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.

Storm

November 1, 2019

BW photograph of a small waterfall created by a large storm.

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

Last night, areas of the Mid-Atlantic were under a tornado warning as a strong cold front blew into much warmer air.  Fortunately, that did not happen; but a decidedly decent thunderstorm was created.  The ambient temperature at the time of the storm was around 74 degrees.  This morning, the temperature was down to 41 degrees.  Strong winds rattled the house and a heavy (as in the size of the drops), heavy (as in the overall amount) rain drummed down and against the outer walls.  This was accompanied by the requisite thunder and lightening.  It was a bit odd for October 31 and precluded any Halloween festivities.

BW photograph of a downed tree after a strong storm.

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

BW photograph of a downed tree after a strong storm-diofferent view.

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

BW photograph of a section of log deposited on a flat rock after a strong storm.

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

BW photograph of debris collected against some rocks after a hard rain.

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

BW photograph of a branch wedged against a rock after a hard rain.

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

As such, it was not surprising to see the accumulated debris at Morgan Run deposited by the strong winds and swollen water.

BW photograph of sycamore trees against a clear blue sky after a strong storm.

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

Such storms clear the air of particulate matter-the much colder air also leaves a crispness to the day.

(Photographer’s Note:  the use of a red filter will make blue skies go quite black.  Judicious use of a polarizer can also help.  This works nicely when there are bright highlights, such as the sunlit trunks of the trees, to create more contrast.)

BW photograph of a variety of leaves blown to the ground after a strong storm.

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

Of course, those leaves blasted by the winds and pummeled by the rains have to go somewhere…gravity took care of that leaving a colourful matting scattered about the ground.  It a nice morning to be out and about.  One that cleared the senses as well.

Having said that, it would have been a much different morning had a tornado touched down.  We were fortunate.  On the other side of the country, the National Weather Service implemented an Extreme Red Flag Warning for parts of California due to extremely strong winds, which have exacerbated the current fire season.  Coping with these conditions have resulted in current hardships as well as the potential for future problems-how will residents be able to afford home insurance when the risk of total loss due to fire becomes omnipresent?

They could have used some of this rain.  The wind would have been best to have stayed away.

Take care.

 

The War of the Worlds

October 17, 2019

BW photograph of a water tower-long, wide composition.

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

These are images from Frederick, Maryland.  Each time I go there and look toward this water tower, I think of H.G. Wells’ classic The War of the Worlds.  The cover image in that link should provide the rationale for this association.

BW photograph of a water tower with the tower left of center overlooking some houses.

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

This work was published in book form in 1898 and later adapted as a live radio broadcast by Orson Wells.  That broadcast, which coincided with Halloween, was reported to have been thought by some as a narrative of a real invasion-the story of this broadcast is quite a tale.  There have been a few movie adaptations over the years.

Spoiler alert: if you have not read the book nor heard/viewed any of the adaptations, please stop here.

BW photograph of a water tower right of center overlooking some houses.

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

If you are familiar with the end of the story, then you know that the martians are ultimately defeated by the air on earth.  While our technology and war machines were no match for their technology and tripods, the entities themselves simply could not safely breathe our air.  They perished.

Importantly, in reality, such is the case for many humans here in the 21st century.  This is a link regarding the most air polluted cities in the U.S.  This one broadens the scope to the planet.  Statistics regarding the number of premature deaths due to air pollution are also included in the latter link.  (As an important aside, BBC’s Witness History program aired an episode of how Mexico City addressed its car pollution problem.)

BW photograph of a set of old wooden stairs leading to a boarded-over entrance.

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

Given the toxicity of the air, human-generated pollution presents a clear and present danger to the well-being of peoples around the world, especially as efforts are made to roll-back previous legislation regarding pollutants.

BW photograph of fallen leaves laying in a puddle in a gutter.

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

Indeed, uninhabitable conditions, be they environmental (polluted air and water, drought, desertification, rising seas, etc.), economic (lack of employment, exploitation), or social (war, persecution, genocide, other forms of violence) are some of the main drivers of human migration.  As the planet continues to warm and such conditions intensify, so will the conflicts over the remaining habitable areas.  This is one reason for the renewed interest in extra-planetary travel.

It would seem reasonable that there is some form of intelligent life out there in the ‘verse.  One could say that it is a bit egocentric/ethnocentric to think we are the only intelligent life in existence.  (One could also say that given the current state of affairs in so many places, our intelligence could be questioned…)  Therefore, SETI had a history and there is a rationale for the current iteration.  Time will tell.  My fantasy, though, is that any other extraterrestrial life capable of being consciously aware of us would also be intelligent enough to avoid our attempts to make contact.  The manner by which we treat each other and our planet is enough to give intelligent beings pause.

Take care.