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.

 

Fall

October 6, 2019

 

BW photograph of a sunstar.

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

A few days ago, a weather forecaster claimed that fall had finally arrived.

BW photograph of sunlit trees in autumn.

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

With early morning temperatures in the low 40s, that certainly seemed to be case.

BW photograph of a fallen autumn maple leaf laying atop a rock.

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

BW photograph of some dead leaves atop a large rock with running water in the background.

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

BW photograph of a fallen autumn maple leaf laying atop a rock.

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

BW photograph of some fallen autumn leaves laying atop a rock with a small falls in the background.

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

BW photograph of dead autumn leaves laying atop a rock.

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

Another bit of evidence is the number of leaves making their way to the ground.  There is a degree of serenity that can be had when sitting still and watching their slow descent, alighting with barely a sound.

Take care.

Deflated

October 5, 2019

BW photograph of a broken tree overlapping a large rock.

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

There is something quite forlorn about this tree’s appearance.  It is as if it had become fatigued, deflated really, and, one would imagine, with a deep sigh simply laid down over the top of a large rock.  It had had enough.

As time passes, the trunk and limbs reach a point of nakedness as their bark dries out and falls away.

In many, many, years it will no longer be visible.

By that time, who would remember?

Take care.

The Blob

September 29, 2019

BW photograph of dappled sunlight on a brick wall.

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

No, this does not refer to the classic 1950s sci-fi movie nor the more recent John Carpenter re-make. Instead, this is a reference to a mass of hot water that has again formed in the Pacific Ocean.  As per that linked report, should the prevailing weather conditions continue, this much warmer water has the potential for impacts up-and-down the aquatic food chain as various species are unable to survive the temperature increase.  There is also a risk for the return of toxic algae blooms.  Both of these create issues for the fishing industry.

BW photograph of dead autumn leaves laying atop a rock.

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

NPR also did this story regarding the recent U.N. report, which contains information about these hotter pockets of water as well as a broader range of water-related problems, which include the melting of glaciers and ice sheets-here is the U.N. report.  This report details the degree of dependence and risk faced by the populations living in various geographic locations around the world as the planet warms.  To underline this point, please give this report about the Mont Blanc glacier.

It is so easy to get lost in the latest news of the day, especially given the political systems in place worldwide, and the subsequent issues they create.  This roller-coaster ride can be quite fatiguing when followed closely.  Meanwhile, the inexorable degradation of the planet continues.  As the Amazon rain forest burns, more CO2 is released, and those trees are no longer available for CO2 absorption.  As permafrost melts, greenhouse gases are released.   As environmental protections are eliminated, more damage is done.  The seas are rising.  They are also getting hotter.

It is evermore important for individuals to make concerted efforts to reduce carbon footprints.  At the same time, it is evermore necessary for pressures to be brought to bear on politicians for the larger systemic changes.

All of this flies in the face of nationalism.  In a speech to the U.N., President Trump openly advocated a rejection of globalism.  He has pulled the U.S. from the Paris Accords (not to mention other global agreements). Climate change is the prototypical problem requiring global cooperation and action as rising seas do not respect borders.  Droughts do not respect borders.  Larger and more powerful hurricanes and typhoons do not respect borders.

If you have not already heard Greta Thunberg’s speech to the U.N., it is worth a listen.

Take care.

Dorian

September 2, 2019

BW photograph of water rushing between rocks.

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

Hurricane Dorian blasted parts of the Bahamas yesterday-please pay close attention to the wind speeds generated by the storm as reported here.

BW photograph of debris collected against a tree after a flood.

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

At the time, Dorian was classified as a Category 5 hurricane, which is currently the highest level of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  As with many of the hurricanes of the 2018 season, the amount of rainfall being generated-as much as 30 inches in some areas in the Bahamas-is also a major concern.

BW photograph of a branch caught in overhead powerlines.

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

Last year, the idea of creating a new level, Category 6, was discussed due to the increased intensity of the hurricanes in this era of climate change and the warming of the oceans. That designation has not as yet been made official.

BW photograph of a branch caught in overhead powerlines-closer view.

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

Dorian’s impact of the U.S. remains to be seen and experienced, although it appears that she may scour the coast from Florida to the Carolinas in the coming days.  Evacuations have already been ordered, and it appears prudent to take heed of them as applicable.

Given that Dorian has had wind gusts of up to 220 mph and rainfall totals that could reach 30 inches, storms such as this will have far reaching consequences.  Building codes will need to be updated, insurance rates will most likely increase, some geographic locations will no longer be sustainable for human habitation.

Ironically, this storm arrives at a time when the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has proposed rollbacks to the regulations of methane emissions.  Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than is CO2-this is one of the main issues here.  As such, it also another example of the short-term economic thinking in support of the fossil fuel industry, which is the modus operandi of the current administration.  That these rollbacks are being proposed by the same agency that brought us the Clean Air Act demonstrates just how far afield that agency has gone under this administration.  Please be sure to read through the info from that link as it details the manner by which “global warming emissions” have been determined to be included in this legislation.  That not all of the multi-national energy companies support this rollback is at least, at least, some good news in this story.

However, tell that to those in the Bahamas or the areas that will be hit in the coming week.

Should one be in the path of this, or any major weather event, the government does have a web site for what to include in a go-bag, which is a key part of emergency preparation.

Take care.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S NOTE:  The photos included in this post have no relation to Hurricane Dorian-the first is one of the normal level of water flow at Morgan Run.  The second is a debris pile from an earlier flood at Morgan Run.  The last two are the result of trees that were cleared for a new building project.  They all, though, do serve as metaphors of what powerful storms can leave behind.

Choices

August 25, 2019

BW photograph of Devil's Den on a clear morning.

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

The other night’s thunderstorm cleared the humidity and knocked down the temperatures-nice conditions to be outside.  The above photograph is of Devil’s Den, which is on the Gettysburg battlefield.  This was the composition I had in mind on the drive there-the rock formations appear as giant stepping stones leading from the lower left to the upper right, which pulls the eye across the frame.  The lichen on the rocks contrasts nicely with the middle tones of the rock and the darkness of the sky (which was created by using the red filter in the Acros film simulation and a polarizer), and serve as a leading line that also crosses the frame.  The morning sun was high enough to showcase the textures, but not direct enough to wash them away.  Absolutely perfect conditions for this photo-that is one reason to pay attention to weather forecasts and climatic conditions.  This scene would look very different with a uniformly overcast, grayish, sky.  Most importantly, it would not have yielded the desired image.

BW photograph looking down a bridge span on a foggy morning.

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

Aside from the obvious difference in subject matter in these two photos, the ambient conditions are also quite different.  This photograph was made the morning after the one above, and was created prior to the sun clearing the trees.  It was cool and foggy, so the light was quite soft-the relative absence of clearly defined shadows is indicative of this, as is the whitish sky in the distance.  The converging lines are what pulls the eye through this photo and conveys a sense of distance.  This is a fairly pedestrian (meaning that this is a common angle) image, but one that I like nonetheless.

BW photograph of a section of bridge highlighting the rivet work.

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

A detail image of the same bridge highlighting the rail and diagonal span.  In one sense, the diagonal movement is the opposite of that of the eye when reading English-that is, it leads the eye from the right to the left and so introduces just a bit of tension to the image.  It is also possible, though, to view that same line as moving on a downward diagonal from the left to the right-this restores a sense of balance.  It is important to note that some cultures read right to left, which reverses the points being made here.  Adding in the flat railing introduces another dimension.  When making the photograph, I saw the flat railing as leading the eye from left to right (that “reading” point again) across the bottom of the frame, with the span then making a sharp upward movement back to the left and out of the frame.  This, too, can be reversed.  The downward diagonal to the right, then flat across the frame to the left.  In any case, the vertical tension wires close the frame at the left, essentially creating a triangle.  A third option is to view both the diagonal and the horizontal as meeting at a point to the lower right.  It can be interesting to pay attention to the initial response created by the mind’s eye when viewing a photograph.  Should the image lend itself, it is worth forcing the brain to take a different look.  From a compositional standpoint, the photographer does well to consider the manner by which to engage the viewer-is there to be a focus (literally and figuratively) on one point in a photograph, or is the viewer encouraged to roam through the entirety of the scene?  Both have their applications-the photographer has to decide.

Finally, there are no people in these photographs.  That, too, was by design.  In fact, I had to wait in the making of the lead photo for some visitors to clear the area.  Frequent readers (thank you very much!) will have taken notice that the images presented are most often characterized by that lack of personage.  This is one reason for arising early and getting to where I want to go-folks tend to sleep later.  I like the emotional impact of that absence-it can be possible to interject feelings as disparate as loneliness or solitude depending on the current disposition of the viewer.  Again, what is included or excluded is up to the photographer.

Choices must be made.  This is part of what separates photographs from snapshots-not that there is anything wrong with the latter.

Take care.