Appearances

May 30, 2020

BW photograph of storm clouds over some trees.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Photography catches a moment in time.  The above was taken just a bit before the rain began to fall.  Severe thunderstorms were forecast for the area, and these clouds certainly provided the appearance of delivering just that.  However…the storm did not materialize-not that that is a bad thing.  Some rain did fall, then the sky cleared, and the temperature dropped a bit.

Speaking of storms, the 2020 Hurricane Season begins on Monday June 1.  NOAA has predicted a more active season this year.  Climatic conditions are in place to create a bit more mayhem than usual-the linked report explains those factors.  2020 has already seen one named storm (Arthur) that developed earlier this month.

And speaking of weather, such storms add another complication to the COVID-19 epidemic-Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross acknowledges such in the report.  The displacement of residents and the need for emergency services produced by tropical storms and hurricanes makes an already complicated service delivery situation that much more difficult.

There is another connection between weather and COVID-19, one that is articulated in the theory that the coming of summer will kill-off the virus.  This is a concept known as “seasonality”, which is explained in this article.  It is important to also recognize, though, that summer often brings a change to human behaviour that accompanies the warming weather-this point, too, is made in the article.  In other words, there are multiple variables at work here, so it may take some time to sort out what interventions actually work with this novel virus.  Please do give the article a read.

Right now, the sky is clear and blue…there is a slight breeze, and the sun is shining.  Pretty nice.

Be safe and well.

 

BW photograph of a tree trunk laying across a hiking trail.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There was a decent rain last night, so the morning was cool, damp, and a bit foggy.

BW photograph of runoff.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Given those conditions, it seemed to be a good morning to be near some water.  The sound of running water can be quite relaxing and, given the front page of today’s New York Times, it was nice to have a moment to literally step away from the news of the day.

BW photograph of runoff with a piece of paper underneath the water.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Look carefully at the photo just above.  See anything unusual?  Sometimes I deliberately look for trash…in most cases, it is not hard to find (see below).  At other times, especially when I am searching for different subject matter or a different experience, my brain completely disregards what is there-this is a form of selective attention.  For the photograph just above, I was intent on getting the desired composition, which required some artful footwork on slippery roots and rocks.  Once in place, and with the exposure dialed, that image was made.  It was not until I was processing the image that the whitish rectangle at the lower left was noticed…nature does not do such shapes.   From a photographic perspective, there are two points to be made here:  One, once you have your composition, look away from the camera for an instant to clear your head-in other words, turn off the “creative” brain.  Then, look again with the “critical” brain.  (As an important aside, please read this.) Is there anything in the composition that is not wanted?  Two, work the scene with multiple compositions.  I had used a slightly different camera position for some earlier shots, one of which is the second image posted above, which does not include the offending rectangle.  Given that I was not looking for trash this morning, I was glad to have the tighter composition-that is more representative of my feeling at the time, and for what I was looking.  I guess a third point would be that the image could  be cropped to remove the offending object…but get it “right” in camera.

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a rain.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Back to the walk…I continued on until reaching another of my favourite places for photographing running water.  I have photographed this scene many, many times as I like getting a touch of rock in the foreground to anchor the image, while still extending into the distance toward the soft, foggy, light.  The slow shutter speed blurred the rushing water. Quite nice.

BW photograph of a crushed plastic bottle laying atop a rock.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a twisted plastic bottle laying atop a rock.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a crushed plastic bottle stuck between a root and a rock.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

What was not so nice was the trash left behind by others.

BW photograph of a pair of broken sunglasses laying near a root.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It also seems to have been a rough few days for sunglasses…

The conclusion?  It is useful to find ways to relax amid this stressful, stressful time.  Sometimes that also means, literally and figuratively, looking past that which is annoying so as to not spoil the moment.

Be safe and well.

Less?

May 22, 2020

BW photograph of a Morgan Run close-up.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There are connections to be made between air quality and COVID-19.  One is that areas with higher levels of air pollution have experienced more complications from COVID-19 than those with less pollution.  The other is that the decreased travel necessitated by stay-at-home orders has improved air quality…somewhat.  It should not be surprising that with the explosion of online ordering, mass transit of goods has also increased-that means more trucks on the road.  The factory-level burning of fossil fuels has also continued during the travel reductions.  As pointed out in the NPR report, this does provide an opportunity to learn just how much more needs to be done to clean the air than cut back on automobile usage.

Photographer’s note:  the above image is from one of my favourite places to photograph water.  If I were photographing air today, it would have been a relatively blank image of pussy-willow grey overcast.  It is also useful to recognize the connection between clean air and clean water-runoff from hard rains can result in particulate matter contaminating waterways.  With regard to air, though, one generally needs smokestacks, exhaust pipes, or smog-covered cities to visually represent the pollution.  People wearing masks is another, but that is much more the norm now…

BW photograph of a pair of sunglasses left on the ground.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Trash is another matter-it is readily visible.  As a result of the lock-down, I have not been out-and-about nearly as much as is liked.  Still, the few times I have been to my favourite local places, there has been less trash.  Not so this time.

BW photograph of a small Utz potato chip bag left on the ground.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

As restrictions ease, combined with the coming summer and the hopeful decrease in COVID-19, it is anticipated that as more people get out, the trash levels will also, unfortunately, increase.

Be safe and well.

Spring

May 18, 2020

BW photograph of azalea blooms.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Despite all of the badness, it is helpful to recognize that it is springtime…that flowers are blooming, grass is being cut, and birds are singing.  Parks are open or opening, and, as long as folks continue to practice safe distancing, wear masks, and follow whatever other restrictions are in place, being out is good for the soul.

Notice I did not mention that Tropical Storm Arthur is moving up the coast-the first named storm of the 2020 Hurricane Season…which does not officially begin until June 1.

Trying to stay positive…

Be safe and well.

Open Up

May 17, 2020

BW photograph of an evening sky with silhouetted trees in the foreground.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

States, or at least portions of states have begun to re-open.  Some of these are in compliance with, or in defiance of, governor’s orders.  For those readers in the U.S., it is worthwhile to check your state government’s home page for further information about the specifics as to what is allowable and what is not.  Having restrictions, though, does not mean folks will follow them.  In some cases, the plans have allowed for increased transmissions…meat-packing plants are an example.

BW photograph of a single shopping cart parked on a curb.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Arguments have been made that governors know best when it comes to managing COVID-19 at the local level as opposed to following a federally-mandated plan.  Not that there has been a clear and viable federal plan.

BW photograph of two shopping carts parked on a curb.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Time will certainly tell as globally there is evidence of cases increasing as restrictions are relaxed.  I used New Orleans in the link above as an example as this also addresses one of the other unknowns about COVID-19.  Speculation (hope?) has posited that as the summer months arrive, the heat and humidity increase will cause COVID-19 transmission to decease.  The problem is that Louisiana is already warm: it is 82 degrees in New Orleans as this is being typed-87 degrees is the high for Tuesday.  The air there will certainly become more soupy as the humidity levels increase in summer, though.

There is a longer-term point to this as well-temps and humidity levels will again drop come fall/winter.  Will there be a need for another round of stay-at-home orders?  Given that it will take yet awhile to have a vaccine for COVID-19, this could certainly be an issue.  We will also have the usual round of visitation by variations of the flu to complicate things.

It is useful to remember that taking care of oneself by wearing a mask and social-distancing means we are also taking care of others.

Be safe and well.

Repeat

May 12, 2020

BW photograph of a lost black glove laying next to a road.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

On Being has this intellectually deep interview/discussion with musician Devendra Banhart.  The topic centered around host Krista Tippet’s and Mr. Banhart’s impressions on how this book provides a useful perspective on the circumstances in which we find ourselves today.  One message they both referred to several times was the passage from the book:  that things fall apart, get better, then fall apart again, only to improve, and once again fall apart (this is a paraphrase).  The conversation explored the ramifications of this concept and how one can respond on a meaningful level.  It is worth a listen for the thinking it encourages.

BW photograph of a COVID-19 symptom warning sign on a medical office window.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Several of the previous posts on this blog described the connection between SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.  Listening to the program reinforced that connection for me.  Pandemics come, go, and come again.  It also (finally) resonated that this repeating pattern is, on a basic level, similar to Nietzsche’s “eternal return”-that one continues to re-experience events until the end of time.  As John Kaag states “…if one’s choices are to be replayed endlessly, they’d better be the “right” ones” (p 74).  “Right” is, of course, a value-laden term.  That is part of what makes the process of arriving at a decision complicated.  This is especially true when the decisions impact the many and not just the one.

BW photograph of an empty college parking lot.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

With regard to COVID-19, there are the competing issues of economic collapse and human risk, which are writ large.  States are beginning to “re-open” in the face of concern over another wave of infections.  Kaag goes on to emphasize that for Nietzsche, decisions are highly personal and that one must assume the total responsibility both for the decisions made and the resultant consequences.

And so…the issue of responsibility.  At the risk of stereotyping (and this is a stereotype-this also takes us out of the realm of an individual and into the collective), here in the U.S. we like to assign blame.  As such, that can become a means by which to avoid personal responsibility-“…it’s not my fault…”  This, then, is also a means by which to avoid taking action.  The politics of the day appear to be based on this pattern.  Indeed, our history is littered with politicians who have not taken responsibility for their behaviour, let alone apologize, until they literally have been caught with their pants down.  Scientific data is dismissed, and when things go badly, there is a search for whom to point the finger and shift responsibility.

Yes, choices must be made.  Those making them must also accept that responsibility.

As an aside, the concepts alluded to in this post most certainly do require further exploration and examination as there is much more that the authors intended with these works.  This search for meaning, for understanding, and the means by which to cope requires cultivation and stimulation.  It is important to gather data and critically think about the applications of that data-to examine past mistakes in order to not make them again…and again…and again.

States are beginning to re-open.  South Korea has some experience and data worth considering.

Be safe and well.

 

Melting

May 2, 2020

BW photograph of water currents in front of a rock.

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

Lost amid the coverage of COVID-19 is this most important report (well, not lost as the link attests).  This is not to say that COVID-19 is undeserving of the attention.  It is, though, another example of how chronic conditions continue outside of public awareness when more acute issues arise.

We really do seem to have a short attention span.  Once SARS dissipated, interest was lost.  Then, along came MERS.  Now, we have COVID-19, which highlighted the lack of preparation for such a pandemic. Meanwhile, the ice sheets have continued to melt and seas have continued to rise.

At some point, it is hoped that we collectively learn that it is in humanity’s best interest to be more forward thinking:  to fully engage in the research and development needed to address emerging pathogens rather than by cutting funding and eliminating programs once the crisis has passed.  To fully commit to funding the R&D to provide the needed adaptation/mitigation options as dictated by environmental conditions.  Climate change has long lacked that necessary attention.

Climate change, especially given the political administrations in place in much of the world and their interest in rolling-back environmental protection efforts, remains inexorable in its effect.

Take care and be safe.