Haunting

November 26, 2019

 

BW photograph of the greenhouses and main building of an abandoned nursery.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There is a haunting quality that accompanies abandoned buildings.

BW photograph of the main building of an abandoned nursery.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Part of that comes from the physical aging of the structures.  Wood dries out, bakes in the sun, and turns grey.

BW photograph of the greenhouses, which are part of an abandoned nursery.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Translucent materials become fogged and weathered.  Doors flap and creak in the wind.

BW photograph of the main building of an abandoned nursery.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Mostly though, that feeling comes from the loss of purpose and energy provided by a living presence.  In this case, one can easily imagine the rows of flowers or herbs or vegetables that once could have been grown and sold here.  The interaction of customers and the vendor(s) as goods were exchanged for payment.  The pleasure derived from fresh produce.

The flip side of that, though, is the struggle to make a small business work in an era of industrial farming, long-distance trucking, and chain stores.  (This is, of course, speculation as I do not know the reason for the ending of this establishment.)  Owners tire, become physically or financially unable to continue, or develop other interests, other needs.

Imagining what once was is part of the draw to creating images of that left behind.

Take care.

 

Trivial

November 24, 2019

BW photograph of the snow-covered mountains outside of Livingston, Montana.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This morning on NPR’s On Being, author Marilynne Robinson made the comment that “…human beings are a fairly trivial presence in the environment…”  This is a point that is both well-taken and one that needs to be taken in the context in which she said it:  she was describing her growing up in Idaho near the Rocky Mountains.  (The above photograph was not made in Idaho, but Montana.)  In such a setting, human beings really are relatively few and far between and physically quite small when compared to the geography and space of the place.  Physicist Marcelo Gleiser is also a guest, and that interview is well worth a listen.

As an aside, it is quite important to take quotes in the context in which they are made.  Otherwise, it is very easy to misinterpret their meaning, or to, in fact, provide meaning that was not intended by the speaker.

BW photograph of a highway system looking down from a high window.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

For example, I am going to put that quote into a different, much broader, context.  We know that, in the aggregate, the density of humans and their impact on the environment are anything but trivial.

BW photograph of left behind shoes among leaves on the ground.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I do very much agree with what Ms. Robinson said.  There are places in the world that are vast and magical, places that dwarf the human presence, especially when one is a child.  Were they to remain so.  Think about this:  compare the scale of a human to that of Mount Everest, which at 29,029 feet is the highest point on earth.  Then, think about this.

Broadening the perspective:  according to NOAA, October 2019 is the second hottest October on record-2019 is also the second hottest year on record.  So, there is that.

Finally, the “few and far between” descriptor (which is mine) above also needs to be placed within the global context of the number of people on the planet.

None of the above is trivial.

Take care.

Interpretation

November 17, 2019

Colour photograph of the sun setting in Frederick, MD.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There really is a fundamental choice between working in colour and working in BW.  One of those points worth considering is how the viewer will interpret the image.  For example, in the photograph above, it is readily apparent that this is light at the extreme of a day-it happens to be a sunset, although it could have been a sunrise.  (This scene, though, is looking west, so that would be a giveaway that this is a sunset.)  The tell-tale colours make the point.  The hues provide a sense of “warmth”, which may then produce a feeling of comfort.

BW photograph of the sun setting in Frederick, MD.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

If, however, you take the same scene, but create a BW image, the visual clue of the colour is eliminated.  The tonal qualities of the clouds could now be signifying incoming weather.  This is a much starker rendition and creates a very different “feel” to the scene.  To me, it is still beautiful, though.  I like the purity that comes with BW.

It is important to know that neither photograph presents the “reality” of the moment.  The colour photograph was made using the Velvia emulation, which produces very saturated colours-they were not quite this rich.  The BW version was made using the Acros emulation with a green filter to darken the clouds a bit.  Most see in colour, so a BW photograph automatically changes the perception of the viewer.  The focal length used also provided a narrower field of view than would the human eye.  In both cases, to avoid over-exposing the sky, the foreground elements were allowed to record as deep shadows/silhouettes-the eye has a much broader dynamic range and could therefore present much greater detail in those darker areas.  I am fine with the silhouettes.  There are a number of techniques that could be used to hold detail in both the sky and the foreground, but I do not like to do so.  These images are more dramatic.

At this point in my career, I tend to immediately think about the BW version of any scene.  My cameras are configured to align with that preference.  Therefore, it takes a conscious effort to make the changes necessary to create a colour image.  (Sometimes, I neglect to do so as it does not occur to me.)  That is one of the advantages of shooting digital-one camera provides all of the options.  When shooting film, I often carried two bodies-one with colour slide film (Velvia, when photographing the natural world), and one with BW film (usually, TMAX 100).  That system was useful, but sometimes created a problem with the lens I wanted being paired with the film I didn’t.

It is helpful for the photographer to have a clear intent in mind for the final image.  That may, or may not, include the interpretations of the view.

Take care.

Leakage

November 17, 2019

BW photograph of a tire laying in a stream.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This report aired on NPR as I was driving to work the other morning.  This is from a bit earlier in the month.  The connection?  Toxins being released into the environment, which, in turn, pose present dangers to biological organisms.   The first report states that funds are not available to adequately police wild areas, therefore toxic chemicals used in the illegal drug trade make their way into the food chain.   In the second, it is the proposed relaxation of environmental protection standards governing disposal of waste from coal-fired power plants that is the issue.  The risk is that of toxins contaminating water sources.

BW photograph of a can in a plastic bag laying next to a leaf.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I sometimes reach the point where stories about the goal of maximizing profits, whether within or without legal and/or regulatory bounds, resulting in environmental damage become more than I want to hear, and I feel the urge to turn off the radio.  That, then, begs the question:  If one does not listen to such reports, then how does one know the breadth and depth of an issue?  If one does not keep up-to-date on regulatory roll-backs or the illegal use of toxins, how does one know the extent of the damage?  What would happen if folks stopped paying attention to the environment?  If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?  Of course it does.  As long as there is violation of regulatory standards, which includes the failure to adequately fund such efforts or the blatant rolling back/reversal of said standards, the damage continues, thereby creating the persistent need to pay attention.  The frustration and dismay that periodically builds is simply the evidence that more work needs to be done.  That work begins with a critical awareness of the issues.

Keep paying attention.

Take care.

Squall

November 8, 2019

BW photograph of a snow squall looking into the rising sun.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Awoke to a 34 degree morning that had followed some rain yesterday.  Therefore, it was damp and a bit chilly.  As if on cue, a snow squall blew in.

Photographer’s note:  The lighter dots in the above photograph are the reverse of what specks of dust on a sensor would look like.  As such, they can be quite an annoyance and are one reason to be careful when changing lenses in the wild.  In this photograph, though, those spots are snowflakes, which have been dodged a little to be more visible (Dodging is a darkroom technique to lighten content.  Burning is the opposite-that is used to darken content.).  Interestingly, if you change the seasons and swap the sun for the moon, then the snowflakes could be fireflies.

BW photograph of some downed leaves against a log with a light dusting of the first snow of the season.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This was the first snow for the area and created quite a peaceful scene.  I like when there is a blending of the icons that mark the transitions between seasons.

BW photograph of a downed tree with rocks and leaves in the foreground.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a downed tree leading into some brush.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There was ample evidence, though, of the damage wrought by the wind storms that had blown though the area in the not too distant past.

Perhaps all of this is a foreshadowing of the winter yet to come.

Time will tell.

Take care.

Fall

November 3, 2019

BW photograph of a line of bare trees after one of the first frosts of the season.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We have had a few signs that fall is upon us.  One is cultural:  the clocks were set back one hour this morning (“Spring ahead and Fall behind” as the saying goes).  The rest, though, most certainly pre-date the human measurement of time.  Tree leaves have been turning colour and dropping for awhile now.  The colder temperatures of the last couple of days have brought about the first mild frosts, which were apparent in the early morning.

BW photograph of a field of corn against a blue sky.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

To me, though, the most visceral, the most resonant, is the drying of the field corn.

BW photograph of a closer view of stalks of corn.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The transition of the summer stalks from the then vibrant green to the muted tan/brown of today, and from what were once supple to the now crinkly, are true measures of the passage of time.  It is not purely visual, either.  There is nothing that quite matches the raspy, textured sound produced by the wind moving about the stalks.  There is a metaphor here that also marks the aging process for us, too.

That time is here.

The sun warms in either case.

Take care.

More Blue

November 3, 2019

BW photograph of several brick structures.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The cold front that moved into the area made for a nicely sunny, but bracing, morning.  It was a good day for a walk.

BW photograph of a newly renovated building.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The two photographs here are more examples of the use of a red filter to darken blue skies.  Having white buildings creates strong contrast while the direct sun forms well-defined shadows; both of which produce a full ranges of tones that make for pleasing BW photography.

Take care.