Beauty

July 30, 2015

BW photograph of Morgan Run looking upstream on a foggy morning

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

This past Tuesday provided a lovely morning for which to be out and about as it was foggy and a bit cooler (the last two mornings have been much different).  Monday night’s forecast for the following morning called for the fog and so it seemed like a good idea to visit Morgan Run, which sits in a bit of a hollow and can be quite pleasant under such conditions.

BW photography of Morgan Run streaming through rocks on a foggy morning

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

It was as hoped.  The fog provided a smoothing of the background and a compression of the tonal range (highlights to shadows), which made for pleasing compositions.  It was indeed a nice time to be there and for a part of the visit, I just sat there taking it all in.

BW photograph of an abandoned and burned plastic bottle amid stream debris

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

What was not so pleasing or enjoyable was seeing the amount of trash scattered about.

BW photograph of an abandoned Mountain Dew bottle atop some tree roots.

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

On any given day, one can walk around almost anywhere and find the detritus that has been tossed, dropped, forgotten, or otherwise left behind.  Plastic lasts the better part of forever when in the environment and leaches chemicals into the ground and water as it degrades.  It is a dirty material to make, use, and also, unfortunately, recycle.  All-in-all, it is best to minimize its use.

With regard to the overall aesthetic, it is truly unpleasant to be in such a pretty place and find empty bottles laying about.  There is an old backpacking adage that goes “Pack it in, pack it out.”  That is a motto worth heeding.

Take care.

Scale

July 22, 2015

BW photograph of clouds over the Chesapeake City Canal

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

The previous post was about lines and curves-this is about scale.  There really is a bigger picture out there, literally and figuratively.  With all that is going on in the world right now, sometimes it is helpful to keep that in mind.

Take care.

 

Lines and Curves

July 22, 2015

BW photograph of two houses and one car with the Chesapeake City Bridge in the background

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

Much has been written about the role lines and curves play in photographic composition-so much so that this post will not contain any of the technical aspects of such.  The repetitive vertical lines and the contrasting arc of the curves, though, were exactly what was on my mind when making this particular image.  Had the car been a Volkswagen Beetle, it would have had perfect symmetry with the Chesapeake City bridge in the background.

Take good care.

Srebrenica

July 12, 2015

There are no photographs to go with this post as I have not been to Bosnia.

This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica.  That atrocity finally brought NATO, and the United States, into the Balkan war.

This report is a brief history of what happened there and a current discussion of what the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are doing to try to move past the ethnic divide that resulted from the politics and combat of the time.  It is worth a listen as it is a reminder of both the destructive power and the hope that comes from cultural diversity.

The direction that issue takes really does depend on individual behaviour.

James Nachtwey was in Bosnia and so many other conflict zones-this TED Talk presents his views on the importance of photography and the documentation of such events.  (Bosnia is discussed around the 6 minute mark.)  As a photographer, and a human being,  I admire his work and his mission.

NOTE:  The video contains a warning regarding the images that accompany Mr. Nachtwey’s talk.  You can not tell such stories without the photographic evidence, but do heed the warning if need be.

Take care.

Symbolism

July 8, 2015

The Confederate Stars and Bars battle flag with "I Aint Coming Down" added

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

Flags are one of the clearest examples of symbolism in any culture.

Last month, nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina were killed by the alleged (he has not as yet been convicted) gunman, whose web site featured images of himself posing with the Confederate flag-this further exacerbated the issue of that flag as a symbol of hatred and white supremacy given its connection to the culture of slavery in the United States.  Slavery was a most significant reason for the secession of the Southern states, which culminated in the fighting of the Civil War from 1861-1865.  Coincidentally, or maybe not, South Carolina was the first state to leave the Union in 1860.

Sign advertising sale of Confederate memorabilia

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

In the wake of the recent South Carolina killings, Wal-Mart, among others, announced that they would no longer sell products carrying an image of the Confederate flag.

Confederate battle flag

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

One focus of the issue has now shifted to the South Carolina legislature as the Confederate flag continues to fly at the State House.  The South Carolina Senate voted to take it down and the House is continuing the debate-over 20 amendments have been attached to the bill, some of which propose the replacement of the ‘Stars and Bars’ with another version of the Confederate flag.  Time will tell.

T shirt with Confederate battle flag and the words "I'm Offeneded That You're Offended"

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

The photographs in this post were made in Gettysburg, PA. a few days after the 2015 anniversary of that cataclysmic battle fought during the Civil War.  The sentiments expressed on the flag, t-shirts, and advertisement leave little to the imagination in terms of intent.

T shirt with Confederate battle flag and the words "If This Flag Offends You You Need A History Lesson!"

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

It is actually very important to study the entire history so as to be able to come to an informed decision regarding one’s views of an issue.  I would strongly invite you to either give a listen or read the transcript of this episode of The Diane Rehm show from NPR, which presents a history of the Confederate flag and the symbolism it imparts.  Around the 10 minute mark, Bill, a caller from Texas, makes a point about Germany and the swastika.  The swastika was used long before it became associated with Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party, as described here.  Bill, and the show’s panel, present a cogent argument about recognizing history without continuing the use of such inflammatory symbols.  Other viewpoints about the Confederate flag are also presented during the show’s discussion.

This article from The Washington Post provides further details with regard to the manner by which Germany has dealt with the swastika and also links that symbol to the debate about the Confederate flag.  It is important to note that the swastika continues to be used as a symbol by neo-Nazi and white supremacy groups.

As this post deals with symbolism, another long-standing issue is the name of the Washington, D.C. football team, which provokes similar controversy.  This is a report about the most recent Federal ruling.

As an aside, I link to so many NPR reports for content because the programs on NPR present some of the most balanced commentary on current issues available.  Going further, the conversations/interviews/reports are completed in a most civilized manner-no one is shouting or over-talking others.  This allows for reasoned presentations of the multiple points-of-view that exist with complex issues.

Take care.

UPDATE:  The Confederate flag has been lowered from the South Carolina Statehouse, as reported here.

July 5th

July 6, 2015

BW photograph of a line of trashcans and trash lying in the street

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

As is my tradition, I go into the city on the morning of July 5th to photograph what has been left behind from the Fourth’s festivities.  The result is my yearly rant about our culture and its relationship to trash.

BW photograph of two food containers left behind after July 4th

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

As is usually the case, food containers were a frequent sight…

BW photograph of a trashcan overflowing with trash after July 4th

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

BW photograph of a trashcan overflowing onto the ground after July 4th

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

as were trash cans overflowing with recyclable materials.  Whenever this much trash is left behind, inevitably some of it ends up on the ground…

BW photograph of wood, plastic and paper trash floating in the water after July 4th

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

BW photograph of a Cheetos bag floating in the water amid other debris

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

or is blown into the water.

BW photograph of a bag in trash advertising 'recyclable'

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

Interestingly, even some of the trash respectfully requests different treatment than what it is given here.

BW photograph of a broken drinking glass at the base of a light pole

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

Something surely is broken.  Perhaps it is simply an issue of economics.  If monies were available and appropriated for the purpose, then there would be more recycling bins available to the general public, which would help stem this concentration of trash.  As these photographs indicate, many people, but certainly not all, are putting their trash in the designated cans-there is just too much trash being generated.  It is also important to note that these are regular trash cans and not recycling bins, which are available in other parts of the city.

BW photograph of a cup advertising "Live the VIP Life"

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

Instead of economics, popular culture and the process of socialization may be at work here.  Indeed, “LIVE THE VIP LIFE” (in all caps no less) is a pretty strong message as it is an encouragement to elevate oneself above others-that is, the norms of social conduct need not necessarily apply to a particular individual’s behaviour as being a “Very Important Person” conveys a degree of specialness not enjoyed by all.  Some may take that message literally as a license to do whatever regardless of what is left behind for someone else to clean up.

Take care.

July 4th

July 4, 2015

Still life of a pair of pants, a pair of shoes, and a duffel on a hotel room chair

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

Today is the Fourth of July and it is the day when Americans celebrate their independence from Great Britain.  This remarkable act of collective individuation was put to paper with the writing of the Declaration of Independence, which was formally presented on July 4th, 1776.  Yesterday, the Diane Rehm show re-broadcast this interview with Dr. Danielle Allen, which includes a reading of the document and a discussion of significant details regarding its history and current interpretations.  It is well worth a listen.

For many, this holiday is a time to travel.  AAA predicted that more than 41 million Americans would take a trip this weekend.  According to this article, a stronger economy and lower gasoline prices are fuelling this increase. (The pun is intended.  Yes, it is also pretty lame.)

Safe travels to all who are out-and-about.

Take care.