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.

 

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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.

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!