NOLA in LaLa Land

April 30, 2017

BW photograph of the Little Jewell of New Orleans menu board.

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

Food is one of the grandest expressions of a given culture.  Understanding that as a backdrop, it goes without saying that one of the distinctive aspects of New Orleans is the type of food and the manner by which it is prepared in the Crescent City.  One example of that is the po’ boy sandwich…

BW photograph of a beignet at Little Jewell of New Orleans in Los Angeles.

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

another would be beignets.  Both are classics.

A bit north and way to the west of New Orleans is Los Angeles, CA-one of the more culturally-diverse cities in the U.S.  As with many other large cities, much of that diversity is exemplified  in the multitude of restaurants and types of food available.  Even with that, though, it was surprising to encounter The Little Jewel  of New Orleans, which provides a definitive New Orleans menu and vibe to LA’s Chinatown neighborhood.  The photographs above were made there and not in any number of eateries in New Orleans proper.  Definitely a treat.

Take care.

 

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Travel When Stationary

April 25, 2017

BW photograph of a plane in a terminal.

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

Over 10 hours this past weekend were spent in the air flying to and from the west coast, most of which was through turbulent air creating the need to remain seat-belted for passenger safety.  As such, there was not much time for movement-not that planes allow for much locomotion in any case.  Having said that, though, I was able to “visit” several global locations via the books brought for the trip-most principally was Afghanistan via Eric Newby’s A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, a title ripe with typical British understatement.  This was originally published in 1958, and I had given it a first read back in the 80s.

One of the real advantages of reading is the number of regions in the brain that are stimulated by engaging in that activity, as discussed here.  I do not tend to read much fiction, however, my imagination becomes just as ignited as I visualize the scenarios depicted in such works of non-fiction.  Having spent much time in mountains hiking, camping, and doing modest climbs, it is relatively easy to relate to the experiences Mr. Newby describes.  Moreover, I have read much about the geography and culture of this part of the world; the Soviet and American wars that have been and are currently being fought in the region; and have had the opportunity to talk with many who have soldiered there.  As a result, while re-reading Hindu Kush this time, I found myself wondering how the various peoples and villages Mr. Newby encountered have fared over the past 5+ decades.

Take care.

Cloudspotting

April 18, 2017

BW photograph of various trees against a clear sky.

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

A clear blue sky is a pleasant sight and a joy to experience…

BW photograph of sycamore trees against a clear sky.

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

…today was that kind of day.  Earlier this week, Sunday night into Monday, it rained and rained-at times it pounded; at others, it was just a drizzle.

BW photograph of a large white cloud after a rain.

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

The latter part of Monday afternoon, though, saw the sun open up and create an environ ripe for the development of certain cloud formations.

Different climatic conditions produce different types of clouds, and this process is described in The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History and Culture of Clouds.  When I was primarily a natural history photographer, one of the photogs I followed was John Shaw-I read all of his books and learned a great deal about the art and craft of nature photography.  One of Mr. Shaw’s main points has consistently been that knowing the biology of the subjects being photographed would lead one to be a better nature photographer.  Therefore, I collected and read many different field guides, and that perspective is what led me to The Cloudspotter’s Guide and other cloud-related resources.  Clouds occupy more than just an environmental niche and so the subtitle of The Cloudspotter’s Guide is certainly fitting-it is a highly recommended read.  There is also a functional side to this knowledge-learning to read clouds and paying attention to weather systems helps keep one prepared-that, too, is highly recommended, especially in the era of climate change.

I must admit now, though, that the technical details as to the science behind cloud formations is less interesting.  Part of the reason for this is because a fair amount of that knowledge remains and has been reinforced by attending to weather patterns over the years.  However, the larger issue is one of simple aesthetics-the beauty and majesty of clouds as they exist are captivating in their own right.  I like watching them. I like photographing them.

Get outside and look up.

Take care.

Heading West

April 11, 2017

BW photograph of the sunrise across a distant ridge as seen through a wooded area.

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

As the sun was rising this morning,  it cast a glow across the far mountainside.

BW photograph looking into a sunrise through some trees.

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

These images are from the Catoctin Mountains, an area that I have visited now for decades.  In fact, many, many high school classes were sacrificed so that I could spend more time hiking the trails that weave through the park.

BW photograph of a decaying log laying amid fallen leaves.

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

Now, I am making an effort to walk the trails I either have not done or have not done for years.

BW photograph of a discarded tea bottle laying on a the ground in the woods.

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

Even with being in such a tranquil place, it is impossible to escape the debris of other visitors.

BW photograph of a water bottle left on a downed log in the woods.

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

Given the amount of trash tossed aside, seeing the above is unfortunately expected.  What was a bit more surprising, though, was the sound of two low-register honks followed by a disembodied voice over a loudspeaker announcing “This is a drill.”  That warning was repeated several times and reverberated through the trees-remembering that Camp David was just up the road put that into perspective.

The trash and the noise did create its own momentary impact on the zen of the moment, and they served as reminders that it is difficult to completely remove oneself from the issues of the day.

Still, absent that, and by putting those intrusions into their proper place, it was otherwise as quiet and as still and as natural as could be hoped-an incredibly nice place to just be.

Take care.

Turbulence and Zen

April 9, 2017

BW photograph of blurry, turbulant water.

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

Much has changed in the past few months-and especially in the past few weeks.  Globally, the war in Syria and its escalation have been a focus.  The increasing one-upmanship involving North Korea gets its attention as well.  Nationally, the Senate eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations thereby nullifying the opposition party (whichever that may be at a given point in time).  Climate change efforts have been rolled back.  While the Affordable Care Act was left in place for the time being, there are renewed plans to re-visit that as well…the 10 Essential Health Benefits continue to be at the apex of the argument.  There are varying degrees of unpleasantness when contemplating the next steps in these, and other, developments.

Beyond being an active citizen and donating time, money, food, and clothing to the organizations of choice and contacting politicians to express one’s views, how does one cope?

One way is to remain blissfully ignorant and pay no attention to these types of issues.  While there is a bit of relief that can come from this, especially when feeling overwhelmed by the rapidity of the events, it is important to recognize that this approach leaves one vulnerable to being “shocked” when there is a major global or national event that mandates attention.  No, one must first be aware of what is happening before one can decide how to feel and respond.

BW photograph of small stones on a larger rock lit by contrasty light.

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

Finding solitude and quiet, forest bathing, if you will, is an excellent antidote to the turbulence described above.  The stones in the above photograph appear to have been placed as they are, however, that does not diminish the tranquility that comes from sitting and observing the interplay between the sun and clouds as they produce or remove the shadows cast by the stones themselves.

BW photograph of an oak leaf in a shallow puddle on a rock.

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

The stillness of a fallen leaf in a shallow puddle can produce the same effect.

BW photograph of a fallen tree in contrasty light.

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

It is also soothing to watch the sunrise as it spreads light across a mountainside.

BW photograph of a fallen tree in contrasty light.

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

It was a bit below freezing when the above two photographs were made-just enough to make exposed skin tingle, the throat to burn when breathing, and the nose to run.  Still, the warmth of the sun and deep quiet of the wood was at once stimulating and calming.  The only sounds were the occasional hammering of woodpeckers and the crunch of solitary footsteps.

Zen indeed-at least for the time out there.  The real key is maintaining that perspective when returning to the day-to-day.

Take care.

Photographic Note:  This hard, contrasty, light is the opposite of the soft light exemplified and discussed in a previous post.  Hard light is what produces the contrast between highlights and shadows and therefore illuminates the subject’s texture.

 

 

Change in Weather

April 6, 2017

Colour photograph of Redbud tree and rocks in the rain at Morgan Run.

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

The rain has returned and the temperature has dropped a bit.  Please note that this is not a complaint, especially given the weather to the south of this area.  The amount of severe weather that has occurred nationally and globally thus far this year is quite a concern, especially given the current rollback of climate change initiatives in the U.S.  The storms forecast for the Mid-Atlantic region today are from the same storm system as reported in the link, and could bring severe thunderstorms and hail locally.  It it pouring rain and the thunder is rumbling as this is being written…

From a photographic perspective,  rainy days provide the perfect opportunity for making images of flora.  The overcast sky mutes contrast, and the rain enriches the colour palette.  The use of a saturated film emulation, like Fuji’s Velvia as applied here, certainly adds to the effect.  That is also the reason for making this a colour photograph-even with the very nice BW Acros emulation, this particular scene would appear quite flat due to the predominance of mid-tones in the image.  Yes, sometimes colour is a better choice.  It is nice to have the flexibility.

Take care.

 

Looking West

April 5, 2017

BW photograph looking west over the valley from South Mountain.

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

Reading of The Nature Fix continues, and the usefulness of being in the outdoors, in the woods especially, becomes more clear as the book progresses.  In the second chapter, Ms. Williams gets into some of the science and theories that are used to understand and explain the value of forest bathing.  What was anecdotal becomes increasingly verifiable, although there are a number of variables to be further tested.

BW photograph of cirris clouds rising over South Mountain.

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

As there was a nice break from the rain this past Sunday, it was a good time to go to South Mountain and walk a (small) bit of the Appalachian Trail, which moves through Washington Monument State Park.  The photographs here are from atop the mountain looking west-the first near the monument itself; the second on the slope away from the crest.  The air was crisp, the sun was shining, and it was a pleasure to soak in the outdoors.

Take care.