Shinrin Yoku

March 26, 2017

BW photograph of trees against an overcast sky.

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

At the beginning of the first chapter of her new book The Nature Fix, Florence Williams introduces and discusses the Japanese concept of shinrin yoku, or “forest bathing”.  Essentially, this is a deeply immersive experience of being in the woods.  Ms. Williams includes a review of Japan’s work ethic, which makes taking time for forest bathing more than just a pleasant experience.

Yesterday was sunny and nearly 80 degrees-early this morning it was 44 degrees, overcast, and quite damp.  Much, much chillier and monochromatic.  Nonetheless, it was good to take the time to practice forest bathing.  The last post referenced Maryland’s parks-the photographs included here are from Morgan Run, the source of many other photos throughout the years and a favourite place to visit.  Prior to reading that part of Ms. Williams’ book, I was unaware of the term shinrin yoku, however, the concept and benefit was very familiar-it easily translates to American culture.  Part of what makes this such a deeply satisfying experience is the opportunity to turn-off the inner chatter and outer technology, which includes figuring out exposures/compositions and putting the cameras away; sitting quietly upon the rocks; being still; and focusing on the individual sensory experiences:

BW photograph of the water running at Morgan Run.

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

Close the eyes and listen to the water run.

BW photograph of the water running at Morgan Run.

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

Cover the ears and watch the water run.

BW photograph of trees against an overcast sky.

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

Do both and turn into the wind to feel the air move over the skin.

BW photograph of a single boulder mid-stream.

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

Sit upon the rocks and experience the damp and cool invade the body.

This is one of the best ways to truly feel alive and at peace.

Take care.

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BW photograph of a lost glove laying on a brick sidewalk.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

These two seemingly matched gloves were found about one-half mile apart on two different days.

BW photograph of a lost glove laying on a cobblestone street.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Most likely, though, these came from different pairs, as there are many samples of this type of glove lying around the various construction sites in Fells Point.  Visually, given the manner in which they were found, that is, as photographed, it is not possible to tell right from left, although the bottom glove is probably for the right hand.  The background is what sets them apart:  the first is on a herringbone-patterned brick sidewalk; the second is on a cobblestone street.  Otherwise, they are of the same colour, texture, and overall design.  It makes you wonder what happened to the mate(s).

If they were indeed from a single pair, what story could you tell about these two lost gloves?

Take care.

The End

March 7, 2016

BW photograph of a sidewalk that ends in a strip of grass.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Think of all the metaphors for the above photograph.

In 1967, The Doors released their eponymous first album, which contained a song entitled “The End”.  While it is quite haunting and dramatic, if you are unfamiliar with the work, please just know that some may find the lyrics offensive, if not disturbing.  Perhaps that is why Francis Ford Coppola used it as the soundtrack for the introductory scenes of Apocalypse Now.  It is interesting that a song entitled “The End” opens a movie.  Given the narrative that follows, one could argue that it is quite fitting.

BW photograph of a pair of rusty channel lock pliers laying in the grass.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And so here we are:  the end of winter (it was 63 degrees today, but that happened earlier this year, so one is advised to not get too excited about that…yet); the coming of the end of Daylight Savings Time (if you are in a part of the world with that practice); and most certainly…

BW photograph of silhouetted trees at twilight.

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

the end of the day.

Take care.

Which Way to Go?

October 23, 2015

BW photograph of a black metal rail and some stairs on the side of a building

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This photograph represents all that I find pleasurable about BW photography-it contains the full range of tones from black, through the greys, to white.  The direct sunlight coming from camera right is responsible for the crisply defined, dark shadows and the very bright, white doors and covered windows.  It is that same combination of shadow and highlight that so readily defines the texture of the wall and stairs as well.  It is because of those factors that I had made the decision to convert this image to BW even before the shutter was pressed.

BW photograph of a solitary metal fork lying in the road

Copyright 2015 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Speaking of choices, Yogi Berra, may he rest in peace, once said “If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”  This particular fork may still be laying there…

Take care.

Snow mounds with shadows and highlights.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There have been many posts written on this blog that are tied to the Symbolic Interactionist theory of Sociology.  At its core, this theory states that words are symbols that have meaning and that without this form of communication, culture would not exist.  For example, as new technologies are developed or new discoveries are made, words have to be created so as to have a means of identifying, defining, and communicating these experiences to the masses.  This winter of 2014 has brought some extremely cold temperatures and a couple of (newish) terms to the weather lexicon: Polar Vortex and Bombogenesis.

News organizations have been covering this story from a variety of angles and it appears folks have been blogging about these conditions, and these terms figure prominently in those discussions.  There really is not much more to add other than this thought, which relates to the second word linked above.  “Bomb” has been used to discuss long passes in football; home runs hit in baseball; a movie failing at the box office;  a lack of personal success in love or work; and, more recently in pop culture, something that is considered cool or desirable.  Sebastian Junger  wrote The Perfect Storm, which is about the convergence of three weather systems that led to the sinking of the Andrea Gale, and “bomb” was used by the forecaster in the movie adaptation to describe that event.  Historically, of course, the word refers to an explosive device used in war or to incite terror.  Far too often now stories using this term are about this last meaning, which is the reason why I pause a bit when “bomb” is used with any of those other connotations.      

Sun setting over snow with tree shadows.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

With regard to the weather, I am waiting for the warmth that is yet to come.

Take care.

Superstorm Sandy

October 30, 2012

Sandy appears to have been re-named.  She is no longer the “Frankenstorm”- she is the “Superstorm”.  That part seems a pity, especially since this is Halloween.  It can also be argued that if the goal is to bring attention to the enormity of a weather event, calling her the “Frankenstorm” does a much better job.  After all, everything from laundry detergent to the size of soda is “super” now and so that appellation actually seems to be more the norm, and Sandy is decidedly not that.

Simple semantics aside, Sandy has wrecked a good part of the East Coast.  By this morning, 320,000 Marylanders did not have power-about 8 million people nationally are without power.  Parts of West Virginia and Maryland have upwards of two feet of snow.  Flooding is widespread and public transportation has been disrupted.  There has been the loss of lives.  Right now it is 40 degrees outside and it is hard to wrap around the notion that we have both a hurricane and a blizzard nearly simultaneously.  Maryland is a perfect example:  the Eastern Shore area has several towns that are flooded while the western mountain region has that two feet of snow.  Incredible.

Best wishes to all who have been affected.

Take care.

LA Culture

August 18, 2012

Plane at airport

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is an update to the previous post.

The rescheduled trip to LA went quite smoothly.  Employees at the airport were in a much better mood than this morning-it is easy to imagine how difficult it is to deal with the behaviour of travelers who think they must have someone upon whom to vent their frustration when things go wrong.  The staff that morning also had to contend with a balky baggage conveyor-it was not a good way to start the day for anybody.

LA as seen from Mulholland Drive

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The flight itself went well and once there, I went for several drives through the city and surrounding areas.  It was especially intriguing to actually see so many places depicted in popular culture (movies and books) in real-time.  David Lynch had made a movie entitled “Mulholland Drive”, for example, and  above is an image of LA made from one of the overlooks on this iconic drive.  A car accident factors into the plot of the movie and having now been on the road and driven its curves, it is easy to have a frame of reference for how crashes could occur.

Highway 110 in Los Angeles

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

These drives also provided an opportunity to experience the language of LA.  Language is an integral part of any culture.  In fact, it can be said that without language, culture would not exist, and so it is important to pay attention to how language is used when traveling. The locals in LA seem to attach the word “the” to their highways as in “We took the 110 into the city”.  I tend to do this with the grocery store I sometimes use-“I am going to the Giant”-and so it was interesting to see that idiom applied to a different structure.  However, where I live folks do not seem to say “I took the 95 to Washington”…

Street scene of Magnolia Avenue in Los Angeles

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…just as in LA people do not seem to say “I took the Magnolia Avenue.”  My contemporaries do however say, “I took the beltway.”  So, it appears that when using the route numbers, those living in LA attach “the”, but not when using street names. We use “the” with pronouns, but not the route numbers.  Not sure how this distinction developed, but if used enough, any pattern of language becomes habitual and so can differentiate one geographic location from another.  (Need I say the word “hon” for those in Baltimore, MD?)

Republic of Pie sign

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Food is another prominent aspect of culture and it seems as if pie is replacing cupcakes as the new “in” food as there are specialty shops springing up on both coasts.  I for one am OK with this-pie is such a treat.  Cupcakes?  Not so much.  The Republic of Pie is an example and is located in North Hollywood.

Piece of blueberry pie from Republic of Pie

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

California is often seen as a trend-setter and so LA has several pie shops wherein one can indulge.  Yes, this pie was certainly as good as it looks and several hours were spent in the Republic of Pie.

LA Post Office and intersection

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Finally, architecture is one more vehicle by which culture is expressed. The post office in LA looks much different from the post office in Manderson, South Dakota for example.

The Getty Museum garden

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

From an architectural standpoint, museums present a duality of culture in that they house and display examples of material culture while at the same time serving as examples of culture in-and-of themselves.  Coincidentally, one of the exhibits at the Getty Museum was entitled “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style” which is a celebration of the manner in which Mr. Ritts’  impacted the world of fashion photography.  Fashion is, after all, one of the fundamental examples of material culture  and LA is certainly one of the style-setters because who wears what out there is often the model for what becomes popular dress across the country.

The Getty Museum courtyard

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Due to its location and construction, the Getty Museum gleams in the direct sunlight that is southern California.  As such, it is an excellent example of the glamour that is LA culture.

Getty Museum tram dropoff

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It must be said that LA did provide a different experience from what was expected.  Granted, not much time was spent in the downtown area, but it was surprising what a small-town feel there was to the North Hollywood section where I spent the majority of my time.  Most of the visited areas were within a short walk and it is hard to imagine not being able to find what is needed for daily life within that space.  As does fit the LA stereotypes, the highways were quite crowded and we decided to not visit the beach specifically because of the traffic and packed parking lots.  That too, was OK as I am not much of a beach person anyway.  

Take care.