Visual Reflections. Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 32 (Collage of Cymbidium Orchids)

19 February 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic. Edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Cymbidium Orchids Collage Longwood Gardens; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Cymbidium Orchids Collage, 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:

These few words suffice for how I feel today, a day that felt more like SPRING than late winter. Today emotions and reactions exploded, inspired by serendipity and timing.

While spying on the bird station, a surprise came into view: six bluebirds. Those spirited creatures created an intense reaction–a reaction that speaks directly to nature’s gifts.

These birds have such appeal that I have spent the day bubbly with thoughts of their presence. While that may seem an overly strong reaction, it’s an example of how a moment can rearrange behavior and mood. How one moment can intercede to blend grace with joy.

But more importantly, those showy birds showered my universe, erasing the outside world. They showered my universe, allowing me to grasp the essence of the here and now.

Yes, bluebirds do bestow happiness, lighting the way with their sprays of blues and oranges and whites. They also speak to ritual, because for the last few years their appearance is a steppingstone to Spring’s arrival. And that is part of the source of my exhilaration. They act as a symbol for awakening, rejuvenation and renewal.

Note:

Let Your Winter Garden Go Wild” (by Margaret Renkl, 10 February 2018, The New York Times) appeared last week just as I was beginning to trim some of my perennial grasses. I’ve always left them as aesthetic additions to the winter landscape, but they also serve as hideouts for wintering creatures). Various native grasses fan across my gardens, drifting yet stationary as wind and rain and snowstorm bring them (temporarily) to life again. They conceal and reveal.

Renkle’s thoughts easily fit into my own philosophy of gardening. Every home cultivated by me has the sense of slightly tamed wildness. But winter is a time to provide even more habitats for the animals, and the untamed becomes part of the visual panorama.

With spring a month in the distance I am beginning the rounds to make small gestures to the landscape. The big pruning, trimming, rearranging and some removal will be weeks away.

Renkl’s article is a treat, and I encourage you to read it. Whether you are a gardener or a voyeur of all things in nature, it’s worth the time to sit back and enjoy her words. Here is a sample:

“An unkempt garden offers more than just food for the birds. The late offspring of certain butterflies, like the black swallowtail, spend fall and winter sealed away in a chrysalis clinging to the dried stems in what’s left of a summer garden. Others overwinter as eggs or caterpillars buried deep in the leaf litter beneath their host plants.

Most species of native bees — or their fertilized queens, at least — hibernate underground during winter. An industrious gardener pulling up dead annuals could expose them to the cold, and one who mulches too deeply could block their escape in spring. Other beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps spend winter in the hollow stems of old flowers.”

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Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Macro Photography, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 31 (Cymbidium Orchids Photo Collage)

12 February 2018

Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic. Edited in Snapseed, Stackables and Pixlr.

Cymbidium Orchid Photo Collage, Longwood Gardens; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Cymbidium Orchid Photo Collage, 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:

Whether I need to raise my mood or simply bask in the reverie of life, I take frequent visits to one of my country’s horticultural jewels, which always, always heightens my day. Longwood Gardens offers year-round special exhibitions and performances, but honestly every journey has its extraordinary memories.

This historic site is the legacy of Pierre du Pont, and has been bringing untold joy to countless worldwide visitors since the early decades of the twentieth century. I am particularly fortunate to be able to stroll through its conservatory and grounds, which is a forty-five minute drive through lush countryside. I pass historic sites and small towns, reminding me of the history that bridges my home state Delaware and nearby Pennsylvania. The drive alone is calming and nurturing, creating a pre-mood.

Last week I took myself to the gardens for the Orchid Extravaganza, one of their signature events. Long ago I stuffed anticipation back onto its page of the dictionary. My personality holds onto the notion that daily adventures will bring me a range of emotion and insights that vary with ridiculously rich, mild and tricky results. So Longwood’s latest exhibition would give me whatever I could “see” with open eyes and quiet heart.

The day’s chill had me briskly enter the Conservatory where large containers of white orchids basked against the morning light. That greeting set up the experience of sighting scores of cymbidium orchids, which seemed as though tiny floats of whites and pink and purples that dazzled the senses.

As I pondered the design of the exhibition’s features, I realized that displays were asking me to move as close to each flower as possible. The set-up allowed that macro view, and it also allowed for some remarkable discoveries.

One cannot really “see” the inner core of a flower’s offering from a distance. It takes a spy to realize the unique beauty held by each floral beauty.

In the Lens section is a photo collage of four captures of those cymbidium orchids. This diminutive orchid gives pause for its depth of soft and intense hues. While a straight-on view reveals splendor, I find various angles uncovers spiritual aspects of its form and structure—form and structure that cannot be appreciated by gazing only into its facial features.

Cymbidiums wield tropical splendor that plays with the notion of high maintenance. Being able to savor the laborious work of Longwood Gardens’ staff is one of the benefits of their proximity to my home.

No matter how often I visit their splendrous offerings, my gratitude overflows with abundant appreciation—appreciation that continues to manifest itself days after each excursion.

Note:

Since the internet provides the opportunity to see places we might not ever visit, those of you who cannot travel to Longwood Gardens can view its wonders on their website.This national treasure has much to offer and no matter how many times I have, there is always a lesson of profound stirring of the heart and soul. While that is hard to find virtually, one can get a sense of the magic that the gardens provide, both inside and out.

Posted in Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 30 (Light in the Dark Photomontage)

05 February 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed, Stackables and Pixlr

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

Light in the Shadows 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 we move into a traditionally cold-weather month, my mind is diverted with the illusion of spring’s arrival in a month and a half. Inspiration knocks and keeps me self-directed with the anticipation.

On a string of moderate days I spent some hours in the garden pruning perennial grasses and raking an area where my son leveled a tree—an apple tree that slowly grew leafless over two years. So I’ve directed myself to consider what native to replace that fruit bearer.

As the sun hits its lowest point in the winter sky, I can sense the effects that longer daylight bestows upon my psyche. It’s inspired me to imagine how spring backlights each day as we move toward the March equinox. Light pours through the synapses even as it is simply a silent story told to myself.

In the Lens section is my illusion of spring’s arrival, bringing streams of renewal and seduction. The dark and grey days of winter become the light beams of the planet’s rejuvenation: earth’s spring season that is sure to burst with scores of surprises that elevate each awakening day.

Note:

In the Talk section of The New York Times magazine (31 January 2018) Molly Lambert interviewed Robin Bell, the president-elect of the American Geophysical Union, an organization made of worldwide earth and space scientists. The article, “Robin Bell Doesn’t Think Science Should be Political,” is worth the read. Here is an excerpt and the link:

Ms. Lambert: “You’ve been studying the planet for over 40 years. Do you think there are still mysteries left to uncover?”

Ms. Bell: “Last year, we discovered that there are rivers running across ice sheets and shelves. They’ve been there since the first explorers went there. We hadn’t thought that could happen! It just shows there’s still stuff left to discover about how our planet works.”

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 29 – Winter Geranium Photomontage

29 January 2018

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed, iColorama and Pixlr.

Winter Geranium Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Winter Geranium 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:

Time to begin a daily count toward spring’s arrival: 50 days of forward thinking. As winter struts its mostly grey and sunless days, I have an internal battle between daily walks and hibernation. But the thought of spring allows me to dream and to focus on each day until more and more light appears daily, and more and more changes explode upon the landscape.

After weeks of bitter cold, the last few days have been moderate. And gloriously a geranium bloomed inside, and gave me an emotional uplift. Its intense pink produced a weightless sense that sparked interior calm and focus upon its gifts.

Last week’s temps were high enough that the ground thawed, and I was able to putter in my gardens. These days of reasonable weather give me a rosier disposition.

And that one floral jewel, basking in the few days of sunlight, was complicit in my heightened sense of well-being. Oh, how nature does hold me captive.

In the Lens section is a photomontage of that cunning flower. It dazzles me and continues to offer me a glow of light that shines within and beyond my gaze.

Note:

Wendell Berry (American, b. 1934) is a novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. He has been instrumental in the environmental movement and is celebrated as an advocate for nature. I’ve selected a few quotes that represent his philosophy.

“We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?”

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”

“Whether we or our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”

“The atmosphere, the earth, the water and the water cycle – those things are good gifts. The ecosystems, the ecosphere, those are good gifts. We have to regard them as gifts because we couldn’t make them. We have to regard them as good gifts because we couldn’t live without them.”

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature in the Age of Uncertainty- No. 28 (Button Chrysanthemum Photomontage)

22 January 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

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

Button Chrysanthemums 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:

22 January 2018

Oh, yes, I need cheering. My country is moving even deeper into the malaise. That place signals me to push even deeper into the bond between nature and human nature. And one uplift came from an image created from my last visit to the world-famous Longwood Gardens.

The Chrysanthemum Festival from last month was spectacularly memorable. And the photomontage in the Lens section was the burst of energy that shored my spirit at each gaze.

These button chrysanthemums are tiny (1 ½”). And their diminutive form exudes a vibrancy and triumph associated with floral effervescence. Their presence courts me with theatrics that are made through spirited, dancing hues.

This mum easily won my attention with multiple petals and pompom flower heads. Their perfume is delicate and mimics their perennial role as a herb. The range of colors ease from white to pink to yellow to orchid, fascinating to be sure.

So while I am a bit anxious in the throes of my country’s dysfunction, I have given myself a respite as I seek sanctuary in my own resistance by savoring nature’s omnipresence and omniscience.

Note: 

More and more human migration is being caused by climate change such as erosion, sea level rise, warmer temperatures, heat waves, severe storms, increased rainfall, flooding, increased moisture, and … It’s just the beginning. The most vulnerable live in coastal communities and islands, but the entire planet is subject to its conditions, which includes shortages in water and other alterations to the ecosystem. Climate refugees, which includes Mother Nature’s progeny, are becoming part of our twenty-first century way of life and its disheartening and scary.

Last year the internationally-recognized artist Ai Weiwei introduced the documentary “Human Flow” (2 hr. 20 minutes, iTunes, $4.99). The movie is a testament to his mission as an artist and this global crisis, where “65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war in the greatest human displacement since World War II (iTunes).” Weiwei visits twenty-three countries that are at the heart of this current human migration. I encourage you to view this emotional and informative film that depicts the reality of the effects of climate change.

 

 

 

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 27 (Evening Sky Photomontage)

15 January 2018

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed, Stackables and Pixlr.

Evening Sky Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Evening 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:

A sky is one of nature’s most intriguing and mysterious of phenomenons: quiet, serene, boisterous, sentimental, bold, intriguing, and so much more. The image in the Lens section evokes the feeling that I want as I enter the unknown of each day, that I want for everyone. That sense of enthusiasm and euphoria of a day’s unfolding.

The image is an evening sky that manages to burst into abstraction with my prodding through the blend of a few images. But a sunrise can cast forth equally stunning colorations to capture the spirit of the moment.

When I imagine its possibilities, not one boundary surfaces to curtail its limits. And that’s part of the awe, it has no beginning, no end, just seamless and triumph in every performance: day or night.

Note:

“Dare to Be Wild” (one hour and 41 minutes, 2018, directed by Vivienne De Courcy) is one of those cinematic gems about nature that must to shared. It’s based on a true story that inspires environmental advocacy on many levels. It’s a tale about Mary Reynolds who began her love of nature in Ireland by “sowing a single seed.” And then she changed the world’s view about landscape gardening. Her motto is “man is nature and nature is man, they are one and the same.” Indeed.

From iTunes (where you can rent it for $4.99): “Mary Reynolds is the youngest woman to win a Gold Medal for garden design since the Chelsea Flower Show commenced in 1913. After her victory in 2002, the British Government sponsored Reynolds to build a bio-diverse garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens, in Kew near London. She continues her “campaigns for the protection of natural habitats by bringing the power of wild nature back to city parks, roof terraces and into your backyard. She is listed as one of the top ten landscape designers of all time.” I hope that you decide to view this heartfelt retelling of the start of her tireless effort on behalf of Mother Nature.

 

 

Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 26 (Trees of Life Photomontage Revisited)

08 January 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed, FX PhotoStudio and Pixlr.

Tree of Life Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Tree of Life Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

Usually, I amble through the day with an eye to the present. I’m not one to dwell on the past or long for tomorrow. But last year still lingers, and needs to be given perspective. It also needs to be a benchmark for this year’s actions and deeds.

And so I was prompted to pull one of my favorite images from last year. In the Lens section is a Photomontage from August, which seems eons ago. The scene is less than a mile from my home, and part of the Wild and Scenic Parks. Its ambience provides a sense of calm and serenity in the midst of outside forces that have shaken my world: battering rams to our civil, moral, political and social way of life.

For the last week or more the Atlantic region (as with other parts of the USA) has been belted by a deep freeze that has been accompanied by high winds. It is not weather for outdoor activities. So searching through last year’s images has been a treat and a chance to assess the months of experimentation with post processing and photomontage, a technique that challenges and intrigues me. It adds stardust to my creative efforts.

The scene represents the theme of my inner eye. I am devoted to the stilling of nature’s irrepressible lightning majesty: from a single raindrop to a seed pod to a single flower to a river flowing to the reflection of light to the feather of a bird.

Mother Nature cast a spell decades ago, and has been my passion since that discovery. Even in her wrath and tonight’s temps in single digits, she keeps me afloat and always hopeful.

Note:

This week I discovered that Netflix’s has the second season of Planet Earth, which is a nature series from BBC One. Narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough it details, “…the frozen tundra in the north to the dry forests of the equator… Planet Earth was the first natural history documentary to be filmed in high-definition, and now a decade later improved technology has made it possible to capture further details, from elusive animal behaviors to previously inaccessible remote landscapes. In addition to exploring the wilderness, the series examines urban dwellings, focusing on animals that have adapted to city life.” Excerpt is from Planet Earth II. View their website where you can read more about the remarkable series and watch a preview.

 

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 35 Comments