Choices

December 6, 2017

BW photograph of an Opinel knife.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Simplicity…or

BW photograph of a Wenger Swiss Army Knife with the implements displayed.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Versatility.

Both the Opinel and the Wenger Swiss Army Knife pictured above are classics in their own right.  I first learned of the Opinel when reading about mountain climbing expeditions decades ago.  My first contact with a Swiss Army Knife was when one was gifted to me in my early teens.

Which do you choose?

That question actually becomes much more difficult as there are multiple models of each.  In the case of Swiss Army Knives, one used to be able to choose between Wenger (the “Genuine Swiss Army Knife”) and Victorinox (the “Original Swiss Army Knife”).  While the brand of Swiss Army Knife has been cut to one (Victorinox), the wide range of choice remains.  With versatility also comes a bit of complexity.

Choose wisely.

Take care.

 

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Coffee

December 1, 2017

 

BW photograph of a strongly-lit coffee cup.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Yes, the availability of good coffee, preferably at an independently owned shop, is very much a key to the walkability of a place.

Coffee is an integral part of global history and culture, and therefore very much open to a sociological view.  One of the major sociological theories is Symbolic Interactionism, which essentially argues that societies attach meaning to words and concepts-and it is the interpretation of those meanings that is critical to understanding a given group.  With that in mind, this is an anecdote from a wander in Los Angeles:  Every now and then when walking, I order a decaf, sugar-free, skim milk, vanilla latte.  Given that it is somewhat frightening when I hear myself make that order, I usually just get regular decaf coffee.  However, on that particular occasion, I went with the latte.

In keeping with the attachment of meaning to words, having ordered the latte described above, the barista said “We call that a ‘why bother?'”.

Take care.

Wandering

November 26, 2017

BW photograph of some stores on Front Street in Bath, ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Wandering is the close relative to walkability.  To “wander”, in my mind, is to move about aimlessly, or, more-to-the-point, to change direction as needed based on what becomes of interest.  A place needs to have walkability in order to feel comfortable when wandering about.  Both of those characteristics are loaded in value judgments-from a sociological perspective, values are used to determine what is right/wrong, good/bad, and/or acceptable/unacceptable.  Someone who appreciates the hustle and bustle of, say, New York City, may be on the right side of those hash marks with regard to the views expressed here.

BW photograph of Front Street in the early morn. Bath, ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Walkability, and therefore the ability to wander, is based on a fundamental feel for a place-travel photographers often talk about the “spirit of place”.  That feel and spirit is generated by a variety of components; again, one’s values are the key factor here.  While walkability and wandering can be applied to a larger city, or at least certain parts of larger cities, this is much more of a small town experience.  My preference is for a main street (and all the more nostalgic if it is actually Main Street) along which are smaller, independently owned merchandisers among which to shop and eat; more about this is a minute.

BW photograph of a table and chair on the sidewalk in Bath, ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It helps to have brick sidewalks, although the more ubiquitous concrete will do.  Some trees lining the way make for a pleasant experience.  Being able to move about at a leisurely pace without being trampled by others moving with a purpose is critical.

BW photograph of the side/back of Bath Savings, in Bath, ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It goes without saying that pedestrians really do need to have the right-of-way without the risk of unpleasant gestures.  Speaking of pedestrians, it definitely adds to the pleasure when passersby acknowledge a greeting and are not buried within technology.

With regard to the shops, there are two types of utmost importance-and, actually, most likely, in this order of priority:  a good coffee shop and a good bookstore-extra satisfaction comes from the availability of used books.  If there were a third type, it would be good restaurants that have selections for healthy vegetarian dining.  That one is somewhat optional as one can always obtain food elsewhere.  The “independently owned” criteria applies greatly to each.  Yes, I do visit Dunkin’ Donuts and Barnes and Noble with a degree of regularity, however, we are talking about walkability and wandering.  I expect and do neither at those establishments.

BW photograph of the riverfront off Commerce Street in Bath, ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of the neighborhood nearby, and the crane, at Bath Iron Works in Bath. ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of the trestles for a bridge over the Kennebec River in Bath, ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The photographs herein are from Bath, ME-a town that absolutely meets all of the criteria above.  Bath is a place where it is quite comfortable to walk about and wander with a cup of coffee in hand.  Once that part of the day has concluded, the settling down with a good book can follow…

Take care.

Gratitude

November 20, 2017

BW photograph of a tree shadow against a background of sycamore leaves.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

NPR’s  1A had a segment about gratitude today.  This is in keeping with the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday as celebrated by many in the U.S. later this week.

Being a bit of a wordsmith, I appreciated the distinctions made between gratitude, happiness, and being blessed.  Also, understanding the progression from gratitude as a thought to gratitude as a feeling via mindfulness was extremely helpful.   While everyone may not enjoy the level of nuance in the discussion, the overall intent makes the program well worth a listen.  Dare I say that I am grateful to have heard it…

BW photograph of pine cones laying atop pine needles.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Given that the host was interesting in that for which people are grateful, I am very grateful to have the ability to convey my view of the world via the images I make.  This is not a small thing.  Pat Perry, my mentor, took his time (an awful lot of time) and shared his knowledge with me in a way that both allowed me to grow into the craft and served as a model for the teaching of photography.  I would not be in the position I am without having had the opportunity to work with Pat.  In fact, I think quite often about what he would say about my work today were he still alive for us to have those conversations.

BW photograph of an overpass and intersection in Bath, ME.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Photography, of course, also involves having the time to travel about and explore-to do what I call “wandering”.   That entails having a degree of health, for which I am extremely grateful.  On a bigger scale, wandering also includes being grateful to live in a country where one can move about with a camera and be (relatively) free to document the culture that is us.  While there are issues with that in some parts of the U.S., many in other parts of the world sacrifice all that is theirs in the service of photojournalism/documentary photography.  We all need to be grateful to those who take such risks.

Finally, I am grateful to those to who view my work and find it of some value.

Thank you.

 

One Year

November 7, 2017

BW photograph of a United States flag facsimile laying among leaves and sticks.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It has been one year since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.   In that time period, there has been:

the plan to pull-out of the Paris Accord;

the roll-backs on Obama-era efforts to combat climate change (the Clean Power Plan, for example);

the response to, and statements about, the hurricane destruction in Puerto Rico;

the statements made following the violence/killings in Charlottesville, VA, Las Vegas, NV, and Sutherland Springs, TX;

the statements labeling criticism as “fake news”;

the open hostility toward the press; and

ad infinitum.

BW photograph of a twig that looks like a headless human laying upon a sidewalk.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Sometimes it seems as if we are operating without a brain.

Take care.

Provisions

November 1, 2017

BW photograph of dropped pine needles.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Thich Nhat Hanh discusses the manner by which to practice mindfulness while walking in his book How to Walk.  As I work to become a bit more Zen in the approach to my daily strolls,  I can certainly appreciate the emphasis on the connection to Earth within the book.  Indeed, there is a brief stretch of one frequently walked loop the lies under a canopy of pine trees.  The transition from walking on asphalt to walking on a blanket of pine needles is most noticeable-it is so much softer, like walking on marshmallows without worrying about them sticking to your shoes, and adds some float to the process.  That is most welcome.

There is also a difference in the air-the trees provide a measure of shade, so one notices a change to the micro-climate when walking under them.  Also, the turpines in the pine add a most pleasant scent.  As per the research described by Florence Williams, this can reduce the amount of cortisol in one’s system.

The provision of these resources as such is especially beneficial when a full-on session of shinrin-yoku (and here) is not possible.

Take care.

“Take Me Home…”

October 25, 2017

BW photograph of a leaf-covered road in WVa.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

“… country roads.”

John Denver’s song has a brief, but pivotal role in the recent Alien: Covenant.  It is also the basis of a sentiment that must, on some level, eventually put a buzz into any traveler’s ear.

BW photograph of an old barn in WVa.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The question then becomes what, when, and where is “home”?  Is that a physical or emotional place? Both? Neither?  How about a state of mind?  However it is defined, “home” must indeed be clearly defined.  Otherwise, how do you know when you have arrived? How do you gain a sense of being grounded?

On the other hand, how important is that?

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Put me in the mountains, and I am there.

As an aside, the photographs contained herein were made in West Virginia.

Take care.