Contrast

December 30, 2016

BW photograph of a tree's shadow against a brightly lit brick wall.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Black and white photography is often about contrast.  The fancy term for this chiaroscuro, which means “the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art” (Webster’s New American Dictionary).  Visually, the highlights are brightly illuminated and white or close-to-white whereas the shadows remain a deeper going-to-black or black.  Ideally, depending on the intent, a range of greys occupies the middle-tones.  Film noir makes great use of this type of lighting and is one the reasons for that genre being a favourite-The Maltese Falcon is an example.

This is the eve of New Year’s Eve and I really cannot think of anything profound to say, other than that 2016 certainly presented its challenges-a statement that is much more clichéd than insightful.  So, I will close the year’s posts with this:  when growing up I had a subscription to a magazine entitled Highlights for Children.  Inside, one of the pages contained a drawing that included a series of hidden objects to locate.  Find the squirrel in the above photograph.

Take care and have a safe and Happy New Year.

Happy Holidays

December 24, 2016

BW photograph of a wooden star leaning on an old trunk.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Here’s wishing a Happy Holiday Season for all who celebrate! I sincerely wish joy and goodwill to all.  This is a very meaningful and poignant Holiday Season for me on a deeply personal level.

At the same time, I would be remiss (and out of character) to not say to all of us who are not subject to the kinds of prejudice, discrimination, and dehumanization, and/or being systematically bombed, gassed, or killed by any other means (Syria and South Sudan are examples) as seen in this past year, that we would do well to increase the efforts to eliminate such behaviour in the years to come.  On the way home from a wonderful family gathering, NPR provided an update on Syria and South Sudan, both of which provided a very stark contrast to the care and warmth experienced in the previous hours.

On the other hand, during that same broadcast, NPR reported on the development of what appears to be the first successful vaccine against the Ebola virus.  The following is a quote from the end of the report:

“It’s been a pretty tremendous experience,” Gupta says. “There’s been a lot of international partners that have come together in a real unprecedented effort.”

In the far reaches of my musical memory, John Lennon is singing “Imagine”.

As a species, we really do have the capacity to do great things and successfully address the issues that make living so difficult for so many-the Ebola vaccine is an example.  We just need the vision and will to do so.  Yes, imagine.  To borrow from Louis Armstrong:  “What a wonderful world it would be.”

While the imagination creates the possibilities, it takes more than vision.  Will must be applied.  There is a scene from one of the original Star Wars movies wherein the great sage Yoda is attempting to train Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force.  A weary Luke says “I’ll try” to which Yoda offers a strong rebuke:  “No. Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.” (That clip can be found on YouTube.)

Take care, be safe, and enjoy.

 

Microcosm

December 18, 2016

BW photograph of an autumn leaf partially encased in ice crystals.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

These past few days have provided a microcosm of climate change.  On Thursday and Friday of last week the temperatures did not get out of the teens and a stiff wind blew.

BW photograph of a snow mound in a parking lot with bare trees in the background.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Friday night into Saturday, we had snow and ice.

Today, it is 58 degrees with rain.  The temperature is to steadily fall back into the 20s tonight.

It is true that “weather” is local and does tend to change from day-to-day, which this pattern clearly demonstrates.  “Climate change” is global and more enduring.  The reason this post is entitled “Microcosm” is that these last few days have provided an intimate look (and feel) as to what can be expected as the planet continues to experience a fever: some areas will be colder with more precipitation while others will be warmer with less precipitation.  Those combinations can, of course, change as well.

The issue of climate change continues to be a primary focus of these posts as it is quite simply if not the dominant issue, certainly one of the dominant issues facing humanity.  Given the breadth and depth of conflict around the world, it is important to recognize that as drought, fire, and flooding increase, the struggle for basic resources will also intensify.

Dr. William Ury’s fundamental point is quite profound:  we are the intervention.

Take care.

 

 

Uncertainty

December 14, 2016

BW photograph of a gap opening between the old and new sections of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans in 2008.

Copyright 2008 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Uncertainty.  Even the sound of the word brings about a sense of foreboding.

In 2013, a large iceberg calved from the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica.  As glaciologists continued to monitor the glacier, it became clear that a crack had formed much further inland-please read the linked article as it describes the dynamics at play between the warming of the oceans and the Antarctic ice.  These same issues are at work on the Greenland ice sheet as well.  The prediction at the end of the article could be used as the very definition of uncertainty on several different levels, including the impact on coastal cities.

Such developments increase the level of concern regarding the incoming administration’s climate change policy.  Earlier, a questionnaire was sent to staff at the Department of Energy seeking information about employee work on climate-related issues (click the “74-point questionnaire” link within the report to read the questions).  The president-elect has discussed the curtailing of NASA’s climate change research.  Finally, various news sources have reported on the selection process for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  It is important to recognize, as does this report from NPR, that the president-elect has selected several nominees for posts whose views run counter to the department for which they would be in charge.  Uncertainty certainly reigns here-it is not clear how many of these appointments will make it through Congressional hearings, although it is important to remember that both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans; and it is not clear how much/many of the incoming agenda/viewpoints espoused by these candidates will be accomplished.  Where the term does not apply is the clarity that comes from understanding that the next four years will be quite different from the previous administration as far as the overall environment is concerned.

And that is the point, especially with regard to climate issues.

In time, the uncertainty will be resolved.

The planet will be the final arbiter.

Take care.

NOTE:  The above photograph displays a gap between the old and new sections of the repaired Industrial Canal seawall in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans.  The photograph was made in 2008-the Industrial Canal was breached during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which resulted in catastrophic flooding for those living in the Lower 9th Ward.

Age

December 7, 2016

BW photograph of an abandoned mill.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The current year is rapidly drawing toward a close, and the new one will soon arrive.  Along the way, we have gotten older.  Wiser is a matter of perspective.

BW photograph of a Master lock on a rusted hasp.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Many issues will carry over from 2016 into 2017, and exactly what comes with the change in the calendar has yet to be revealed.  We have certainly laid the groundwork for a bit of a rough go, yet there is reason to be hopeful.

BW photograph of a water bottle laying atop dried autumn leaves.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

2016 was certainly one for the books in terms of global violence (although Steven Pinker would argue that there were much more violent periods in human history), the rancorous election season (although, again, there have been others that could be considered as nasty), and most certainly as one that will be the overall warmest on record (which also makes this conversation one to follow).

In relation to the above points, and one that provides that glimmer of hope, is the Army Corps of Engineers having recently denied the final permit for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  This decision highlights the value of committed protest.  Such diligence and efforts will most certainly be needed going forward as the incoming administration has vowed to review that decision, along with the previously denied Keystone XL pipeline.

Wood rots, steel rusts, leaves decay, but plastic lasts forever.

We need to do our part.

Take care.

December 1

December 1, 2016

BW photograph of oranges and gourds in a white bowl with strong sidelight.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

With great light and a pleasing subject, no words are necessary.

Take care.