More Rain

December 28, 2018

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

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

The mountains in the Pacific Northwest have had quite a bit of snowfall recently.  Meanwhile, here in the Mid-Atlantic, it has been another deluge of rain.  It started raining last evening…

BW photograph looking out over traffic on a rainy evening from a sixth floor hotel window.

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

and continued well into the day before a period of relative dryness appeared.

BW photograph of another flood of Morgan Run.

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

During that brief spell, a trip to check Morgan Run made sense.  The water level appeared to have exceeded its banks for the umpteenth (an imprecise term) time this year.

BW photograph of exposed roots from the recent flooding of Morgan Run.

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

BW photograph of a view from the road of a flooded Morgan Run.

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

It was clear that these photographs were made after the high water mark for this particular event had been reached.  However, it had begun to rain again as I was leaving.

In the spirit of gratitude, it was nice that the temperature was in the 50s, so this was not snow.  Even though this is the end of December, I am still not ready for that kind of snowfall.

On the other hand, this is the opposite of both the amount of rain and snow experienced in other parts of the country.  Indeed, it is imperative that one understand the complexity of the cultural, economic, environmental, political, and social aspects of weather (in the short-term) and climate change (in the much longer term).  With respect to the latter, one must also remember that as the planet warms overall, different geographic areas will experience differing effects:  some will indeed warm and dry out-others will become cooler and wetter.

And in related news, as per this report, the same socio-economic factors listed above come into play with the issue of “mercury and other toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants…” the regulations on which are now under review by the EPA.  This is in keeping with efforts to revise the regulations on CO2 emissions, which are also summarized in the report.  It appears clear that longer-term thinking is not at work here.

Take care.

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Spark

December 14, 2018

BW photograph of trees silhouetted againt the rising sun.

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

When going to the mountains for a hike, I am often up-and-out of the house and on my way well before sunrise-this becomes more of a task when temperatures are below freezing and it is still fully dark.  However, the trade-off is the stillness and solitude that has been written about previously.  Still, it feels like a bit of a slog when first starting out and much effort is involved in getting the legs moving.  The morning when these photos were made was certainly no different in that regard.

BW photograph of trees silhouetted againt the rising sun.

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

However, what was different, or perhaps better stated as being more noticeable or remarkable, was how energized I became when setting up the camera for these photos.  The brain engaged to manage the process of composition and exposure-the intentionality of photography drives selective attention to make all else fade away.  (Photographer’s note:  the image directly above is the same general composition as the one leading off this post.  The only difference is a pan to the right to include the closer tree, which is why it appears to be more prominent.  This cue adds a bit more depth to the composition.)

BW photograph of trees in front of a vertical rock formation early in the morn.

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

Back in the day (and I am old enough to use that phrase…), there was a distinct thrill that occurred when watching the image appear in the developing tray when working in a chemical darkroom. (The chorus of the song “Anticipation” is playing in my head as I type this.)  That kick is the result of a bit of dopamine being released in the brain, which has been referred to as a “dopamine squirt”.  Working digitally changed that as one no longer has to wait to see the results-they appear almost instantaneously on the monitor of the camera.  The kick remains the same, though.  This is especially true given that I work (mostly) in B&W now, which presents an image quite different from what is seen with the naked eye.

BW photograph of an overlook into a valley between two trees.

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

After having worked in B&W (in both film and digital mediums) for so long now, I have the ability to pre-visualize the scene as greyscale and not colour.  Of course, one only has to snap a test photo to see the difference a B&W emulation makes when using a digital camera.  Still, there is that spark of creativity that comes from seeing a scene, mentally creating the B&W interpretation, and then doing the work to realize the image as conceived.  That aspect is what makes the process just as important as the final image.

Take care.

No Thanks

November 27, 2018

BW photograph of a lone maple leaf on a large rock with Morgan Run in the background.

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

With Thanksgiving now behind us, attention returns to that for which thanks do not apply:  climate change.

The fourth National Climate Assessment report was recently released (here and here).  Despite what the president and other government officials (not to mention the general public) state and may want to believe, it is quite clear that humans have created the climate-induced mess in which we are now find ourselves.  That this report was released on Black Friday is another issue.

Bill McKibben wrote “Life on a Shrinking Planet”, which appears in the November 26, 2018 issue of The New Yorker.  That article leads off with a reference to his piece entitled “The End of Nature“, which was published in The New Yorker thirty years ago.  The more recent article presents a look at the history of choices made and not made by the fossil fuel industry, politicians, political organizations, and those who have supported, knowingly or unknowingly, a culture based on the extraction and use of materials that have led to the over-heating of Earth.  Toward the end of the article, Mr. McKibben describes a poignant visit to the Kennedy Space Center.  He also includes some quotes from John Muir, which have particular relevance to the issue at hand.  One quote stands out:  “I have better thoughts of those alligators now that I’ve seen them at home.”

The reason for the attractiveness of that quote?  It gets to the point of our relationship with nature.  Perhaps, just perhaps, if people spent more time outdoors experiencing the natural world, there would be a greater appreciation for it, and therefore a greater desire to protect it-a greater imperative to elect politicians and enact policies conducive to the long-term viability of the planet.  Indeed, please read the opening paragraph of this article from Scientific American.  What could be done outdoors with some of that time?  And yes, I do very much realize that this blog appears on a screen, and I do spend many hours processing the photos and creating this content on a computer.  However, these photos would not exist without having spent the time walking about.  Outside.

BW photograph of debris piled up after a flood at Morgan Run.

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

BW photograph of leaves plasterd against a tree trunk after a flood.

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

Of course, nature is not always benign, which is the way it ought to be.  Were nature to be so tame and predictable, then it would not be worthy of attention and respect.  Lately, though, she has been on a rampage.  That takes us right back to the issue of climate change.  Desertification, droughts, flooding, storms, and wildfires have all been exacerbated by the increase of the greenhouse effect. The melting of arctic ice and subsequent rise in sea levels is already displacing some communities-that, too, will increase.  As viable land becomes more scarce along coastlines and inland areas that are literally drying out, not only will that inflate its value and desirability, but the conflict between social groups competing for that resource will also intensify.

Thirty years are a long time.   Bob Seger in “Like a Rock” muses:  “Twenty years now…where’d they go?  Twenty years…I don’t know.  Sometimes I sit and I wonder where they’ve gone.”  As for the climate, shortsightedness and greed coupled with an (un)healthy dose of denial and obfuscation and ignorance have led us to where we are.

BW photograph of a sycamore tree's roots exposed due to flooding.

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

What will the geographic and subsequent social world look like in twenty or thirty years from now?  Globally, we may have some time left, but none that can be continually wasted.  Locally, for those flooded and burned out or blown away, time ran out.

Take care.

Encapsulation

November 9, 2018

BW photograph of a charred log lying among rocks.

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

Twelve shot dead in a bar and nearby the Woolsey Fire burns.  Senseless gun violence and the impact of climate change.

Also, this Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the ending of WWI.  On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, hostilities ceased.  The adjective “senseless” was used above.  Please read through this article for another application of that term.  Although, as the article makes clear, not all would agree with the assessment leading to the use of that adjective.

Such is the case when it comes to addressing both mass shootings and climate change.  The gun lobby has more than enough political power to prevent any meaningful interventions-the fossil fuel industries occupy a similar position.  Innocents continue to be killed and communities continue to burn.  Thousand Oaks, CA and the surrounding area are experiencing both simultaneously.

Take care.

P.S. This article addresses wildfires in the Plains states.  The differentiation and interaction of weather and climate change is described-as is the role climate change played in the fires as expressed in the interviews conducted by Mr. Frazier.  The creation of a sense of powerlessness, whether through lack of knowledge or teleological argument, is another dynamic at work in the persistence of these issues.  Failure to proactively address root causes mandates continued reactive responses.

BW photograph of Wolf Rock and trees silhouetted against the rising sun.

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

This is one to follow.

Take care.

BW photograph of fallen leaves in a gutter washed against a car tire after a heavy rain.

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

Not long after the previous blog was posted it did, indeed, begin to rain again, but gently.  At some point late last night or very early this morning, there was a downpour that was accompanied by strong, gusty winds-both rattled the house enough to disturb one’s sleep.  The results of this latest bout of precipitation were clearly evident once the sun arose-there were a lot fewer leaves still on trees.  When the rain falls that hard and that fast, it has nowhere to go.  In the built environ, the water ends up gushing in the streets.

BW photograph of a flooded cow pasture after a very heavy rain.

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

In open spaces, that much water is unable to soak into the already saturated ground.  On top of that (literally), local waterways again left their banks.  This photograph shows a flooded cow pasture…

BW photograph of a flooded soy bean field after a very heavy rain.

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

while the above is a soybean field that is just across the road from the pasture.  A culvert under the road provided a conveyance for some of the water to rush from the pasture to the field.

Vote for the environment on Tuesday.  The planet needs all of the assistance it can get.

Take care.

Weather as Metaphor

November 2, 2018

BW photograph of rain clouds above silhouetted trees.

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

Our foray into fall has made a U-turn as the mid-30s temperatures have doubled.  We have gone from frost warnings to thunderstorm warnings.  It rained very early this morning and more of the same is forecast for a bit later tonight; the clouds as displayed above did not release any moisture as of the typing of this sentence.

The end scene of the first Terminator movie uses such a cloud formation as the visual metaphor for the coming conflict with Skynet-the self-aware computer system that decided to eliminate humans and resulted in multiple sequels, prequels, and hard-to-categorize but less-than-equals.  Imagery of such ominous-looking clouds has been used in such a way for so long that this has become a cliché.

At the risk of such, we are most certainly at a defining moment in U.S. politics.  There is debate over whether this is the most ___ (fill-in-the-blank with whatever negative adjective as is desired) political season in history.  Given that we like to think of ourselves as the model democracy, it is remarkable as to the extent to which efforts are being made to exclude so many from participating in the process by voting.  It must be remembered, however, that the decade of the 1970s had more bomb explosions than any other; that the 1960s had cities burning from riots; and that the 1860s had a full-on Civil War.  None of that, by the way, is in any way meant to minimize the carnage and loss of life in Pittsburgh or the recent mail bombs sent.  Such behaviour is inexcusable and not justifiable at any time.

It must also be remembered that words matter.  What one says or does not say, especially when such acts as those above are not specifically and categorically condemned, gives tacit approval for their continuance. The use of rhetoric to fuel the politically-charged divisions within the U.S., and in other areas of the world, does nothing more than harden positions into what is now commonly referred to as tribal factions.

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s elections in the U.S., civility must not be the loser (as has already been demonstrated time and again).

Take care.