The Human Element

September 29, 2018

BW photograph of an overpass wall and rail.

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

Most of the time, I work hard to exclude humans from my photographs.  The photograph above is a basic “here to there” shot that works quite well in BW.  The early morning sun produces a hard, directional light that is illuminating the concrete.  This, in turn, provides contrast to the darker rail, sky, and trees.  The image also softens a bit from left to right, which suggests some distance.

BW photograph of a car's shadow on an overpass wall.

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

However, it is, on occasion, necessary to introduce the human element in order to make a stronger composition.  In this case, the car’s shadow adds a more precise subject to the image.  (As an aside, this was a single image captured with proper timing-not continuous exposure-or the “spray and pray” method.  I had set the composition, pre-determined the exposure, pre-focused, and then awaited the car.)

BW photograph of a used insole laying in a flower bed.

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

What is essential, though, to the majority of my work is to demonstrate the human presence and impact on our world.  The photograph above is a shoe’s well-used insole that was laying in a flower bed.  (The white rectangle just below the heel is a cigarette butt.) Its mate was nowhere to be seen.  How it arrived there is a mystery, but someone must have left it.  The very nature of the insole’s shape provides a metaphor for a footprint left on the environ.

BW photograph of a shredded plastic cup laying in grassy weeds.

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

BW photograph of a Styrofoam cup and plastic lid and straw on some steps.

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

BW photograph of a crushed plastic water bottle laying in the street.

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

This is also the reason for trash and waste dominating my imagery.  Photographer James Balog explains in Chasing Ice that documenting the disappearance of glaciers and ice sheets was his means of calling attention to climate change.  For me, the detritus left behind, especially when it is plastic and/or Styrofoam, demonstrates the casual, if not deliberate, disregard many have for the environ.  These materials are made, used (mostly) once, then discarded by people and will out-last generations.  That is the human element.

Take care.

 

 

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Flights

September 25, 2018

BW photograph of beach grasses.

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

No, this not about airline travel.

The iPhone will track daily health statistics:  “Walking and Running distance”, “Steps”, and “Flights Climbed”.  The latter is the one of interest here.  The iPhone uses a barometer to measure changes in air pressure, which is also a means of reading elevation gain/loss.

BW photograph of beach grasses with some wooded area in the background.

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

Walking is one of my primary means of exercise these days.  As an aside, isn’t it interesting that we use the word “hike” when talking about locomotion in the mountains or on trails, whereas we go for a “walk” around town.  Is it not the same form movement from one point to another?

BW photograph of an inlet off Route 1 in Delaware.

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

One major difference, though, is the elevation gain/loss involved.  For example, the other day I hiked a bit over nine miles in the mountains-the undulating terrain registered as 90 floors (“Flights Climbed”) in the iPhone.  At Bethany Beach, where you can practically see one end of the walk from the other because it is so flat, the distance was a bit over twelve miles with a measure of 0 floors.  It is that flat on Delaware’s coast.

BW photograph of the pre sun rising over the ocean with a dune fence in the foreground.

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

On a related note, another major difference between the mountains and the shore is the olfactory stimulation they produce.  Photography obviously stimulates the visual sense-video can add audio to the mix.  However, one must rely on imagination and/or memory to have the sense of smell triggered by those media.  Were it to be possible to include the aroma of the mountains, it would be that of an earthy, acrid, decaying scent.  It has been quite wet of late and that moisture has been interacting with the downed foliage to produce this pleasant mustiness to the ground.  The ocean breeze brings a much more briny smell to the air-it much different, but equally pleasant.

Take care.

Flora and Fauna

September 18, 2018

BW photograph of the Hog Rock Trail heading toward Cunningham Falls on a foggy morning.

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

One of the other real advantages to being up and out before the sunrise is that you get to experience the waking up of the world around you.  Yes, in some situations this means more people, and more cars, and more mechanical noise.  Out in the woods, though, this changes.  For example, the various species of birds begin to sing their songs.  The aroma of the air and the texture of the ground underfoot change.  Various plants open and/or reorient themselves.  It is quite a sensory experience.

BW photograph of the split end of a tree limb laying on the ground.

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

Speaking of such, I am currently reading A Year in the Maine Woods by Dr. Bernd Heinrich.  The author is able to provide ample details as to which species makes which sounds and when or which tree is in which stage of development.  He is quite learned and has put extraordinary effort into being so.  Early in my photographic career, I spent quite a bit of time attempting to develop such knowledge.  Arguably, as per photographer John Shaw, being a well-informed naturalist would be as asset in the pursuit of photography.  This is most certainly true for one making specific photographs of particular species-you can learn when to be where for the desired image.  On the other hand, I have gotten to a point where I do not need to know which species are making what sounds as I am not interested in that degree of selectivity in my photography.  I prefer a greater degree of serendipity to my process-I wander and photograph what catches my eye.  However, I absolutely need to know that the species are.

This latter point is quite important, because we are in an age, the Anthropocene, which may very well mean they aren’t.

Please be sure to read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural HistoryThis is Ms. Kolbert’s The New Yorker article addressing the same topic.

Take care.

45 Miles

September 16, 2018

BW photograph of a foggy sunrise looking out from Hog Rock.

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

Driving forty-five miles in one direction gets me to work.  (The photograph above is definitely not about work…)

BW photograph of the sunrise looking out from the Thurmont Vista.

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

Driving forty-five miles in the opposite direction gets me to the mountains.  Both are important…both are necessary.

In the years, decades really, that I have driven these routes, today is the first time noticing the symmetry.

BW photograph of the Hog Rock Trail steps on a foggy morning.

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

Once thinking about this, there are other similarities as well:  Leaving for work early in the morning is necessary to avoid traffic-leaving for the mountains early in the morn is necessary to await the sunrise.  Leaving early for both also reduces the number of people encountered along the way.  Finally, doing so is a means of achieving/maintaining a degree of serenity.

That brings some balance to the ‘verse.

Take care.

Rain (Continued)

September 13, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run after Gordon's floods but before the arrival of Florence.

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

The title is both literal and figurative.

Rain has been the main subject over the past few posts.  Even though “Rocks” documents a hike that took place on an 80+ degree humid morning, the main emphasis was the impact of the rain in this region.  Over the past few days, the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon has dumped a copious amount of rain.  The above photograph is of Morgan Run from this past Tuesday morning, and depicts a vastly lower water level than existed this past Sunday morning-it was still raining hard then.  Mostly cloudy and misty conditions have prevailed since, with smaller periods of heavy rain.

Given that the water level had fallen, what was left to document was the result of the flooding.

BW photograph of the erosion debris onthe walkway at Morgan Run after a recent deluge.

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

This is the debris that had either been washed down the walkway from the parking lot or had been deposited by the current during the most recent flooding at Morgan Run.  For a bit of perspective, the fishing platform in the background was under water on Sunday.

BW photograph of a leaning Sycamore tree's roots that have been exposed due to flooding.

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

BW photograph of a row of Sycamore roots exposed by flood waters.

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

The photographs above show the exposed roots of several large Sycamore trees.

BW photograph of a pine tree's roots exposed by flooding at Morgan Run.

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

These belong to a pine tree nearby.

The high water mark from the weekend was well above the location of these trees-in other words, they were partially under water over the weekend.  Morgan Run has over-topped its banks several times this year, which has resulted in the soil being washed away.  It goes without saying that this is a cumulative effect-Morgan Run has flooded many times in the years that I have been visiting the area.

BW photograph of broken logs wedged against Sycamore roots after a flood.

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

When the water does rise, Morgan Run can flow at a pretty good clip, so the degree of erosion is not surprising.  Logs banging into the tree trunks are an additional stress.

BW photograph of rocks amid some exposed roots after a flood.

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

In many areas, the soil has been replaced by loose rocks and stones.  As such, there is a lesser amount of firm ground to hold the trees in place.

BW photograph of a maple leaf in mud marked by the water's current.

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

The Mid-Atlantic has been inundated by rain and the ground is saturated.  Hurricane Florence is now forecast to make landfall late Friday into early Saturday.  This area is on the outer reach of the current trajectory (the Carolinas), but she will certainly drop more rain here as the storm progresses.  In fact, while Florence has lost some wind speed, the main concern is the historic amount of rain and subsequent flooding that is expected.  Indeed, the adjective “biblical” has been used to characterize that aspect of the storm.  Florence is expected to stall over the Carolinas in much the same manner as Hurricane Harvey did over Houston just over a year ago.  Harvey’s rainfall set a record-will Florence top that?  It does bear repeating that we continue to see the escalating impact of climate change on the formation and impact of such storms.

Meanwhile, Olivia is battering Hawaii and out in the Atlantic, Isaac, Helene, and Joyce are spinning.

Across the Atlantic, parts of Europe are experiencing the opposite effects of climate change.

Climate change is clearly a global issue that manifest itself in a variety of ways-most of which are extremely detrimental to flora, fauna, and the built environ.  It really is a problem that many in power and those who vote for such perspectives fail to recognize this.

Take care.

Rocks

September 8, 2018

BW photograph looking down a hiking trail through the woods.

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

This past week’s 100 degree plus heat-index adjusted temperatures notwithstanding, it has been quite wet this year.  That accounts for the amount of greenery in the vegetation.  It is raining now, and the forecast calls for rain off and on over the coming week.

BW photograph of the loose rocks on a hiking trail looking up the trail.

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

Due to the amount of precipitation, some portions of some of the hiking trails in the local mountains have become a bit dicey due to the amount of loose rock that has accumulated on the downhill slopes-of course, they become the uphill inclines on the return.

BS photograph of loose rocks on a hiking trail looking straight down.

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

As such, this scree can make for unstable footing.  The flatter pieces will slide underfoot, while those of the rounder variety will roll as if they were ball bearings.  Adding moisture makes it all rather more slick.  One must be careful to not twist an ankle or end up on one’s backside.  With regard to the latter, my grandmother would have referred to this as “falling ass over tea kettle”.  How that expression came about, I do not know.  I absolutely understand the meaning, though.

These conditions also give a bit of a different meaning to the term “rock and roll”.

Wearing appropriate footwear and using hiking poles (a tripod makes a nice substitute) certainly helps to keep one upright.

Take care.

 

Building

September 4, 2018

BW photograph of pre-thunderstorm cumulous clouds.

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

It is interesting to watch the changes in clouds as a storm builds…

BW photograph of clouds during a thunderstorm with trees in the foreground.

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

delivers…

BW photograph of post-thunderstorm clouds over a meadow, treeline, and house.

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

and dissipates.

This was a very minor storm without much rumbling or rain.  In fact, it felt quite nice to stand outside and feel the precipitation.  Such is not the case with Typhoon Jebi, which hit Japan today.  Tropical Storm Gordon smacked parts of Florida and is now forecast to morph into a hurricane before hitting the U.S. Gulf Coast later today.  Meanwhile, Hurricane Florence is spinning out in the Atlantic-time will tell if that storm becomes a threat.

This article from earlier in the summer provides a useful explanation about the factors used to forecast the number of storms in a given hurricane season-please note that this is for the Atlantic basin, so storms like Typhoon Jebi would not be included.  This is a complex discipline that requires the analysis of multiple data points.  Having presented that information, the author, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, concludes with perhaps the most important point.

Take care.

9/6/18 UPDATE:  This is the latest regarding Hurricane Florence.