certainly applies to one’s outlook on the weather and climate.  As has been discussed in many other posts within this site, weather is local and in the short-term (think this particular Spring in this particular area of the world) whereas climate is global and for the longer term.  The climate is changing as has been made clear in the Fifth Assessment Report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Please use this link and click the ‘Video’ link for a short summary of the report.  The full reference for the report is as follows:

IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Core Writing Team, R.K. Pachauri and L.A. Meyer (eds.)].

The ability to mitigate and adapt with regard to climate change begins with a change in mindset individually, nationally, and globally.

Take care.

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Road Trip

March 25, 2015

BW photograph of the Chesapeake City, MD. canal bridge.

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A quintessential component of American culture is the “road trip”.  The ability to get into a motor vehicle and drive to another place, both physically and mentally, can be one of the most effective coping mechanisms for the management of the stress of daily living.  Part of what makes this so American is that the road trip forms a marriage of car culture, music, food, and the core values of freedom and independence.

BW photograph of traps and floats in Chesapeake City, MD.

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is interesting to think what would have happened to that marriage were it not for the open road.  From a historical perspective, President Dwight D. Eisenhower is largely responsible for the interstate highway system as it exists in the United States.  During World War II, the then General Eisenhower  had served as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and had gained first-hand experience with how valuable an interconnected road system could be to a country.  The culmination of President Eisenhower’s vision of such a system was the passing of The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which significantly changed American life.  The fundamental means for a road trip was realized and the imprint it left on American culture can be seen throughout various industries:  music (think about Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run); food (the drive-in and the rise of the fast food chains); movies and television (Route 66 was a popular TV show); and finally, the proliferation of motor vehicles themselves (“See the USA in a Chevrolet” was a slogan at one time).

BW photograph of Whiteoak House in Chesapeake City, MD.

Copyright 2015 Kevin p. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Not all is so adventurous or nostalgic, though, as anyone stuck in traffic during rush hour can attest-and there are many other downsides; however, the goal of this post is to remain (at least somewhat) wistful.

The photographs included here were made during a short trip up I-95 North to Chesapeake City, Maryland.  (The “I” stands for “interstate”.  You can drive from Maine to Florida on I-95.)  This was far enough away to be “gone”, yet close enough to have not created exhaustion from the ride itself.  That, too me, is the perfect definition of “road trip”.

Take care.

 

 

Weather

March 15, 2015

2 red boats at dock with houses in the background

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This has been a winter for the record books in many parts of the country.  Locally, we may have turned the corner toward spring as the temperatures are (generally) warmer, which makes for nice walking…

2 red boats at dock with houses in the background in a rainstorm

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…except when it is pouring rain.  The only difference between the two photographs is the driving rain that fell throughout the following day.

Weather always provides a subjective experience.  The enormous amounts of snow that fell this winter were a financial boon to ski resorts and to folks who participate in winter sports.  Those who had to move the snow to get to work or even out of the house may not have enjoyed it so much.  I, for one, did not.

And then there is the battering and loss of life in Vanuatu, which was hammered by Cyclone Pam.  (This is another report.)  It is something to think that the calm tranquility depicted in the first photograph was occurring at relatively the same time as the storm in Vanuatu-the difference being that Vanuatu is on the other side of the world.  The islands in that immediate vicinity were also devastated by this Category 5 (the highest possible-think Hurricane Katrina) storm.  This is weather on another scale altogether.

Such an event also brings to mind the relativity of resources that can be brought to bear under these kinds of circumstances.  As described in this report, Vanuatu’s economy is based on the types of activities that such a storm quite handily devastates, which highlights the need for international aid and support.  Please consider assisting in any way possible.

Take care.

After the Snow

March 14, 2015

Wrench 2387

Last weekend the weather warmed and 10-12 inches of snow began to melt away.  It is always interesting to see what had been lost and is then uncovered.

As an aside, this artifact was moved before being photographed to protect the photographer’s well-being.  It is truly not a good idea to make photographs while standing in the road…

Take care.

Tones

March 9, 2015

BW photograph of an abandoned house porch with overgrowth

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Snow can often be used as an important compositional element.

BW photograph of an abandoned garage hidden by overgrowth

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is an old abandoned house and garage that I have passed with some regularity and have thought about photographically more often than that.  You see, old buildings have a presence and declining dignity that make for wonderful character studies, especially in black & white.  By removing the colour, what is left is the deepest blacks moving on through the graduated greys, and, with the addition of snow, pure white.  It is this entire range of tones that is pleasing in B&W photography.  The unblemished snow provides an additional contrast to the decaying wood that goes beyond the tonal aspects of composition.

BW photograph of an abandoned house with overgrowth

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Buildings in this condition provide a powerful example of impermanence-what was once strong enough to withstand such weather and provide warmth and shelter literally in the storm, now succumb to the very same elements.  It is actually for this reason that the “weathered” portions of snow were included in the compositions as well.  Given that the sun was out and the temperature nearly 60, even close to a foot of snow would itself not last long.

BW photograph of an abandoned house with overgrowth and a buzzard lying overhead

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It was a true bit of serendipity that the buzzard sailed by.

Take care.

In the End…

March 8, 2015

BW photograph of a circular firepit covered with snow

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…we received a bit more than ten inches of snow during the most recent storm.

BW photograph of footprints through the snow with trees to the side and background

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Given that schools were closed, and once the snowfall ceased, many were out-and-about making tracks everywhere.

BW photograph of telephone poles across a snow covered hill

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Having had about as much cabin fever as could be tolerated, it certainly seemed to be time to make a different kind of tracks and take a bit of a road trip.  More importantly, the sun was out and the skies were mostly clear so there was no form of precipitation whatsoever coming down.

BW photograph of fence posts crossing a snow covered hill

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

All of that made for a very pleasant drive…

BW photograph of a crashed auto bumper in a snowbank beside a road

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

which stood in stark contrast to the conditions during the storm-they were quite hazardous as the icy sleet and heavy snows made for a very rough go.

BW photograph of a crashed auto bumper in a snowbank beside a road

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

These remains were located near the bottom of a blindly curving hill that can be uncomfortable in good weather if one is moving too quickly.  It would have been especially difficult when covered in icy snow-even if doing the speed limit-as the forward momentum of a few tons of steel, aluminum, plastic, rubber, and glass would want to keep going straight rather than make the sweeping arc to the right.  This is what was left behind from just one of the many accidents and various vehicles that left the road as the storm blanketed our area.  Even with all of the technology available in modern transportation, especially on occasions such as the one just past, vehicles are still no match for the physics and atmospherics of weather.

Take care.

Perceptions

March 5, 2015

BW photograph of pine trees in a heavy snow storm.

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Yesterday’s forecast was for rain, then sleet, then snow overnight and throughout today with a total accumulation of 6-10″.  This morning presented a very fine and inexorably steady snow that was quite beautiful to see.  However, it also brought the thought “when did snow stop being fun?”

After all, 25 years ago these were the exact conditions one could only hope for as I did the majority of my backpacking in winter.  I have written about this in previous posts and so will not belabour that point.  However, I distinctly remembered a winter trip into White Oak Canyon down in the Shenandoah mountains of Virginia.  This was before photography became such an important part of my life, so the only images I have of the trip are in my long-term memory.  Nonetheless, it was an incredibly existential trip and very fondly perceived and remembered as “that was fun.”

With that in mind, I walked about two miles for a cup of coffee this morning as the snow came down.  There was very little traffic, so it was quite quiet and still.  It was easy to hear the crunch and squeak of the snow underfoot.  The cold and wet created a stinging sensation on the face that was actually quite exhilarating.  Once again the thought came to mind “that was fun”.

BW photograph of snow piled outside of a window.

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And then I began to shovel the driveway.  I have a very long driveway and operate on the theory that it is better to move 5″ twice than to move 10″ once.  Given the amount of moisture in this weather system and the rain that fell yesterday, there was a thin coat of icy slush under the heavy snow.   The thought that kept circulating through my mind was “this is not fun.”  That perception was magnified by the new inch or so of snow that fell while I was shoveling.  As I am writing, the snow is continuing to fall and there is no doubt that the predicted total of 10″ or so will be on the ground before the storm is finished.  I will be out there again tomorrow.

While doing that first go ’round with the snow, I again returned to that 25-years-ago mindset and remembered how on days like this there would be older children and young adults coming to the door with tools in hand offering to do the shoveling for a fee.  Of course, my pride and lower back were much stronger then and it was difficult to allow someone else to do what was perceived to be my job.  It has been years since anyone has come by with that offer.  Perhaps the younger ones grew up and moved to Arizona.  What has not changed over time is the perception that moving the snow is my job.

If someone did make that offer now, what would I do?

Take care.