Ellicott City et al

May 29, 2018

BW photograph of flood debris along Big Hunting Creek.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Pursuant to the last post regarding the power of water, Ellicott City, MD experienced what will most likely be labeled its second “1 in a 1,000 year” floods within the past two years on Sunday.  The discussion of re-building and how to mitigate this pattern has begun anew.  The storm standards and the manner by which to meet them is reminiscent of the debates that have continued since the devastation of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  For those in Ellicott City, one can only imagine the difficulty of sorting the emotional and economic impact of facing these decisions after such a relatively short period of time.

On a related note, NOAA has forecast a “…near-or above-normal 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.”  Importantly,  the first named storm of the 2018 season, Alberto, has already hit the Southeast portion of the U.S.

Both of these events (Ellicott City and Alberto) have cost lives and have created enormous damage in their respective areas of impact.

Shutter speed tricks cannot smooth that away.

Take care.

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Weather Whiplash

May 24, 2018

BW photograph of a tree's shadow cast over a dry portion of Morgan Run rock field.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

During the month of May 2018, we have had heat (several days of record-setting temperatures) followed by cold-or what certainly felt cold after those highs.  The comment about “felt” is a key clarification, as everything is relative.  The “just noticeable difference”, or Weber’s Law, is the amount of change required to be remarkable a certain percentage of the time.  While I am not sure the exact temperature gradient for the just noticeable difference, going from 90 degrees to the 60s or 70s was certainly noticeable.

BW photograph of Morgan Run after days of heavy rains.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Over the past week or so there has been much rain, which resulted in localized flooding.  The dry stone patch photographed in the lead image above is to the lower right corner in the above photo of Morgan Run and covered by water.

BW photograph of Big Hunting Creek after several days of heavy rains.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The above photograph is Big Hunting Creek, which is in Thurmont, Maryland.

This recent article from The Baltimore Sun summarizes the recent amounts of rain for various regions in Maryland.

BW photograph of water run-off after torrential rains.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Frederick, MD was hit especially hard.

The manner by which to creating the smooth, almost dreamy effect of the water will be explained below.  Importantly, though, while this can be beautiful for imagery, it very much masks the enormous power of so much water falling for such an extended period of time.

BW photograph of a section of tree trunk laying along an embankment after a flood.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

That was quite a chunk of tree deposited along the bank of Morgan Run.

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

 

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Trees in rocky soil or those along river banks often have shallow root systems.  Given the saturation of the ground and the extraordinary height and weight that mature trees possess, once they start to list, gravity will then finish the job.  Should they fall into the water, the current will carry the trees downriver until blocked.  The above photographs were made in Thurmont, MD. and are multiple images of the same tree.

BW photograph of a sycamore root system after it has fallen against an overpass.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This sycamore was in Detour, MD.  Detour sits in a hollow along the Monocacy River-in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes went through the area, the town of Detour was itself inundated by the floodwaters of the Monocacy leaving its banks.

BW photograph of a fallen sycamore tree against an overpass.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

While it was not evident that this occurred at this time, it was still hazardous to be out and about.

As an aside, while this post was being drafted, it was again raining hard.

Today, as the blog is being posted, it is sunny and in the 80s again.

Weather Whiplash.

Take care.

Photographic Note:  It takes a slow shutter speed to create the smoothed-out texture of the water shown here.  Having a voluminous amount of water that is running quite fast is a good start.  To that, add a smallish aperture (f/8 in these cases), both a polarizer (to remove glare) and a neutral density filter (to cut more light), and as low an ISO (200 or 400 in these cases-the extra stop provided by the higher ISO was sometimes desired to create a not-such-a-long shutter speed) as possible, and the shutter speed is easily reduced to about 30 seconds or so.

Need for Zen

May 8, 2018

BW photograph of flowing water.

Copyright 2018 Kevin p. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There are some days that require a larger dose of Zen than others.

BW photograph of a branch over flowing water.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today is one of those days.

BW photograph of flowing water.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Being an informed citizen brings with it the risk of riding the roller coaster of daily news.  Much like the “weather whiplash” moniker from the last post, that phrase would appear to be applicable for many other subjects as well.  Simply replace “weather” with whatever stories dominate a given day.  Chances are, within a few days, there will be something else that comes to the fore and demands one’s attention.

There are at least two dangers with such a rapid cycle of news.  The first is the criticality of the displaced issues being lost-out of sight, out of mind.  The second is the numbness that accompanies an overload of one’s senses.

As such, it is evermore important to maintain an individuated sense of balance and perspective.  This includes recognizing the options available for legitimate action.

Tuning out is not a productive long-term option.

Take care.

BW photograph looking down a street of row homes the morning after a rain.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

During the weekend before the one just past, a cold front blew in triggering the first (very brief) thunderstorm of the season.  The next morning, it was 42 degrees with a stiff wind.  Many clouds remained, which created a nice ceiling for the strong early morning directional light.

BW photograph looking down onto Chimney Rock.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A bit later that same week, the temperature hit the low 90-degree mark in the Baltimore/Washington area for a couple of days, which set temperature records.  It felt literally and figuratively like we had bypassed Spring and moved right into Summer.  Two related articles (here and here) address this kind of volatility that may well become the norm going forward.  The term “weather whiplash” seems appropriately descriptive.

Interestingly, both of these photographs here were made by relying on a low-angled sun early in the morning to create the strong highlights and deep shadows.  The only noticeable difference between the two days was the ambient temperature, which the photographs do not convey:  it was much, much warmer when the second photo was made.

Take care.

 

Straws, man

May 2, 2018

BW photograph of a plastic cup and straw laying on a street.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This segment of NPR’s Here and Now is a worthwhile listen due to the scope of the problem and the available alternatives.  A reduction in this form of pollution is well worth the loss of this particular subject matter.

BW photograph of a Sprite bottle laying in the grass.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Unfortunately, there are many other forms of plastic trash of which to make images.

BW photograph of a plastic spoon laying on a brick sidewalk.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As such, addressing the overall issue of our throw away culture of convenience is of paramount importance-the discarded plastic straws, bottles, and utensils are just symptomatic of that larger issue.  The result of such a mindset is the bioaccumulation of plastic and other toxins in the environ.  Fortunately, the alternatives mentioned in the Here and Now report apply to other forms of trash as well.   It is useful to remember that the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a hierarchy-a reduction in the need for plastic disposable items by finding sustainable alternatives is by far the best option.

Take care.