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.

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Wired

February 1, 2018

BW photograph of telephone poles and wires.

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

“Wired” is another word with multiple meanings and/or connotations.

BW photograph of cables running along a brick wall.

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

Its primary usage is in the description of being connected.  The photographs herein illustrate that concept.  Of course, with the advent of harnessing radio waves, the concept of “wireless” came into being.  This, then, evolved into cellular communication.  Imagine if your cellphone needed a wired connection…not as convenient, eh?  That would also be so twentieth century.  Still, when the battery is drained, what do you do?  Cellphones, though, rely on wired towers and if they are compromised, say during a major storm, then that type of communication ceases.  Loosing one’s phone is another way to make that happen as well.

Basic human development is a fundamental topic in introductory courses for both Psychology and Sociology.  The human brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons.  Those billions of neurons make trillions of connections to other neurons, which allows for the electrochemical neurocommunication that is the basis for everything we do.  This is sometimes referred to as the “wiring” of the brain.  Right now, some of those neurons are popping off allowing me to hit the right key (or, on occasion, not-for that there is spell check, right?).  The same kind of processes are at play when reading this text and viewing the photographs.

The neurons in the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for the so-called executive functions (critical thinking, judgment, reasoning, the prediction of future consequences for current behaviour, etc.) are not fully wired until one matures into the early 20s.  Hence one of the reasons teenagers can be so impulsive and spontaneous-this documentary from Frontline is worth a look.  The part of the brain that would say “No, do not do that” or “Think carefully about the consequences of this decision” is not as yet fully connected.  Here is an analogy:  imagine if the wires in these photographs were somehow compromised.  What happens to their ability to transmit the signal?  The action initiated at one end of the line does not make it to the intended destination.  Full communication ceases.  Information is not available.  Problems might ensue.

BW photograph of a trashed flip phone.

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

We are born with those billions of neurons, and the brain essentially wants to be as efficient as possible in organizing those cells.  The neurons that are used make connections to other neurons and subsequently form neural networks, which makes our complex behaviour possible.  Neurons that are not used wither and die-a process referred to as “pruning”.  There is a second round of neuron formation (neurogenesis) that occurs in adolescence.  Once again, though, those unused neurons will be pruned away, leaving the brain with its fundamental “adult” configuration.  All of this is much more complicated and subject to many more influences than described here-please do give the Frontline information linked above a look.  Indeed, one could spend a lifetime studying this stuff, at which point one might be referred to as a “neuroanatomist”.

BW photograph of a trashed keypad from a flip phone.

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

The connection between cellphones and the wiring of the brain?

It is not without reason that cellphones were introduced early in this post.  There is concern over childhood use of these devices, and that interest takes on at least a couple of forms:  one is the interaction between the cellphone’s radio waves and the human nervous system, which is the focus of this study.  The use of smartphones during childhood has others focused on the risk of compromised skill and social development.  What happens to unused neurons?  I mentioned spell check earlier.  What happens to one’s learned ability to spell if a device detects and fixes those errors for the user?  Indeed, what is the overall, long-term impact of such technology on the wiring of the developing brain, and how does that, then, translate to one’s behaviour?  Time will tell.

Oh, regarding another of the Oxford Living Dictionary’s “wired” definitions (“in a nervous, tense, or edgy state”)?  The preceding post and the reference to shinrin yoku addresses that…

Take care.

The Sound of Winter

January 20, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a recent snowfall in a cold spell.

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

It was quite cold a couple of days ago-in the teens, even at mid-day.  At Morgan Run, it seemed much colder due to being in a bit of a hollow and close to the water.

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a recent snowfall in a cold spell.

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

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a recent snowfall in a cold spell.

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

Under such conditions, sound seems to be magnified.  The running of the water is just that much more loud and crisp.  According to this source, that effect may be one of perception due to the relative lack of other ambient noise, or it may, in fact, be due to the lower air temps.

BW photograph of a lone tree against a large rock with layered snow.

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

Given that this area is also bracketed by a hill on one side and a large rock formation on the other-the slope of the former can be seen in upper left corner of the third photograph herein, while the latter is depicted just above-the sound waves are most certainly bouncing around a bit.

Whether the result of psychology or physics, the effect makes for an enhanced experience.

BW photograph of a rock covered in snow.

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

BW photograph of layered rocks and roots covered in snow.

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

Then there is the unmistakable cracking of ice underfoot-that is enough to release a bit of adrenaline into the system.  While the edges of Morgan Run were not that deep, going through the ice into the water would be quite uncomfortable.  That would be a perception of a different sort.

Take care.

Light

December 31, 2017

BW photograph of Morgan Run looking upstream.

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

To a certain mindset, 2017 was a pessimist’s dream.  Here’s looking to the light of what could be in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Wandering

November 26, 2017

BW photograph of some stores on Front Street in Bath, ME.

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

Wandering is the close relative to walkability.  To “wander”, in my mind, is to move about aimlessly, or, more-to-the-point, to change direction as needed based on what becomes of interest.  A place needs to have walkability in order to feel comfortable when wandering about.  Both of those characteristics are loaded in value judgments-from a sociological perspective, values are used to determine what is right/wrong, good/bad, and/or acceptable/unacceptable.  Someone who appreciates the hustle and bustle of, say, New York City, may be on the right side of those hash marks with regard to the views expressed here.

BW photograph of Front Street in the early morn. Bath, ME.

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

Walkability, and therefore the ability to wander, is based on a fundamental feel for a place-travel photographers often talk about the “spirit of place”.  That feel and spirit is generated by a variety of components; again, one’s values are the key factor here.  While walkability and wandering can be applied to a larger city, or at least certain parts of larger cities, this is much more of a small town experience.  My preference is for a main street (and all the more nostalgic if it is actually Main Street) along which are smaller, independently owned merchandisers among which to shop and eat; more about this is a minute.

BW photograph of a table and chair on the sidewalk in Bath, ME.

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

It helps to have brick sidewalks, although the more ubiquitous concrete will do.  Some trees lining the way make for a pleasant experience.  Being able to move about at a leisurely pace without being trampled by others moving with a purpose is critical.

BW photograph of the side/back of Bath Savings, in Bath, ME.

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

It goes without saying that pedestrians really do need to have the right-of-way without the risk of unpleasant gestures.  Speaking of pedestrians, it definitely adds to the pleasure when passersby acknowledge a greeting and are not buried within technology.

With regard to the shops, there are two types of utmost importance-and, actually, most likely, in this order of priority:  a good coffee shop and a good bookstore-extra satisfaction comes from the availability of used books.  If there were a third type, it would be good restaurants that have selections for healthy vegetarian dining.  That one is somewhat optional as one can always obtain food elsewhere.  The “independently owned” criteria applies greatly to each.  Yes, I do visit Dunkin’ Donuts and Barnes and Noble with a degree of regularity, however, we are talking about walkability and wandering.  I expect and do neither at those establishments.

BW photograph of the riverfront off Commerce Street in Bath, ME.

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

BW photograph of the neighborhood nearby, and the crane, at Bath Iron Works in Bath. ME.

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

BW photograph of the trestles for a bridge over the Kennebec River in Bath, ME.

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

The photographs herein are from Bath, ME-a town that absolutely meets all of the criteria above.  Bath is a place where it is quite comfortable to walk about and wander with a cup of coffee in hand.  Once that part of the day has concluded, the settling down with a good book can follow…

Take care.

“Take Me Home…”

October 25, 2017

BW photograph of a leaf-covered road in WVa.

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

“… country roads.”

John Denver’s song has a brief, but pivotal role in the recent Alien: Covenant.  It is also the basis of a sentiment that must, on some level, eventually put a buzz into any traveler’s ear.

BW photograph of an old barn in WVa.

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

The question then becomes what, when, and where is “home”?  Is that a physical or emotional place? Both? Neither?  How about a state of mind?  However it is defined, “home” must indeed be clearly defined.  Otherwise, how do you know when you have arrived? How do you gain a sense of being grounded?

On the other hand, how important is that?

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

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

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

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

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

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

Put me in the mountains, and I am there.

As an aside, the photographs contained herein were made in West Virginia.

Take care.

Indigenous Peoples Day

October 9, 2017

BW photograph of the early morn across a boardwalk at Bethany Beach.

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

This discussion on WYPR’s Midday program is an important examination of Columbus Day and the movement for Indigenous Peoples Day.  The conversation speaks to selective attention and perception-this is especially critical when the argument is made about the protection of “heritage and history” when many do not really know either.  That, by extension, becomes an indictment of the manner and content used in the teaching of history.

It also begs the question:  by which criteria are people to be judged and celebrated, if they are to be judged and celebrated at all?

Take care.

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