BW photograph of Morgan Run just after a rain.

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

it was the worst of times…”  While that is part of an extremely impressive beginning to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it has now become quite the cliché.  Nonetheless, it was apropos for this particular day at Morgan Run.

BW photograph of a rock with water flowing around it.

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

A bit of a Spring rain had just ended leaving the water with a gentle flow…

BW photograph of a poplar leaf laying atop a rock.

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

while the light was nice and soft as a result of the still overcast skies.  More rain was yet to come.

As such, the sights and sounds provided by nature were all that one could want.

BW photograph of a crushed plastic bottle.

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

BW photograph of two plastic bottles laying among some leaves.

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

BW photograph of a flipflop laying among leaves.

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

At the same time, the human imprint was also quite evident.  That is, unfortunately, most often the case-especially now that the weather has warmed and more people are accessing the area.

Take care.

 

 

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Fallen

June 9, 2018

BW photograph of a fallen, broken, tree.

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

Over the past few months, and especially recently, many images of deadfall and the result of the interaction between weather and trees have been posted and discussed.  The one above is in keeping with those themes.  As this is being written, the sky is darkening as the latest round of thunderstorms is building.

Photographically, diagonal lines can draw the viewer’s attention.  While vertical and horizontal lines imply stability, diagonal lines induce a bit of tension in a scene.  The tension in this particular photograph, though, has already been released as the tree has fallen.   Still, there remains a bit of drama as the tree is neither vertical nor completely horizontal.

The existential question remains:  did it make a sound when it fell?

Take care.

Ellicott City et al

May 29, 2018

BW photograph of flood debris along Big Hunting Creek.

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

Pursuant to the last post regarding the power of water, Ellicott City, MD experienced what will most likely be labeled its second “1 in a 1,000 year” floods within the past two years on Sunday.  The discussion of re-building and how to mitigate this pattern has begun anew.  The storm standards and the manner by which to meet them is reminiscent of the debates that have continued since the devastation of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  For those in Ellicott City, one can only imagine the difficulty of sorting the emotional and economic impact of facing these decisions after such a relatively short period of time.

On a related note, NOAA has forecast a “…near-or above-normal 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.”  Importantly,  the first named storm of the 2018 season, Alberto, has already hit the Southeast portion of the U.S.

Both of these events (Ellicott City and Alberto) have cost lives and have created enormous damage in their respective areas of impact.

Shutter speed tricks cannot smooth that away.

Take care.

Weather Whiplash

May 24, 2018

BW photograph of a tree's shadow cast over a dry portion of Morgan Run rock field.

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

During the month of May 2018, we have had heat (several days of record-setting temperatures) followed by cold-or what certainly felt cold after those highs.  The comment about “felt” is a key clarification, as everything is relative.  The “just noticeable difference”, or Weber’s Law, is the amount of change required to be remarkable a certain percentage of the time.  While I am not sure the exact temperature gradient for the just noticeable difference, going from 90 degrees to the 60s or 70s was certainly noticeable.

BW photograph of Morgan Run after days of heavy rains.

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

Over the past week or so there has been much rain, which resulted in localized flooding.  The dry stone patch photographed in the lead image above is to the lower right corner in the above photo of Morgan Run and covered by water.

BW photograph of Big Hunting Creek after several days of heavy rains.

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

The above photograph is Big Hunting Creek, which is in Thurmont, Maryland.

This recent article from The Baltimore Sun summarizes the recent amounts of rain for various regions in Maryland.

BW photograph of water run-off after torrential rains.

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

Frederick, MD was hit especially hard.

The manner by which to creating the smooth, almost dreamy effect of the water will be explained below.  Importantly, though, while this can be beautiful for imagery, it very much masks the enormous power of so much water falling for such an extended period of time.

BW photograph of a section of tree trunk laying along an embankment after a flood.

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

That was quite a chunk of tree deposited along the bank of Morgan Run.

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

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

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

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

 

BW photograph of tree debris against an overpass after heavy rains.

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

Trees in rocky soil or those along river banks often have shallow root systems.  Given the saturation of the ground and the extraordinary height and weight that mature trees possess, once they start to list, gravity will then finish the job.  Should they fall into the water, the current will carry the trees downriver until blocked.  The above photographs were made in Thurmont, MD. and are multiple images of the same tree.

BW photograph of a sycamore root system after it has fallen against an overpass.

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

This sycamore was in Detour, MD.  Detour sits in a hollow along the Monocacy River-in 1972 when Hurricane Agnes went through the area, the town of Detour was itself inundated by the floodwaters of the Monocacy leaving its banks.

BW photograph of a fallen sycamore tree against an overpass.

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

While it was not evident that this occurred at this time, it was still hazardous to be out and about.

As an aside, while this post was being drafted, it was again raining hard.

Today, as the blog is being posted, it is sunny and in the 80s again.

Weather Whiplash.

Take care.

Photographic Note:  It takes a slow shutter speed to create the smoothed-out texture of the water shown here.  Having a voluminous amount of water that is running quite fast is a good start.  To that, add a smallish aperture (f/8 in these cases), both a polarizer (to remove glare) and a neutral density filter (to cut more light), and as low an ISO (200 or 400 in these cases-the extra stop provided by the higher ISO was sometimes desired to create a not-such-a-long shutter speed) as possible, and the shutter speed is easily reduced to about 30 seconds or so.

BW photograph looking down a street of row homes the morning after a rain.

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

During the weekend before the one just past, a cold front blew in triggering the first (very brief) thunderstorm of the season.  The next morning, it was 42 degrees with a stiff wind.  Many clouds remained, which created a nice ceiling for the strong early morning directional light.

BW photograph looking down onto Chimney Rock.

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

A bit later that same week, the temperature hit the low 90-degree mark in the Baltimore/Washington area for a couple of days, which set temperature records.  It felt literally and figuratively like we had bypassed Spring and moved right into Summer.  Two related articles (here and here) address this kind of volatility that may well become the norm going forward.  The term “weather whiplash” seems appropriately descriptive.

Interestingly, both of these photographs here were made by relying on a low-angled sun early in the morning to create the strong highlights and deep shadows.  The only noticeable difference between the two days was the ambient temperature, which the photographs do not convey:  it was much, much warmer when the second photo was made.

Take care.

 

Straws, man

May 2, 2018

BW photograph of a plastic cup and straw laying on a street.

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

This segment of NPR’s Here and Now is a worthwhile listen due to the scope of the problem and the available alternatives.  A reduction in this form of pollution is well worth the loss of this particular subject matter.

BW photograph of a Sprite bottle laying in the grass.

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

Unfortunately, there are many other forms of plastic trash of which to make images.

BW photograph of a plastic spoon laying on a brick sidewalk.

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

As such, addressing the overall issue of our throw away culture of convenience is of paramount importance-the discarded plastic straws, bottles, and utensils are just symptomatic of that larger issue.  The result of such a mindset is the bioaccumulation of plastic and other toxins in the environ.  Fortunately, the alternatives mentioned in the Here and Now report apply to other forms of trash as well.   It is useful to remember that the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a hierarchy-a reduction in the need for plastic disposable items by finding sustainable alternatives is by far the best option.

Take care.

Timeliness

April 26, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run rushing through some rocks.

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

Morgan Run is my go-to Zen place.  On most days, visits can be timed so that the area around the parking lot is devoid of people, or a relatively short walk in either direction from said lot will provide the desired seclusion.  As written many times before on this blog, the sound of the water running through the rocks is quite relaxing.  As a place to just sit and be, this is pretty nice.

So much so that I often get up and work early so that I can drink coffee and listen to NPR’s 1A program while driving to Morgan Run.  The other day, I did just that but was struck extremely hard by the contrast between the Zen of being there and the topic of that particular discussion, which revolved around the history of lynching in the U.S. and the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice-the discussion can be heard here.  (NPR also did another report on the Memorial.)  One can argue that the timeliness of this particular visit and that particular discussion occurred just as it should have to achieve maximum impact.  The same can also be said for the opening of the Memorial.

“Timeliness” takes on a broader cultural perspective in the sense that is it both well past time for such reflection and a time requiring such reflection.  Indeed,  it has been just over 50 years since the passing of The Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is discussed here.  After having listened to that program, the reading of  this report is a logical follow-up.  In addition, Starbucks is closing its coffee stores for several hours on May 29th so as to provide training to address “racial bias education”, as reported here.  Finally, the Supreme Court heard the arguments regarding the latest version of the President’s travel ban.

The history of prejudice, discrimination, implicit bias, and racism, etc., all of which are enhanced by confirmation bias, only makes the now more disheartening.  Socialization that normalizes those kinds of behaviours is exactly what allows for their continuance.  The same can be said for willful ignorance or lack of attention.  I hear with a degree of regularity that the pervasive ugliness and conflict reflected in the news is one reason to not listen to broadcasts or read the papers.  Quite honestly, all of that is one reason I go to Morgan Run for those periods of Zen.  It is important, though, to recognize that such peacefulness is difficult to maintain outside of that bubble if one does pay attention to current events.  While it is fundamentally necessary to take care of oneself and find that peace, it is also important to think beyond oneself to the larger issues at hand and address them accordingly.

Take care.