June 4, 2017

BW photograph of two old rotary movers overgrown with ivy.

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

When times become complicated and stressful, there is a real tendency to retreat into nostalgia in an attempt to find some solace and security.

BW photograph of an old strorefront with painted product advertisements.

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

A walk down a historic street engenders such moments, and that does provide a welcome “time-out” from the everyday.  (Quite honestly, that is one of the reasons I like working in BW so much.)

BW photograph of a white wall with a "Private Property" sign listing several prohibitions, included "No Lurking".

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

However, it is a real mistake to think that times in the past were any more secure, less stressful, or “great”.  The Great Depression.  Two World Wars.  Redlining.  The Cold War.  Sputnik.  The 1968 Democratic Convention.  Martin Luther King. Vietnam.  Kent State. Rodney King.  9/11.  Iraq/Afghanistan.  The housing bubble.    Climate Change.  All times present their challenges-some extend longer or have deeper impacts than others.  Some are most certainly more personal than others.  And some issues appear to be intractable:  racism, economic inequality, war.

There is no going back: we, and time, can only move forward.  It is the manner by which that movement forward takes shape that is key. Any attempt to turn back the clock and re-create an illusionary, distorted view of the past will almost certainly create more issues ahead.

Yes, “time-outs” are helpful-we just can’t live in them.

Take care.


May 16, 2017

BW photograph of blurred water running among dark rocks.

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

Many variations of the above composition have been posted here over the years.  In fact, I was photographing this scene long before blogs and digital capture existed.  This is a spot I visit often as it is readily accessible and yet can feel quite far away.

“Variations” is an important point as the photographs are not ever quite the same.  The rocks most certainly do provide an anchor, stability, if you will, to the images.  Yet, it is clear that they have been transformed by decades of running water as the texture and the stratified grooves evidence the wear-and-tear incurred.  What will they be like years from now?  I hope to see.

The water?  It is never the same in this particular spot-the changes occur nanosecond by nanosecond.  The water levels rise and fall depending on the weather and climate.  The force and sound are based on volume-sometimes it is a trickle, other times a torrent.  In any case, it is constantly on the move.

Together, the rocks and the water create many contrasts-light vs. dark; solid vs. fluid; stability vs. change.  The rocks offer a reliable presence-they persevere.  A specific measure of water was already long gone and replaced before the next click of the shutter-a process that was unending on this day.  All else being equal, there should be many years yet to photograph the rocks.  The water will remain mercurial.  Of course, nature is not equal.  It is possible to imagine the erosion that will inexorably, ultimately, lead to the demise of the rocks.  Or a big enough storm will flood the area and wash away this scene.  Climate change may dry-out the water.

As such, this image is also a metaphor for the times in which we live.  Can you think of anything else that could benefit from some stability?

Take care.

Today and History

May 1, 2017

Bw photograph of a distant composition at Spangler's Spring with trees and overcast clouds.

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

Today was a day that appeared to be meteorologically (invented word) confused.

BW photograph of rocks at Spangler's Spring with trees and clouds in the background.

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

It was mainly overcast; however, on occasion, the sky would open to bright sunshine….

BW photograph of some of the rocks at Spangler's Spring with trees and clouds in the background.

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

before clouding over again.

BW photograph of some weedy flowers blowing in the wind with Spangler's Spring rocks in the background.

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

The wind would also tend to gust a bit pushing those clouds, and just about everything that wasn’t heavy and firmly anchored, about.

BW photograph of a large rock at Spangler's Spring with lichen and roots growing on its sides.

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

All of these conditions made for a good day to be outside.

BW photograph of Spangler's Spring educational plaque with the title "Slaughter at Spangler's Spring".

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

These photographs were made at Spangler’s Spring, which is a site near Culp’s Hill on the Gettysburg Battlefield.  This is one of my favourite places to visit-it is often quiet here as it appears to attract fewer crowds than do some of the more well-known sites.  It always strikes me, though, how such a beautiful, tranquil place could have such a horrific history-the title on the plaque is indicative of what happened here in 1863.  On days such as today, it can be a perfect place to sit and reflect, not only about what happened here then, but also about the state of things in general.

Take care.

NOLA in LaLa Land

April 30, 2017

BW photograph of the Little Jewell of New Orleans menu board.

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

Food is one of the grandest expressions of a given culture.  Understanding that as a backdrop, it goes without saying that one of the distinctive aspects of New Orleans is the type of food and the manner by which it is prepared in the Crescent City.  One example of that is the po’ boy sandwich…

BW photograph of a beignet at Little Jewell of New Orleans in Los Angeles.

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

another would be beignets.  Both are classics.

A bit north and way to the west of New Orleans is Los Angeles, CA-one of the more culturally-diverse cities in the U.S.  As with many other large cities, much of that diversity is exemplified  in the multitude of restaurants and types of food available.  Even with that, though, it was surprising to encounter The Little Jewel  of New Orleans, which provides a definitive New Orleans menu and vibe to LA’s Chinatown neighborhood.  The photographs above were made there and not in any number of eateries in New Orleans proper.  Definitely a treat.

Take care.


Travel When Stationary

April 25, 2017

BW photograph of a plane in a terminal.

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

Over 10 hours this past weekend were spent in the air flying to and from the west coast, most of which was through turbulent air creating the need to remain seat-belted for passenger safety.  As such, there was not much time for movement-not that planes allow for much locomotion in any case.  Having said that, though, I was able to “visit” several global locations via the books brought for the trip-most principally was Afghanistan via Eric Newby’s A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, a title ripe with typical British understatement.  This was originally published in 1958, and I had given it a first read back in the 80s.

One of the real advantages of reading is the number of regions in the brain that are stimulated by engaging in that activity, as discussed here.  I do not tend to read much fiction, however, my imagination becomes just as ignited as I visualize the scenarios depicted in such works of non-fiction.  Having spent much time in mountains hiking, camping, and doing modest climbs, it is relatively easy to relate to the experiences Mr. Newby describes.  Moreover, I have read much about the geography and culture of this part of the world; the Soviet and American wars that have been and are currently being fought in the region; and have had the opportunity to talk with many who have soldiered there.  As a result, while re-reading Hindu Kush this time, I found myself wondering how the various peoples and villages Mr. Newby encountered have fared over the past 5+ decades.

Take care.

America – Only Smaller

March 25, 2017

BW photograph of a section of the upper end of boardwalk at Ocean City, MD.

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

Maryland is nicknamed “America in Miniature” because it encompasses many of the geographic features of the rest of the country.  If you start in Baltimore and drive west for about 2 1/2 hours,  you will be in the mountains of Western Maryland-an area not unlike the photographs from the previous post-they were made in a portion of West Virginia, which is just a stone’s throw from Maryland.

BW photograph of a sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean from a balcony.

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

If you head east instead, in about the same amount of time you could be standing on the beach looking at the Atlantic Ocean.  In between the extremes are apple orchards and farmer’s fields.  Small towns and larger cities.  According to the 2016 Census population estimates, Maryland is home to a bit over 6 million people while over 322 million people live in the United States.

BW photograph of the upper end of the boardwalk at Ocean City, MD.

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

BW photograph of a lone walker on the beach at Ocean City, MD.

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

The photographs included here are from Ocean City-a resort town that has not as yet been inundated with the Spring Break and summer vacation crowds generated by those populations.  As such, it is quite a pleasant place to be in the off-season.

BW photograph of a "No Profanity" sign on the Ocean City. MD boardwalk.

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

In addition to geography, Maryland also shares many social features present elsewhere.  Like West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky, Maryland is experiencing an opiate overdose epidemic.  As such, Governor Larry Hogan has convened an Opioid Task Force, something written about elsewhere on this blog.  The death of Freddie Grey has Baltimore intimately linked with Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO.  Baltimore and Atlanta, GA. have aquariums where you can walk among the fishes and other aquatic creatures.  Maryland also has many fine state parks, several of which have been discussed on this blog.

The point being made here is that it is possible to find that for which one is looking.  Want social problems?  They are here.  Want beauty and solitude?  It most certainly can be found.

“Maryland:  American in Miniature”.

Take care.


Screen Time

February 5, 2017

BW photograph of a person sitting in a hotel courtyard using a cell phone.

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

Today, the TED Radio Hour continued its series entitled “Screen Time“.  Journalist Jon Ronson’s interview and TED Talk are an important lesson in the legacy of social media and online activity.  While I would highly recommend listening to each of the stories presented though Parts I and II,  Mr. Ronson’s points are the focus of this particular post.

According to an article in The New York Times,  “…children are getting their first smartphones around age 10, according to the research firm Influence Central, down from age 12 in 2012.”  It is useful to read through the entire article so as to become familiar with the issues of such a young start as well as the guidelines for making such technology available for use.

Biologically speaking, the age of onset of smartphone use is especially critical because of the connection between neuromaturation and the maturation of judgment.  Essentially, the frontal lobe of the brain is our seat of reasoning, judgment, planning, and critical thinking, which are the so-called “executive functions”.  One particular application of these functions is the ability to predict the future consequences of our current behavior.  It takes many, many years beyond the age of 10 for the frontal lobe to be fully ready for such activity. (As an aside, it is also important to note the controversy that surrounds the type of research mentioned in that NIH report.  The text includes a discussion of those points.)

If children and young adults start using smartphones to engage in social media at age 10 or 12 or 15, they are doing so at a point where the biological mechanisms of judgment and impulse control are not fully engaged.  By way of contrast, the social pressures to interact online most certainly are.  Achieving social acceptance is a critical developmental task for this age group, and the desire to be “liked” now has a concrete measure in various social media platforms.  As such, folks are habituated to interacting online well before the brain may have fully developed the ability to assess potential problems with what is posted.  For some, as Mr. Ronson so carefully articulates, what is posted becomes the reality.

Take care.