July 5, 2017

BW photograph of buildings and a water tower.

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

On August 21, 2017 there will be an approximately 70-mile-wide band of the U.S. that extends from Oregon across to South Carolina, which will experience a total solar eclipse.  This discussion from NPR’s 1A is definitely worth a listen as the guests discuss the particulars-including the important, specific, instructions for the viewing of this event.  One would really not like to literally fry one’s eyes, right?

BW photograph of palettes against a brick wall.

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

“Heliophysics” is the term used for the study of the interaction between the sun and space, as described here.  Understanding and paying attention to the effect of light is the absolute essence of photography.  Without the direct light of the sun, the above two photographs would be much less interesting.  The strong highlights and deep shadows are what provide the sense of texture and depth to the images.  Were this an overcast day, or even a different time on the same day, these photographs would not have been able to be produced in this form without the use of artificial light.

BW photograph of a bulldog sunning itself in a window.

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

Such conditions also produce the perfect time for a nap.

Take care.


Spring Colour

May 14, 2017

Colour photograph of a decaying log in front of lichen covered rocks and some bright green leaves.

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

This is the photograph on which I was working when the rain began to fall as explained in the previous post.  I do not like to mix BW and colour photographs in the same entry, and this one really did need to be presented in colour.

Take care.


April 18, 2017

BW photograph of various trees against a clear sky.

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

A clear blue sky is a pleasant sight and a joy to experience…

BW photograph of sycamore trees against a clear sky.

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

…today was that kind of day.  Earlier this week, Sunday night into Monday, it rained and rained-at times it pounded; at others, it was just a drizzle.

BW photograph of a large white cloud after a rain.

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

The latter part of Monday afternoon, though, saw the sun open up and create an environ ripe for the development of certain cloud formations.

Different climatic conditions produce different types of clouds, and this process is described in The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History and Culture of Clouds.  When I was primarily a natural history photographer, one of the photogs I followed was John Shaw-I read all of his books and learned a great deal about the art and craft of nature photography.  One of Mr. Shaw’s main points has consistently been that knowing the biology of the subjects being photographed would lead one to be a better nature photographer.  Therefore, I collected and read many different field guides, and that perspective is what led me to The Cloudspotter’s Guide and other cloud-related resources.  Clouds occupy more than just an environmental niche and so the subtitle of The Cloudspotter’s Guide is certainly fitting-it is a highly recommended read.  There is also a functional side to this knowledge-learning to read clouds and paying attention to weather systems helps keep one prepared-that, too, is highly recommended, especially in the era of climate change.

I must admit now, though, that the technical details as to the science behind cloud formations is less interesting.  Part of the reason for this is because a fair amount of that knowledge remains and has been reinforced by attending to weather patterns over the years.  However, the larger issue is one of simple aesthetics-the beauty and majesty of clouds as they exist are captivating in their own right.  I like watching them. I like photographing them.

Get outside and look up.

Take care.

Turbulence and Zen

April 9, 2017

BW photograph of blurry, turbulant water.

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

Much has changed in the past few months-and especially in the past few weeks.  Globally, the war in Syria and its escalation have been a focus.  The increasing one-upmanship involving North Korea gets its attention as well.  Nationally, the Senate eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations thereby nullifying the opposition party (whichever that may be at a given point in time).  Climate change efforts have been rolled back.  While the Affordable Care Act was left in place for the time being, there are renewed plans to re-visit that as well…the 10 Essential Health Benefits continue to be at the apex of the argument.  There are varying degrees of unpleasantness when contemplating the next steps in these, and other, developments.

Beyond being an active citizen and donating time, money, food, and clothing to the organizations of choice and contacting politicians to express one’s views, how does one cope?

One way is to remain blissfully ignorant and pay no attention to these types of issues.  While there is a bit of relief that can come from this, especially when feeling overwhelmed by the rapidity of the events, it is important to recognize that this approach leaves one vulnerable to being “shocked” when there is a major global or national event that mandates attention.  No, one must first be aware of what is happening before one can decide how to feel and respond.

BW photograph of small stones on a larger rock lit by contrasty light.

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

Finding solitude and quiet, forest bathing, if you will, is an excellent antidote to the turbulence described above.  The stones in the above photograph appear to have been placed as they are, however, that does not diminish the tranquility that comes from sitting and observing the interplay between the sun and clouds as they produce or remove the shadows cast by the stones themselves.

BW photograph of an oak leaf in a shallow puddle on a rock.

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

The stillness of a fallen leaf in a shallow puddle can produce the same effect.

BW photograph of a fallen tree in contrasty light.

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

It is also soothing to watch the sunrise as it spreads light across a mountainside.

BW photograph of a fallen tree in contrasty light.

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

It was a bit below freezing when the above two photographs were made-just enough to make exposed skin tingle, the throat to burn when breathing, and the nose to run.  Still, the warmth of the sun and deep quiet of the wood was at once stimulating and calming.  The only sounds were the occasional hammering of woodpeckers and the crunch of solitary footsteps.

Zen indeed-at least for the time out there.  The real key is maintaining that perspective when returning to the day-to-day.

Take care.

Photographic Note:  This hard, contrasty, light is the opposite of the soft light exemplified and discussed in a previous post.  Hard light is what produces the contrast between highlights and shadows and therefore illuminates the subject’s texture.



Change in Weather

April 6, 2017

Colour photograph of Redbud tree and rocks in the rain at Morgan Run.

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

The rain has returned and the temperature has dropped a bit.  Please note that this is not a complaint, especially given the weather to the south of this area.  The amount of severe weather that has occurred nationally and globally thus far this year is quite a concern, especially given the current rollback of climate change initiatives in the U.S.  The storms forecast for the Mid-Atlantic region today are from the same storm system as reported in the link, and could bring severe thunderstorms and hail locally.  It it pouring rain and the thunder is rumbling as this is being written…

From a photographic perspective,  rainy days provide the perfect opportunity for making images of flora.  The overcast sky mutes contrast, and the rain enriches the colour palette.  The use of a saturated film emulation, like Fuji’s Velvia as applied here, certainly adds to the effect.  That is also the reason for making this a colour photograph-even with the very nice BW Acros emulation, this particular scene would appear quite flat due to the predominance of mid-tones in the image.  Yes, sometimes colour is a better choice.  It is nice to have the flexibility.

Take care.


Signs of Spring

February 28, 2017

Colour photograph of the Thurmont Vista Trail.

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

Tomorrow is March 1, and the forecast is for temps well into the 70s.  For the record, the first day of Spring 2017 is March 20th.

The photograph above is the colour version of the second image in the last post.  While BW photography captures the majority of my interest these days, and perhaps always did, certain subjects/scenes really do look better in colour.  Such is the case here.  The various reds and greens provide greater character to the scene than does the various shades of grey in the other photograph.  It also seems much more Spring-like due to the colour.

This highlights the difference, photographically, between hue and tone.  Hue, in this context, refers to colour.  For this image, the main issue are the reds and greens.  Tone, on the other hand, is how much light is absorbed or reflected.  In this case, the reds and greens are both pretty much the same-about medium in nature.  As a result, there is not much separation between the two hues in the previous photograph.  One way to address that when using BW capture is to use filters.  A red filter will lighten reds and darken greens.  A green filter will do the opposite.  I used a green filter for the BW version.

One of the real advantages of digital cameras is the ability to switch to different types of capture-either colour, or BW, or both while using the same camera.  Many cameras also offer film emulations of the media from the (mostly) bygone days.  (As an aside, film does seem to be enjoying a bit of a comeback.)  The BW photographs for the posts thus far in 2017 have been made using Fuji’s Acros emulation-the colour photograph above is Fuji’s Velvia emulation.  Back in the film days, Velvia was my primary choice for most subjects and scenes-the saturation in the hue was quite pleasing.

Choice is good.  Flexibility is an artistic asset.  Give it some thought and experiment.

Oh, and weather permitting, get outside.

Take care.


December 30, 2016

BW photograph of a tree's shadow against a brightly lit brick wall.

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

Black and white photography is often about contrast.  The fancy term for this chiaroscuro, which means “the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art” (Webster’s New American Dictionary).  Visually, the highlights are brightly illuminated and white or close-to-white whereas the shadows remain a deeper going-to-black or black.  Ideally, depending on the intent, a range of greys occupies the middle-tones.  Film noir makes great use of this type of lighting and is one the reasons for that genre being a favourite-The Maltese Falcon is an example.

This is the eve of New Year’s Eve and I really cannot think of anything profound to say, other than that 2016 certainly presented its challenges-a statement that is much more clichéd than insightful.  So, I will close the year’s posts with this:  when growing up I had a subscription to a magazine entitled Highlights for Children.  Inside, one of the pages contained a drawing that included a series of hidden objects to locate.  Find the squirrel in the above photograph.

Take care and have a safe and Happy New Year.