Pretty

February 16, 2018

BW photograph of trees silhouetted at twilight.

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

After having made two trips in New Orleans in post-Katrina 2008, I had decided that making pretty photographs was a waste of my time.  There are two very subjective aspects in that sentence:  the first, “pretty”, is open to interpretation.  My initial photographic interest was the natural world-grand scenics and the intimate microcosm of mountains, flowers, and critters.  Having been to the Lower 9th Ward and other areas that were still wrecked three years after the storm had made an impression-“pretty” images were of much less interest.  The second, “…waste of my time.” is not saying “a waste of time period“; it was fine for others to make such photographs.   I wanted to make socially relevant photographs to illustrate a number of concerns that I felt were important-they could be largely grouped under the heading of the human impact on the natural world.  Hence my emphasis on trash, for example.

A decade later, I have found myself to be increasing frustrated and disillusioned, and, yes, angry, at the state of the world; particularly U.S. politics and the role it plays in local, national, and global events.  We have had yet another mass shooting in a school.  That makes something like 30 such events since the start of 2018, let alone what came before.  Previous posts have detailed my concerns over the political response to climate change.  Trash continues to proliferate.  And so on.  While Steven Pinker does have a point, as does this article, the examples cited here dull the shine of such information, especially when they have a direct impact on a given individual.

BW photograph of trees silhouetted at twilight with clouds in the background.

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

All of which leads me back to “pretty”.  That is still very much a subjective term.  The photographs included here fit that definition for me.  I very much like B&W photographs that have a full range of tones from deep blacks to bright whites.   It is also helpful to remember the emotions experienced at the time the shutter was pressed.  Watching the clouds move across the sky and the manner by which the light changed in response to that movement induced a sense of calm and wonder.  For a few moments, the info in the paragraph above became irrelevant.

That does not mean those issues can be ignored or obfuscated.  Doing so is, after all, what allows them to worsen.  I will most certainly continue to make photographs to illustrate that which is of concern to me.  At the same time,  I am returning to my roots (which seems to be an appropriate phrase for the intent here, literally and figuratively) as it is quite useful to one’s well-being to find some beauty and peace when possible.

Take care.

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Deadfall

February 4, 2018

BW photograph of the beginning of the Cat Rock Trail in winter

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

The 2017 fire season in California was the worst in recorded history.

BW photograph of looking downstream of Big Hunting Creek in winter

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

The other night, the President delivered his first State of the Union speech and gave a shout out to “…beautiful, clean coal…”, but did not mention climate change.  That is not at all surprising given his position on this issue.

BW photograph of horizontal trees covered in snow

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

The photographs herein are not from California, but were made in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland.  The debris depicted, which is sometimes referred to as “deadfall”, literally becomes fuel for fire.  Extreme heat and drought stress trees.  When they then shed branches or themselves fall, the resulting detritus becomes drier still and forms the tinder awaiting a spark.  Out west, that often comes from lightning;  however, humans, being either careless or deliberate with fire, can initiate the blaze as well.

BW photograph of much deadfall laying about in winter

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

(It is because of the risk of uncontrolled forest fires that the U.S. Forest Service often use prescribed burns.  There have been occasions when these preventative measures have themselves gotten out of hand.)

BW photograph of much deadfall laying about in winter

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

Forest fires remove a main source of greenhouse gas reduction, the trees themselves, and add the carbon stored in the trees back into the atmosphere.  Furthermore, the particulate matter from the combustion rises into the air and is eventually deposited on polar ice sheets.  This dark snow, then, absorbs heat and increases the loss of ice.  This cycle continues as long as forests burn.

BW photograph of fallen leaves frozen to the ground in winter

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

The sustained emphasis on the production and consumption of fossil fuels quite simply exacerbates the problems described here.

Take care.

Hurricane Season

September 27, 2017

BW photograph of a bike rack flooded by Hurricane Jose at Bethany Beach.

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

This is a photo essay showing the standing water that remained a couple of days after having been left by Hurricane Jose as it passed by Bethany Beach.  Jose remained off the coast, and so this part of the world was spared the massive damage generated by the 2017 Hurricane Season (thus far).  Such is not the case for other parts of the mainland U.S. and several of the islands in the Caribbean.

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

BW photograph of a flooded storm drain in Bethany Beach.

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

NPR’s 1A broadcast a program dedicated to the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico.  This discussion addressed the breadth and depth of the humanitarian, political, economic, and social issues generated by this disaster.  Several important historical points that have contributed to the current crisis are included.  Mr. Johnson’s opening lines encapsulate what follows.

Take care.

UPDATE:  This link addresses The Jones Act mentioned in the above discussion, and this link provides more details regarding the extreme hardships being experienced in Puerto Rico.

 

 

Fall 2017

September 20, 2017

BW photograph of fall debris.

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

The official start of Fall 2017 is right around the corner.

BW photograph of a foggy river.

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

As last week closed, the days generally started with decidedly cooler temperatures.

This week, though, has seen a return to more summeresque conditions-higher temperatures and humidity.  The week also brought a continuation of natural disasters:  Hurricane Jose has created some disruption for the Mid-Atlantic, and Hurricane Maria has torn up several countries on her march westward.  Time will tell if she is destined for the U.S.

Violent weather patterns are not the only issue as we make this transition:  Mexico had a 7.1 earthquake.

Hurricane season officially ends on November 30.  There is no “season” for earthquakes-they are the result of geology.  Such quakes are not unique to Mexico-in 2015, Nepal experienced a 7.8 quake.  The U.S. is still waiting for “The Really Big One”.

Just as human lifestyles have contributed to climate change and the subsequent increase in massive storms, not to mention our propensity to drain wetlands and build close to shorelines, which makes the infrastructure more susceptible to flooding and storm surges; human activity also plays a role in some earthquakes and the subsequent damage done.  Part of this is due to the location and the manner in which buildings are constructed-the latter point is especially true for less developed countries-but here in the U.S., many are related to our energy production needs/methods-please read this and this.

Condolences to all who continue to suffer through these catastrophic events.

Take care.

 

Torrents

September 1, 2017

BW photograph of dark and light clouds with a tree in the foreground.

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

Harvey has set a U.S. record for the amount of rain dropped by a single storm in the history of recording such things.

Attention here is focused on Texas and Louisiana, and the other states impacted as Harvey moves north and east-what remains will most likely arrive in this area Saturday. On the other side of the world, South Asia has been hammered with torrential monsoons.  Last month, Sierra Leone experienced this.  The death tolls for both Harvey and the monsoon in India continue to rise.

The property damage caused by Harvey has yet to be determined-that should provide an interesting comparison to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

While some politicians have said this is not a time to discuss climate change, as that would be “playing politics”, at what point will the severity of climate change get the full attention of those with the power to make large-scale systemic changes?  Four years is an awful long time to wait, and there are no guarantees then.

An awful lot of losses can accrue over that span.

There is another issue to address as well-the human factor.  The above incidents are referred to as “natural disasters”.  However, that grossly overlooks the human factor.  The failure of New Orleans’ levee and seawall system has been widely documented.  (As an aside, New Orleans had flooding earlier this year due to many pump failures.).  NPR published this report regarding Houston.  Part of what contributed to the flooding in Mumbai was clogged storm drains due to the amount of trash generated-poverty and poor infrastructure add to the problems.

One thing is certain, though:  these “100 year storms” are occurring with greater and greater frequency.  When there are weaknesses in the social structure, they will increase the risk to the population.

The clouds in the above photograph?  They produced not a drop of water.

Take care.

BW photograph of a dropped leave in dried, cracked mud.

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

Yesterday, the president did what he said he would do-he withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.  NPR posted this fact-check of the speech within which the president made the announcement.

BW photograph of a dark vehicle driving in a parking lot on a rainy day as seen through a windshield.

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

And the world has responded:  It appears that China is moving towards leadership in this critical issue; France replied in this manner;  and this is the response from the EU.  This report is a little older, and, of course, we now know the result.  Ideally, the U.S. withdrawal will strengthen the resolve of the remaining 190+ countries who signed the Accord.

For someone who claims to be so enamoured with the environment (listen to or read the text of the speech), the president sure has a contradictory way of showing it-Scott Pruitt as head of EPA, the roll-backs of Obama-era climate efforts, and now this one.

It is worth noting that current Secretary of Defense James Mattis had this to say about climate change earlier this year.

Take care.

Long Term Consequences

March 6, 2017

BW photograph of a mini-falls with bubbly water.

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

It was 16 degrees Sunday morning and just above freezing this morning.  The forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s over the next couple of days and then for the possibility of snow showers later in the week.

A local NPR station has a relatively new show entitled 1A, and one of today’s broadcasts dealt with climate change-a topic that Mr. Joshua Johnson, the host, has addressed before.  The panelists reported on the fluctuation of weather systems coupled with the longer term consequences of climate change.

BW photograph of sycamore trees against the sky.

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

There were two major areas of discussion involving the warming temperatures: the shift in weather patterns and the de-synchronization between plant and animal species.  (The book Why Time Flies covered in an earlier blog includes this as well.)  One of the panelists presented a theory that addressed the former and both discussed examples to illustrate the latter.  The biological and economic consequences of these developments are quite notable.

Take care.

 

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