Signs of Spring

February 28, 2017

Colour photograph of the Thurmont Vista Trail.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Tomorrow is March 1, and the forecast is for temps well into the 70s.  For the record, the first day of Spring 2017 is March 20th.

The photograph above is the colour version of the second image in the last post.  While BW photography captures the majority of my interest these days, and perhaps always did, certain subjects/scenes really do look better in colour.  Such is the case here.  The various reds and greens provide greater character to the scene than does the various shades of grey in the other photograph.  It also seems much more Spring-like due to the colour.

This highlights the difference, photographically, between hue and tone.  Hue, in this context, refers to colour.  For this image, the main issue are the reds and greens.  Tone, on the other hand, is how much light is absorbed or reflected.  In this case, the reds and greens are both pretty much the same-about medium in nature.  As a result, there is not much separation between the two hues in the previous photograph.  One way to address that when using BW capture is to use filters.  A red filter will lighten reds and darken greens.  A green filter will do the opposite.  I used a green filter for the BW version.

One of the real advantages of digital cameras is the ability to switch to different types of capture-either colour, or BW, or both while using the same camera.  Many cameras also offer film emulations of the media from the (mostly) bygone days.  (As an aside, film does seem to be enjoying a bit of a comeback.)  The BW photographs for the posts thus far in 2017 have been made using Fuji’s Acros emulation-the colour photograph above is Fuji’s Velvia emulation.  Back in the film days, Velvia was my primary choice for most subjects and scenes-the saturation in the hue was quite pleasing.

Choice is good.  Flexibility is an artistic asset.  Give it some thought and experiment.

Oh, and weather permitting, get outside.

Take care.

Cold Front

February 26, 2017

BW photograph of dark clouds over Hog Rock.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Yesterday signaled the end of the streak of 70+ degree temperatures for February 2017, that is assuming the forecast for the next couple of days is accurate-it was just below freezing this morning.  A in-coming cold front triggered an intricate dance between the clouds and sun with an assist from the wind.  Later in the afternoon a pretty decent thunderstorm rumbled and was accompanied by strong, gusty winds, hard rain, and some small hail.

BW photograph of the Thurmont Vista Trail.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Prior to that, it was a wonderful day to be out in the woods.  The air was crisp and the temperature was such that it neither hurt to breathe nor required much sweat to stay cool.

Take care.


February 24, 2017

BW photograph of Morgan Rin looking upriver into the sunrise.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency last week-an agency he sued numerous times during his tenure.  This and this are examples of the close ties he has with fossil fuel industries.

The first line of the EPA’s mission statement is as follows:

“The mission of the EPA is to protect (italics added) human health and the environment”.

It goes on to say that their “…efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific (again, the italics were added)  information…”

Given Mr. Pruitt’s views and behaviour, not to mention the president’s, with regard to climate change, it would appear difficult to reconcile the inherent contradiction in this appointment/confirmation.  This is, however, not an unusual situation:  Rick Perry once announced that he would abolish the Department of Energy-and had forgotten its name, and he is now in the process for confirmation as the head of the DOE-the linked article reports several points of reversal and contradictions of earlier position statements.  One clear way to change an organization is to gain power and work from the inside.

BW photograph of the prow of a rock with trees to the left.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The March for Science, which is scheduled for April 22, has become controversial given the political climate surrounding science in general.   I was originally excited about The March for Science as it is disconcerting the manner by which the regard for the scientific method has been degraded.  (As an aside, National Geographic’s March 2015 cover story is entitled “The War on Science”-the current status of the EPA appears to be a natural extension of several points made in that article.)   However, after having read Dr. Robert Young’s op-ed, I have come to agree with his position and recommendations.

Take care.

73 Degrees

February 23, 2017

BW photograph of a lost scarf on a sidewalk.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Just another 70+ degree day in February.

Take care.

Atmospheric Rivers

February 21, 2017

BW photograph of a portion of Big Hunting Creek.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The state of California has recently been battered by storm systems referred to as “atmospheric rivers.”  This report  describes the one that hit the Los Angeles area this past Friday.  The raging rain and snowfall measured in feet delivered by these storms have combined with the longer-term effects of historic fire seasons and a five-year drought to produce flooding, mudslides, and sinkholes.  While the precipitation has replaced the snow pack and helped restore the reservoirs, this type of extreme inundation is both disruptive and deadly.  And then the cost of repairs/rebuilding of infrastructure would need to be considered.

The above photograph is of Big Hunting Creek, which is the water source that produces Cunningham Falls in Catoctin Mountain Park.  This is over 3,000 miles east of California.  This also demonstrates the power of photography to create an illusion.  Yes, the water does appear to be running at a good clip-that is courtesy of a slow shutter speed.  This is also a very tight composition, so not much of the creek is visible.

BW photograph of the Patapsco River at a low water level on February 21, 2017.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This photograph is a wide view of the Patapsco River-quite a difference in terms of the apparent water level, eh?  This photograph is much more representative of water levels here, which are the result of a relatively low-level of precipitation this winter thus far.

BW photograph of a fallen tree laying upon a large rock.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Which is not to say that there is a lack of evidence of previous flooding.

Take care.


5 a.m.

February 19, 2017

BW photograph of trees and clouds in the early morn.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is one reason to awaken at 5 a.m.  By arising early, there is time to make the drive and be in position for when something nice happens.  By 9 a.m., the parking lots were full and the sky had mostly cleared.

It was also 52 degrees at that time of the morn.

Take care.

74 Degrees

February 18, 2017

BW photograph of a shopping center's parking lot.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today, February 18, 2017, it was 74 degrees in Frederick, Maryland.

BW photograph of the back side of a store front's wall.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

While walking around the downtown area in the early afternoon, one gentleman was overheard saying to his companions “Sure, it’s global warming, but it’s nice.”

And it was.

The issue, though, is that we are dealing with climate change.  In a previous post, I referenced Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation by Alan Burdick, which really is an excellent read.  One of the chapters, “The Days,” describes the impact of climate change on the circadian rhythms of some migrating species and their sources of food.  Historically, their biological clocks were synchronized-as the planet warms, they are becoming less so.  Some species’ biological clocks are driven by time, others by temperature.  As such, this creates a problem for those migrating species with biological clocks that are time-based whose food sources may have hatched much earlier than usual due to a circadian rhythm reacting to warmer temperatures.  As Mr. Burdick points out, those species that are able to adapt to these changing patterns will survive and those that don’t, won’t. (pg. 64)

So, while it was undeniably an excellent day for a walk around town, there are much larger implications involved.  It is easy to adapt to the warmth of a day like today by putting on a lighter jacket or by wearing none at all.  Assuming the temperatures drop over the next week as is forecast, one can adjust by selecting a heavier jacket or adding a sweater.  No big deal.  For some species, though, the evolutionary process of adaptation may, in fact, take too long.

Take care.


February 18, 2017

BW photograph of cars in line awaiting a take-out order.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Looking out from the inside of a coffee shop that has a drive-through window.  How much gasoline do you think was used as the occupants were awaiting fuel of a different sort?

While not specifically dealing with being stuck in that type of line, this 2016 article references 2015 data regarding the cost of being stuck in traffic as measured by time, dollars, and gasoline.

Take care.


February 14, 2017

BW photograph of a rusted hasp and padlock on worn doors.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Everything gets old…

BW photograph of a tree in front of a building with a broken window and vines creeping up one side.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

it just has to be around long enough.

BW photograph of a section of tree trunk against some rocks with a large crack.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What was once upright, strong, and sturdy…

BW photograph of a decomposing tree laying among some leaves.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Eventually returns to from whence it came.

Aging is, of course, one measure of time.  In a few weeks, it will be Daylight Savings Time for those parts of the world that engage in such.  It is fascinating that humans have created structures (think Big Ben in London) and social institutions (the work week), not to mention Valentine’s Day, by which to measure this ephemeral concept.  While most have been taught that humans have five senses (hearing, taste, touch, sight, and smell), this is now considered to be quite an elementary manner by which to categorize a more complex subject.

What about our sense of time?  This is an intriguing look at the subject and is highly recommended.

Take care.


February 12, 2017

BW photogaph of a vehicle moving across a parking lot on a rainly day as seen through a windshield.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The majority of the state of California has been suffering from severe drought conditions for much of the past five years-a subject that has been a recurring theme here.  This winter has been much different as per this article.  So much snow and rain has fallen that parts of the state are no longer considered to be under such a status.  Please, though, do read through the entirety of that second article.

Alleviating drought and the concomitant problems is a good thing, as is learning ways to conserve water.  It is also important to recognize, however, that a return to wasting water only sets the stage for future problems.  California and its relationship with water is an example of a larger issue-that being how we respond to deprivation and availability of resources.

Another example of the response to deprivation/availability comes from the auto industry.  In 1973-74, OPEC instituted an oil embargo against the United States, which quite literally brought travel to a standstill.  In response, Americans began to seek and buy much smaller, more fuel-efficient imports from Datsun (now Nissan) and Toyota.  As such, the U.S. auto industry had a rough time adjusting to a new reality and suffered economically.  Fast forward to now as the price of oil has plummeted and gasoline prices are also down.  2016 was a record year for U.S. automakers-with trucks and SUVs largely being the vehicles purchased.  One of the reasons for the surge in buying was the availability of cheaper gasoline.  (As a group, trucks and SUVs get far less gas mileage than do more fuel-efficient smaller cars.)  The incentives discussed in the article also made a difference in the purchase of vehicles.  Tellingly, such incentives could produce a longer-term problem that can offset the shorter term gain.  When gasoline was rationed and expensive, we responded one way; once it was available and cheaper, we responded in quite a different way.

The current lower price of oil creates political and economic issues for the OPEC nations and Russia, as detailed in this report from November, 2016, thereby depriving those countries of revenue (not to mention power and control).  Their response?  Cut production.  Global oil markets and pricing is quite a complex issue, as discussed here.

However, the fundamental point I am taking a long time to make is this.  We need to be very careful what we do when it seems like a problem is no longer a problem-when deprivation turns to availability.  Short term thinking really can create longer term consequences.  Political movement is already afoot to undo the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives.  The fact that California’s reservoirs are in better shape in no way means that issues with water will not continue.  The planet continues to warm.

Take care.

UPDATE:  The amount of rain and snow that has fallen in California has also resulted in this.