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.

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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.

 

Which?

April 2, 2018

BW photograph-is it water or clouds?

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

One of the issues with abstract photography is determining exactly what is being viewed.

Is the above a photograph of wispy clouds in the sky or the ripples of water in a running stream?

Does it matter?

Take care.

Interaction

March 27, 2018

BW photograph of a wall with a diagonal downspout in contrasty light.

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

There are several locations that I photograph repeatedly-this wall is one of them.

Part of the reasoning for this is accessibility, but the overriding factor has to do with the character of the structure (the brickwork, windows, and diagonal downspout) and the ambient light as it interacts with those elements.

Walls impart a sense of permanence and stability (as any follower of current geopolitics understands, they also most certainly serve as a means of separation and enclosure).  The light, however, is anything but.  For example, the shadows are quite well-defined, and they are offset by bright highlights.  This combination is created by a very strong, very direct, light source-the sun was bright and the sky clear on the day the photograph was made.   The current conditions are exactly the opposite-the sky is uniformly overcast as it is moving on toward rain.  Therefore, if this wall were to be photographed at the moment this is being written, the distinct film noir look seen here would be missing.

I very much prefer this type of lighting for this type of subject.

Take care.

Pretty

February 16, 2018

BW photograph of trees silhouetted at twilight.

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

After having made two trips in New Orleans in post-Katrina 2008, I had decided that making pretty photographs was a waste of my time.  There are two very subjective aspects in that sentence:  the first, “pretty”, is open to interpretation.  My initial photographic interest was the natural world-grand scenics and the intimate microcosm of mountains, flowers, and critters.  Having been to the Lower 9th Ward and other areas that were still wrecked three years after the storm had made an impression-“pretty” images were of much less interest.  The second, “…waste of my time.” is not saying “a waste of time period“; it was fine for others to make such photographs.   I wanted to make socially relevant photographs to illustrate a number of concerns that I felt were important-they could be largely grouped under the heading of the human impact on the natural world.  Hence my emphasis on trash, for example.

A decade later, I have found myself to be increasing frustrated and disillusioned, and, yes, angry, at the state of the world; particularly U.S. politics and the role it plays in local, national, and global events.  We have had yet another mass shooting in a school.  That makes something like 30 such events since the start of 2018, let alone what came before.  Previous posts have detailed my concerns over the political response to climate change.  Trash continues to proliferate.  And so on.  While Steven Pinker does have a point, as does this article, the examples cited here dull the shine of such information, especially when they have a direct impact on a given individual.

BW photograph of trees silhouetted at twilight with clouds in the background.

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

All of which leads me back to “pretty”.  That is still very much a subjective term.  The photographs included here fit that definition for me.  I very much like B&W photographs that have a full range of tones from deep blacks to bright whites.   It is also helpful to remember the emotions experienced at the time the shutter was pressed.  Watching the clouds move across the sky and the manner by which the light changed in response to that movement induced a sense of calm and wonder.  For a few moments, the info in the paragraph above became irrelevant.

That does not mean those issues can be ignored or obfuscated.  Doing so is, after all, what allows them to worsen.  I will most certainly continue to make photographs to illustrate that which is of concern to me.  At the same time,  I am returning to my roots (which seems to be an appropriate phrase for the intent here, literally and figuratively) as it is quite useful to one’s well-being to find some beauty and peace when possible.

Take care.

Winter 2018

February 13, 2018

BW photograph of the low winter sun against an overcast sky with silhouetted trees.

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

It has been an odd winter with regard to the temperature and forms of precipitation.  The rain promised by the overcast sky in the above photograph did eventually fall.

(Photographer’s Note:  The above photograph was deliberately underexposed so as to add a bit more “moodiness” to its feel.  The clouds were not so full of moisture so as to be quite that dark.)

BW photograph of an icy yard with clouds in the background.

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

We have also had two decent ice storms (so far).  That caveat was added as we still have the rest of February and all of March yet to come.

BW photograph of an ice-laden pine branch with a Christmas tree ball.

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

Both of these were enough to create problematic driving conditions and altered school schedules…

BW photograph of an ice covered tree with a contrail in the distance.

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

enough so that the thought of being on a plane to somewhere else was quite attractive.

The “oddness” mentioned in the first sentence?  The forecast is for temps in the 60s later this week.

We do still have the rest of February and all of March to go.

Take care.

Remnants Redux

December 27, 2017

BW photograph of the sun shining through trees.

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

The angular intricacy of leafless trees provide a striking graphic when silhouetted against the low winter sun.

BW photograph of a fallen autumn leaf in water.

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

The leaves themselves appear to be much more delicate and vulnerable-an effect that seems to be enhanced once they are on the ground.

Be sure to look up and down…

Take care.