Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 13) with Trees (Series 1, No. 2)

14 January 2019

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Simplicity Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello, 2019 All Rights Reserved

Young Tree, Nature Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello, 2019 All Rights Reserved

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

Photo manipulation has been part of my aesthetics for decades. Years ago I was immersed in Poloroid’s SX-70 Camera, I spent countless hours manipulating the surface of those magical images. When the film was no longer available, my creative energies were given a major jolt. As many, I recovered. When The Impossible Project came to the rescue, I brought out my cameras. But the film has never equaled the original.

Over the last year I began to experiment on my iPhone with Photomontage, a technique that has given me the creative space that in teeny tiny ways mimics the Polaroid experience, at least the emotional high. Often I combine variations of these apps: Camera+, Polamatic, Snapseed and Pixlr. The Pixlr allows me to play with double exposure, giving me the unexpected excitement of the SX-70 film and surface manipulation.

While results do not create the magic of an original Polaroid image, I am given a new kind of canvas to fill. This canvas seems to appease a creative need. With Pixlr as a permanent app in my toolkit, I plan to experiment with others.

My aesthetic goal remains constant. To show how nature and human nature interconnect; how nature’s majesty is paramount to my own well being; record the omniscience of nature;  speak on behalf of Mother Nature; and, express my reverence for the natural world and its ability to sustain life, all life. So in the New Year I continue to use composite images to illuminate nature in all her splendor, to revel in her spell upon my inner aesthetic  journey.

In the Lens section is my second in the series about trees and their coexistence with human nature. This interpretation is from Henry David Thoreau’s poignant words: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” This emphasis on one word and its strength to prevail has been a guidepost of my philosophy and spirit.

The image is a reflection of nature’s swing from complex to sparse. It was taken in early afternoon against a wintry sun’s caress, but I wanted to show its quiet beauty through a background that evokes the dark of night. The dark background allows the viewer to appreciate the youth of the tree, and how it is lit with possibilities yet to be realized.

Note:

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American naturalist and writer:

“All good things are wild, and free.”

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

“The world is but a canvas for our imagination.”

“I should be glad if all the meadows on the earth were left in a wild state, if that were the consequence of men’s beginning to redeem themselves.”

 

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Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 12) with Trees (Series 1, No. 1)

07 January 2019

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic; edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Coexistence with Trees Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

Coexistence with Trees Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

Melodramatic weather greeted the new year, bringing thoughts about the wondrous experiment called Earth. Our entire planet spins upon nanoseconds and eons of scientific interactions. But since the birth of human life, another factor entered the equation. The human condition has added to and taken from the evolution of what can be, what no longer is, and what is yet to be.

It is a continual kaleidoscope of possibilities—possibilities that have their joys and their sorrows. Today’s reality is staggering. The fate of nature and human nature is serious. And it’s a brutal commentary that we still have deniers who are more interested in making money than preserving the health of the very place that sustains life, their life. There are signs of a brighter beacon of hope: the latest climate accord and the America’s newly sworn House of Representatives who have climate change as a major policy initiative. Maybe now there will be a shift toward moral clarity about human rights, economic and social justice, and climate change (my top concerns).

As the new year unwinds, I continue my experiments that focus on the coexistence between nature and human nature. Over the last few weeks I have been completely enamored by the overwhelming artistry of trees. It’s as though the discovery of winter’s bare statues has brought a new way to see, really see, their extraordinary visual grandeur.

My emotions are heightened and an inner peace surges as the realization mounts: every tree and its various elements offer limitless aesthetics to uncover. And each discovery saturates the spirit with a new sense of life’s offerings. Those feelings are what binds us to nature, and what created an inextricable connection that can never be severed. This partnership, this interaction is necessary for a sustainable life tomorrow. That is the essential mission of humanity today and everyday.

In the Lens section is my new series that nestles inside the main series on coexistence. It’s an ode to trees, which remain one of the most important links to a healthy planet. As we learn more and more about their own ability to communicate within networks, we learn more and more about our own abilities. Trees are a clear and present force of nature’s role in our own future trajectory.

This image–a composite of two trees, one in spring and the other in winter–represents my vision of nature’s multiplicity and omniscience. This photomontage is the beginning of a series within the overarching idea of coexistence between nature and human nature.

On a recent walk through a local botanical garden, I spied numerous varieties. From crepe myrtle to hibiscus (mallow family, Rose of Sharon) to Vitebsk (verbena family, Chasetree) to St. Johnswort (‘Gemo,’ Garcina family) the afternoon was devoted to the omnipresence of winter’s bare trees: those stalwart symbols of nature’s seasonal pledges of abundance, interdependence and survival.

But there is another aspect to a tree’s role as one of nature most familiar of progeny: they provide an intangible and tangible sanctuary to dwell. Trees of winter are shelters for my soul. They coerce me to pay attention, asking me to examine their nakedness, and call upon their quiet, statuesque form and stark eloquence.

Note:

The New York Times and its campaign about truth continues.

From a 2018 poster, click on image to enlarge.

 

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Nature Photography: Coexistence (N0. 11)

17 December 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Floral Sky Photomontage, All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Floral Sky Photomontage, All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

As the year continues to wane, I seek more and more optimism. One of my year-end rituals is to peruse my photo library, scanning my year’s inner lens. This tradition has a way of uplifting and instilling introspection.

Then I search to select one image to post that seems to show the direction of my imagery over the last twelve months. It may not be my favorite, but it must cheer and reveal certain qualities. I also like to take a short break from the blog, and want to have a lively image to exhibit as a last visual story for my blog in 2018.

In the Lens section is a photomontage, and that technique as well as collage has become a regular feature of my work. Photomontage, especially, are magical and mysterious, allowing me to create a composite of the real world with an illusion and imaginary vision of my inner universe.

I wish for all of you a quiet and peaceful turn of the year, and may 2019 bring sheer moments of creative energy and enthusiasm and exhilaration. If the cloud of climate change does nothing else, it should spark desire to live life to its potential, and bring all of us together toward a quest for community activism about how to return our world into a healthy planet.

Ode to Nature:

She

Lightens life’s step.

Vivifies life’s mood.

Heightens life’s purpose.

Fortifies life’s destination.

Note: To end the year on an uplifting note is always a personal mission. As most of you know, I am a dedicated environmentalist and gardener, and climate change is always, always in the forefront of my thoughts. And so it was with a teeny tiny sigh of relief that I read the following:

 

 

 

 

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Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 10)

10 December 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Floral Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Floral Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.

Pens: The celebration of Mother Nature and her diverse progeny are bountiful at one of our national treasures, Longwood Gardens. And the winter holidays always inspires displays that entertain and mesmerize.

We’ve had unseasonably cold weather for weeks, and days are less and less lit, but sunsets seem to replace the exhilaration usually from longer sunlit days. To cheer my mood and get an infusion of grandeur, I visited Longwood Gardens last week. Their holiday exhibits were perfect: a less ostentatious approach, more minimalistic, illuminating poinsettias and other holiday plantings with numerous varieties.

But as I wove in and out of groups of visitors, I was star struck by the discovery of tree trunks of Banana plants. I have been to this world-renown destination numerous times a year for decades, and I have never fixated on these intriguing plants, really trees.

What drew me to those tropicals, while fanfare of the holiday season was beautifully interspersed within their permanent collection? These wondrous plants hidden and in plain sight drew my attention with the skin of their trunks: true examples of nature’s abstract artistry. Each tree, aged and anywhere from six to eight feet tall, screamed with swatches of tones ranging from greens to browns to blacks. It’s as if Mother Nature sat patiently painting horizontal bans of color with free-form gestures. I was captivated.

The real question is : How was I diverted from holiday decoration to the calm swaths of nature’s coloration? I felt as though I was the only one in the Conservatory who was admiring elderly representatives of their collection. But their majesty rests with a few images that simply do not do justice to my memory.

In the Lens section is a photomontage of two holiday jewels combined into one: Poinsettia ‘Euphorbia’ and Authrium ‘Anthbasawa.” The composite image exudes the emotions of the entire holiday exhibition. As I left the grounds, my spirit rejuvenated, a light snow escorted me on the hour-long ride home. The unexpected gift was another gem that added to a morning filled with memorable surprises and nature’s strong grip on my senses.

Note:

For a poignant presentation about how each of us can learn to see the world afresh, view Amy Herman’s TED Talk titled “A Lesson in Looking.” Click here for the 12:59 minute video.

Here is an excerpt: “I have been mining the world of art to help people across the professional spectrum to see the extraordinary in the everyday, to articulate what is absent and to be able to inspire creativity and innovation, no matter how small. And most importantly, to forge human connections where they may not be apparent, empowering us all to see our work and the world writ large with a new set of eyes.” 

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Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 9)

03 December 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Autumn Refraction, Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Autumn Refraction, Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this collage. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

Mysterious, mesmerizing, enchanting—words that hint at the sense of awe I experience each autumn as the sun moves with a cadence downward in the sky. That change creates many effects, including unfortunately days of less sunlight. But there is one that appears annually that always, always astonishes, seduces and surprises my inner response.

This phenomenon provides tender moments of quiet and sanctuary. The effects translate into ghost-like refractions that land with an ethereal wonder upon the same place every late autumn. The interior wall where is appears serves as a blank canvas for nature’s art. And it only happens because the sun has moved lower in the sky.

In the Lens section is an example that I discovered this week, sitting comfortably and suddenly noticing the dance of light. Late morning these ethereal images move in and out of time. Their magician-like appearances create illusions, and their longevity is brief as if reality is a fantasy.

Note:

The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World (2015) was one of The New York Times ten best books for 2015. Humboldt (1769-1859) was a naturalist and scientist. Andrea Wulf won numerous awards for this contribution to nature writing. Among the prizes that she received for the publication include: Winner of Royal Society Science Book Prize 2016; Winner of Costa Biography Award 2015; Winner of  Acqui Storia Award 2017 (Italy); Winner of the Inaugural James Wright Award for Nature Writing (Kenyon Review & Nature Conservancy) 2016; Winner of LA Times Book Prize 2016 (Science & Technology); Winner of Dingle Prize British Society for the History of Science 2017; 2016.Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA).

Here are some short comments about this well-received book:

“Andrea Wulf reclaims Humboldt from the obscurity that has enveloped him. . . . [She] is as enthusiastic as her subject. . . . Vivid and exciting. . . . Wulf’s pulsating account brings this dazzling figure back into a dazzling, much-deserved focus.”
—Matthew Price, The Boston Globe
 
“[Makes an] urgent argument for Humboldt’s relevance. The Humboldt in these pages is bracingly contemporary; he acts and speaks in the way that a polyglot intellectual from the year 2015 might, were he transported two centuries into the past and set out to enlighten the world’s benighted scientists and political rulers. . . . At times The Invention of Nature reads like pulp explorer fiction, a genre at least partially inspired by Humboldt’s own travelogues. . . . It is impossible to read The Invention of Nature without contracting Humboldt fever. Wulf makes Humboldtians of us all.”
—Nathaniel Rich, New York Review of Books
 

 

Posted in Abstraction, Black-and-White Photography, Collage, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 9)

26 November 2018

Lens:

Light in the Forest; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Light in the Forest; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this photomontage. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

Above is my ode to the American holiday: Thanksgiving. The photomontage represents the light in the forest, that illumination that gives optimism. As I combined two images, my intention was to create that feeling of wonder that appears in that moment of discovery, that moment when time stops and the world seems balanced and full of promise. And in that moment we are simply grateful to exist, to realize the incredibly world of nature and human nature.

Since I’ve been traveling for a few days, the Pens section is brief. I’m letting the image mostly speak for itself.

Note:

I’ve been smitten and transfixed by seasonal and year-round birds for decades, really all my adult existence. My initial awareness was sparked in my early days as a novice gardener, and became gobsmacked by hummingbirds. That love continues as does a reverence for these fascinating creatures.

Recently, I was overjoyed by the discovery of the publication of The Splendor of Birds: Art and Photographs from National Geographic and Catherine Herbert Howell (2018). It tells the story of the avian population and its wondrous role in nature.

From National Geographic website: “Bird, nature, and art lovers alike will treasure this sumptuous visual celebration of the colors, forms, and behaviors of the winged wonders who share our world as they have been explored, displayed, and revealed throughout the years by National Geographic. The book moves chronologically so readers witness the tremendous growth in our knowledge of birds over the last 130 years, as well as the new frontiers in technology and observation–from luminous vintage paintings and classic black and white photographs to state-of-the art high-speed and telephoto camera shots that reveal moments rarely seen and sights invisible to the human eye. The wide diversity of pictures captures beloved songbirds outside the kitchen window, theatrical courtship dance of birds of paradise, tender moments inside a tern’s nest, or the vivid flash of a hummingbird’s flight. Readers will delight in seeing iconic species from around the world through the eyes of acclaimed National Geographic wildlife photographers such as Chris Johns, Frans Lanting, Joel Sartore, and Tim Laman and reading excerpted passages from Arthur A. Allen, Roger Tory Peterson, Douglas Chadwick, Jane Goodall, and other great explorers.” Read more about the book on the Sierra Club’s website.

 

 

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Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 8)

19 November 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Light Appears; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

The Light Appears; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this image. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

When I ponder the direction and ongoing redefinition of my inner voice, appreciation and dedication is fixated upon the wondrous existence of the tame and wild. To conserve and honor the precious natural world is a longstanding mainstay that navigates my creative efforts.

Still, humans have had a seesaw relationship with nature, and today that continues. That ambivalence and at times assault upon her pushes me to show nature as I observe her.

Mother Nature is my muse, my constant inspiration. Whether a dark cloudy day or a majestic sunburst, hidden and obvious jewels abound. It takes awakening one’s ability to separate the distractions of our visually-rich universe to fully see what is offered before us. But it’s also necessary to understand our interdependence. How nature and human nature are inextricably linked.

It takes concentration and sometime even serendipity to discover what appears with more meaning than something else: to be able to focus and unleash the senses. What draws our attention from one space to another?  And how to salute the exactitude and fragility and strength and wonder and mystery and magic and unquestionable beauty of nature’s progeny?

When I began to combine (through collage and photomontage) images of nature, my own way of seeing the universe expanded, became larger and more aware. To find the right blend is a challenge with experimentation and patience.

The image in the Lens section is an example. While the two images are worthy on their own, as a montage they have new meaning as a dual effort to show nature’s promise. That optimism is seen in the light behind the dark, its emergence grows as hope spreads.

 

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