Persistence

December 29, 2018

BW photograph of the moon through a stand of wind-blown trees.

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

The weather app indicated that it was 55 degrees at 5:00 a.m. so I dressed for that.  Once outside, the temperature in the truck registered 47 degrees-that is a bit of a difference.  Once in the mountains, the truck gauge indicated that it had warmed to 50 degrees.  OK, so not too bad given what I was wearing.  However, the wind had kicked up and was strong enough to blow snot sideways-that was an interesting experience.

BW photograph of water draining off of a trail following a heavy rain.

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

BW photograph of a muddy trail following a heavy rain.

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

It was also downright muddy and damp due to the recent rainfall.  The wind, the mud, and the moisture had me thinking seriously of bailing on this morning’s hike.  That little voice kept saying “It is OK, go get some coffee, warm up, and go home-no big deal.”  Except that more rain is in the forecast and this day was to be sunny.  “Just keep walking” said the other little voice.

BW photograph of the three large rock formations at Chimney Rock.

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

Fortunately, the second voice won out.  Had I listened to the first, I would have missed quite a nice sunrise.

The coffee was still welcome.

Take care.

More Rain

December 28, 2018

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

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

The mountains in the Pacific Northwest have had quite a bit of snowfall recently.  Meanwhile, here in the Mid-Atlantic, it has been another deluge of rain.  It started raining last evening…

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

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

and continued well into the day before a period of relative dryness appeared.

BW photograph of another flood of Morgan Run.

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

During that brief spell, a trip to check Morgan Run made sense.  The water level appeared to have exceeded its banks for the umpteenth (an imprecise term) time this year.

BW photograph of exposed roots from the recent flooding of Morgan Run.

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

BW photograph of a view from the road of a flooded Morgan Run.

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

It was clear that these photographs were made after the high water mark for this particular event had been reached.  However, it had begun to rain again as I was leaving.

In the spirit of gratitude, it was nice that the temperature was in the 50s, so this was not snow.  Even though this is the end of December, I am still not ready for that kind of snowfall.

On the other hand, this is the opposite of both the amount of rain and snow experienced in other parts of the country.  Indeed, it is imperative that one understand the complexity of the cultural, economic, environmental, political, and social aspects of weather (in the short-term) and climate change (in the much longer term).  With respect to the latter, one must also remember that as the planet warms overall, different geographic areas will experience differing effects:  some will indeed warm and dry out-others will become cooler and wetter.

And in related news, as per this report, the same socio-economic factors listed above come into play with the issue of “mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants…” the regulations on which are now under review by the EPA.  This is in keeping with efforts to revise the regulations on CO2 emissions, which are also summarized in the report.  It appears clear that longer-term thinking is not at work here.

Take care.

Footsteps

December 23, 2018

BW photograph of trees at the top of a rock formation.

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

12/21:  Once again temps were in the low 20s for a pre-dawn hike.  There was no wind and therefore the only sound came from one’s breathing and footsteps.  Those footsteps produced a variety of sensations and sounds depending on the nature of the ground underneath-all of which were the result of the recent rainfall.  There were large parts of the trail where the earth was fully frozen into a concrete-like hardness:  there was a decided clop with each step.  Other areas, those still covered with leaves or aerated by frost, produced a cushiony feel underfoot and a crunchy sound to the ear that was not unlike that of biting into a biscuit that has been dipped into hot tea (The Great British Baking Show is a clear influence here).  Finally, there was the muck in the flatter sections where much moisture remained.  Stepping into that produced the typical squishy/sucking combination of a muddy field.  This is actually quite a problem as stepping through that leads to more erosion.

BW photograph of leaves stuck behind rocks after a downpour.

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

Some of the angled sections evidenced a different effect from the copious amounts of recent rain.

BW photograph of leaves stuck behind rocks after a downpour.

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

A few of these areas have a half-pipe construction that acts as a sluiceway for the rushing water.  Tree debris is carried along until it becomes stuck and accumulates behind the larger rocks forming a series of small dam-like structures.  It is imagined that those larger rocks become more prominent as the soil around them is carried away.

We did hit the 60+ degree mark today, which was accompanied by a soft rain in the latter morning.  Together, that made it feel a bit like spring.  The evening, though, was characterized by intermittent downpours and cooler temperatures.  It was, after all, December-those warm temps could not remain for long…

BW photogrpah of blurred clouds on a very windy morning.

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

12/22:  This morning was quite a bit different from that of yesterday.  Even though the ambient temperature was almost twice as warm (41 degrees), it felt much colder as there was a consistent wind, and the air and ground was damp from the rain.  Once in the woods proper, stronger gusts would build in the distance and then roll through the canopy overhead.

BW photograph of a puddle along a trail after a downpour.

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

Muck was also more the norm for the trails:  when there wasn’t standing water, there was mud.  In a few locations, a fair amount of water was still sluicing down the inclines.

BW photograph of the sunrise on the solstice.

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

The rain of yesterday and last night, though, had moved on.

Colour photograph of the sunrise on the solstice.

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

That gave way to a most beautiful sunrise.

Take care.

 

 

Seasons

December 20, 2018

BW photograph of grasses flattened by floodwaters and then covered with frost.

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

California has long had what is referred to as “Fire Season”.  Unfortunately, that season is occupying more and more months of the year.

Locally, we appear to be developing the opposite problem-a “Flash Flood Season”.  Increasingly, rains are heavier and more frequent.  It seems that each time a weather system develops and is forecast, it is accompanied by a flash flood watch/warning.  Indeed, this morning on NPR, the Capital Weather Gang reported that the current storm on the way has resulted in the 25th time that designation has been applied this year.  The local waterways then reflect whether or not it comes to fruition.

As per the pattern, the last heavy rain caused a rise in water levels-this was then followed by a drop in the overnight temperature.  Together, this created the wonderfully graphic mix of flood-flattened grasses that were covered with early morning frost as seen above.

While such conditions provide pleasing opportunities for photographers, it is, of course, important to remember the destructive nature of such flooding.  This is a reminder of one such recent event.

Take care.

COP24

December 19, 2018

BW photograph of a boot print frozen in mud.

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

This past weekend in Katowice, Poland, representatives reached an agreement on the rules to actually implement the Paris Climate Accord, as per this article in The New York Times and this report from NPR.

The climate agreement is important, especially since CO2 emissions rose again in 2018.  As per that report, some of this is accounted for by changes in the economies of China and India.  However, the U.S. continues to play a significant role-the love affair with SUVs, for example, is mentioned.  It must also be understood that under the current administration, the U.S. remains a chief proponent for the continued use of fossil fuels, which create said emissions.  As an aside, that second linked article highlights the distinction and significance of word choice as a central point in the history of the U.N. climate negotiations.

Coincidentally, residents have also been allowed to return to Paradise, CA following the destruction brought about by the Camp Fire.  That fire was the largest (so far) in California’s history.  Here is the connection:  climate change leads to drought, which in turn leads to the drying out of trees and ground covers and thus increases the likelihood of such wildfires.  Subsequently, the carbon released into the atmosphere by these conflagrations is yet another driver of climate change due to its contribution to the melting of Arctic ice sheets, as reported hereDr. Jason Box studies this interaction.

BW photograph of a fallen oak leaf covered with frost.

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

Meanwhile, it was again in the 20s at sunrise and, given the recent rain, made for a quite frosty morning.  As the day progressed, the sun warmed the temperature into the 40s.  The forecast for the end of the week has temperatures in the 60s with a great deal more rain.  This represents quite a fluctuation-these days the weather seems to match the stock market for such volatility.

Take care.

Spark

December 14, 2018

BW photograph of trees silhouetted againt the rising sun.

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

When going to the mountains for a hike, I am often up-and-out of the house and on my way well before sunrise-this becomes more of a task when temperatures are below freezing and it is still fully dark.  However, the trade-off is the stillness and solitude that has been written about previously.  Still, it feels like a bit of a slog when first starting out and much effort is involved in getting the legs moving.  The morning when these photos were made was certainly no different in that regard.

BW photograph of trees silhouetted againt the rising sun.

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

However, what was different, or perhaps better stated as being more noticeable or remarkable, was how energized I became when setting up the camera for these photos.  The brain engaged to manage the process of composition and exposure-the intentionality of photography drives selective attention to make all else fade away.  (Photographer’s note:  the image directly above is the same general composition as the one leading off this post.  The only difference is a pan to the right to include the closer tree, which is why it appears to be more prominent.  This cue adds a bit more depth to the composition.)

BW photograph of trees in front of a vertical rock formation early in the morn.

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

Back in the day (and I am old enough to use that phrase…), there was a distinct thrill that occurred when watching the image appear in the developing tray when working in a chemical darkroom. (The chorus of the song “Anticipation” is playing in my head as I type this.)  That kick is the result of a bit of dopamine being released in the brain, which has been referred to as a “dopamine squirt”.  Working digitally changed that as one no longer has to wait to see the results-they appear almost instantaneously on the monitor of the camera.  The kick remains the same, though.  This is especially true given that I work (mostly) in B&W now, which presents an image quite different from what is seen with the naked eye.

BW photograph of an overlook into a valley between two trees.

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

After having worked in B&W (in both film and digital mediums) for so long now, I have the ability to pre-visualize the scene as greyscale and not colour.  Of course, one only has to snap a test photo to see the difference a B&W emulation makes when using a digital camera.  Still, there is that spark of creativity that comes from seeing a scene, mentally creating the B&W interpretation, and then doing the work to realize the image as conceived.  That aspect is what makes the process just as important as the final image.

Take care.

Frozen

December 10, 2018

BW photograph of some ground frost pillars.

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

Temperatures were in the low-to-mid 20s yesterday in the very early morning.  As such, the stones and leaves on the trail that previously would have made for some slippery walking under other conditions were frozen solid.

BW photograph of a pine tree atop a rock outcropping.

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

The cold, crisp air created a vacuum of silence as there was no wind blowing and no critters moving about.

BW photograph of some dried oak and other leaves against a downed burned log.

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

When standing still there was no sound at all.  It was quite serene and made the cold almost (almost) not noticeable.

For once, the snow in the area stayed well to the south as was forecast.  When it comes to weather, what is fortunate for some often means misfortune for others.  Parts of North Carolina received a bit over a foot of snow and hundreds of thousands lost power.

Our time is sure to come.

Take care.