Separation

June 21, 2018

BW photograph of a No Trespassing sign laying on the ground.

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

Over the past few days, the separation of children from their parents/families at the U.S. border is an issue that has been widely covered and discussed.  The latest controversy also (again) brings to the fore the legacy of U.S. immigration policy.  Significantly, the implementation of detention and deportation policies appear to often hinge on keys words contained in or absent from previous legislation.  For example, former Assistant Attorney Leon Fresco points out the importance of the word “unaccompanied” being excluded from the Flores case, which was decided in 1996.  (The meaning of words and their contextual significance is the basis for the Symbolic Interactionism theory in Sociology.)

With regard to Sociology, one of the significant agents of socialization (those institutions charged with the transmission of culture from one generation to the next) is media.  How one thinks and/or feels about this separation, and immigration in general, is influenced by the sources of information to which one pays attention.  This report from NPR discusses the differing manner by which the current immigration issue is being framed by various news outlets.  What is being highlighted here is that difference-the same story is being explained/analyzed by competing belief systems.  That which is held to be “true” or “fake news” is most likely influenced by confirmation bias-the tendency to select and judge the credibility of sources based on those that contain information supporting pre-existing views.  Quite simply, we tend to agree with those sources that present information consistent with our views.

In a separate report, NPR addressed the potential implications of the stress-induced trauma that occurs under such conditions.  Given the age of the children, the plasticity of the brain during those developmental stages, and the magnitude of the emotional and biochemical response from being forcibly separated from one’s family, this is an issue of concern.  One would do well to put aside political views and attend to this as a humanitarian issue.  Indeed, the U.N. has called such separations illegal, and the living former first ladies have also condemned the action.

Two bills to address immigration are scheduled for a House vote later today-both would legislate the keeping of families together.  (The president finally did utilize his formerly denied executive power to do the same.  That, however, does not ameliorate the issue.)  Given the deep political divides regarding immigration, it is doubtful that either of these bills will pass.  Therefore, the immigration impasse, one based on the implementation of zero tolerance, will, in all likelihood, continue.

That we are a nation of immigrants appears to be considered irrelevant.

Take care.

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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.

Need for Zen

May 8, 2018

BW photograph of flowing water.

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

There are some days that require a larger dose of Zen than others.

BW photograph of a branch over flowing water.

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

Today is one of those days.

BW photograph of flowing water.

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

Being an informed citizen brings with it the risk of riding the roller coaster of daily news.  Much like the “weather whiplash” moniker from the last post, that phrase would appear to be applicable for many other subjects as well.  Simply replace “weather” with whatever stories dominate a given day.  Chances are, within a few days, there will be something else that comes to the fore and demands one’s attention.

There are at least two dangers with such a rapid cycle of news.  The first is the criticality of the displaced issues being lost-out of sight, out of mind.  The second is the numbness that accompanies an overload of one’s senses.

As such, it is evermore important to maintain an individuated sense of balance and perspective.  This includes recognizing the options available for legitimate action.

Tuning out is not a productive long-term option.

Take care.

Earth Day 2018

April 22, 2018

BW photograph of a strongly lit house.

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

Today is Earth Day.  Coincidentally, it is also a nice, spring day.  The preceding sentence was included as we have run the weather gamut over the past few weeks.  On the day when the above photograph was made, the temperature eventually reached 87 degrees.  That seemed to be a bit too much heat coming too soon, especially after days when the temperatures maxed-out in the 40s and 50s.

BW photograph looking up the Hog Rock Trail on a foggy morn.

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

The following day presented entirely different conditions, as displayed above and below:

BW photograph of trees enveloped in fog.

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

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a heavy rain-four rocks provide some framing for the water.

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

The much cooler temperatures brought on the fog and an eventual torrent of rain and wind.  Morgan Run once again overran its banks.

A couple of weekends ago was spent in Ithaca, New York…

BW photograph of trees laying beside the Buttermilk Falls Rim Trail after a snowfall.

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

where the morning temps were about 22 degrees-that adequately preserved the snow that had fallen the day before.

BW photograph of a crushed Nestle water bottle in a parking lot.

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

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is to call an end to plastic pollution-more can be read about that here, and doing so is an important initiative.  Indeed, a drive through the mountains of Pennsylvania yesterday showed many out collecting trash along the roadways.  At the same time, Earth Day is also an auspicious day in which to be reminded of the need to keep a focus on the larger issue of climate change, which is actually the reason for the weather-related photographs in this post.  Indeed, last year set a record for weather-related losses as per this report from NOAA.  Yes, reducing one’s individual impact on the environ is a benefit and is to be encouraged.  Taking the time to collect the detritus left by others is certainly helpful.  However, the intersection of politics, pollution, and climate change can not be ignored and are addressed in this article about the E.P.A. under Scott Pruitt.

One day is not enough.

Take care.

 

Winter/Spring 2018

March 26, 2018

BW photograph of a low stone wall at Culp's Hill in Gettysburg, PA.

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

The sun was out, the winds calm, and the temp was relatively warm, so I took a drive around the battlefield in Gettysburg, PA.  While doing so, there were two thoughts that kept bouncing around in my head.

BW photograph of a tree casting a shadow on Cemetary Hill in Gettysburg, PA.

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

The first was that my perception of “winter” has changed.  Before explaining, though, it is useful to remember the difference and relationship between “sensation” and “perception”.  Sensation is the data-the stimuli that the brain converts to impulses for processing.  In this case, the sensations are the calendar date, the recent snow, and the ambient temperatures.  Perception, on the other hand, is the meaning given to the sensory data.  Given that March 20th was the first day of Spring, the perception is that Winter was supposed to be over.  It also seems that climate change has altered the timing of the weather patterns, but not the celestial movement:  that March is now the February of the past in terms of cold and snow.  Indeed, it was painful to watch robins trying to cope with the snow as it was falling a few days ago.  Their biological imperative has also not as yet adjusted.

BW photograph of a tree at Cemetary Hill In Gettysburg, PA.

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

The other thought was the irony of listening to NPR’s coverage of  March For Our Lives while being within the geography of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

We can do much to alter the forward trajectory of both climate change and gun violence depending on the choices we make.

Take care.

(Brief) Road Trip

March 15, 2018

BW photograph of some of the rocks at the entrance to Harpers Ferry.

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

The eastern portion of the U.S. was hit with three nor’easters in a bit under three weeks recently.  New England felt the brunt of most of these, especially the most recent, but the Mid-Atlantic has had colder temperatures, higher winds, and periodic rain/snow showers over the same period.

BW photograph of trees and a lampost at the Harpers Ferry Visitors Center parking lot.

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

So, when there was a bit of a break in those three conditions, it was a good time to squeeze in the facsimile of a road trip.

BW photograph of a barrel a the entrance to the Harpers Ferry Visitors Center.

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

This was certainly no epic, but being on the road for something other than the commute to work provided a nice interlude and a sense of the getting away.

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.