Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty — No. 53 (Floral Abstraction)

06 August 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed, iColorama and Pixlr.

Floral Abstraction; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Floral Abstraction; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

The saying goes: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If that is true, then we have a lot of love and mystery in our lives. But we also have much certainty and uncertainty. For various good and not-so-good reasons, absence comes and goes into our lives and universe. Which means there is room for reactions that blend the real with the imagined, and give us reason to be joyful.

Absence can be revealed in a sundry of effects upon our lives. Sometimes they are brilliant beacons in a life that now has much daily anxiety attached to it. So that surprise brilliance can will itself into an array of interior glorious grace and gratitude.

These out-of-the-blue observations apply to my present state of mindfulness where the almost unexpected and the planned have intersected. This confluence will take me away from my blogging for some time, probably at least four weeks.

With fortune on my side this mini-sabbatical from the internet will bring a huge rainbow to my days and nights. To celebrate and contemplate this short departure I leave you with an image of hope.

What is to transpire in my absence is not necessary to detail. What is essential is the experience, and how it will shape me. That implies hope with capitals to emphasize the actual and the possible.

Until we meet again I’ll graze on the intersection of our lives, and how much my Lens and Pens blog has given me: time to grow creatively and time to meet individuals on similar journeys. Your presence in my life has enriched me and for that I am grateful.

There are countless ways, both positively and negatively, that we find ourselves are actively or clandestinely absent from life, from ourselves and from others. I work to embrace those differences and their effects upon me. While I am absent from this blogging endeavor, enjoy your days and nights,  enjoy every moment of your life.

As a reminder of nature’s splendor, I made a wave of floral wonders. It represents the abundance of the natural world, and the gifts given to me each and every day. And for that I have great certainty and clarity.

Note:

Below are three quotes from The New York Times and its current ad campaign on the theme of truth:

The truth challenges unchecked power.

The truth exposes a crisis of ethics.

The truth examines due process.

 

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Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in an Age of Uncertainty – No. 52 (Maple Leaf Collage)

30 July 2018

Lens:

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

Maple Leaf Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Maple Leaf 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:

July has become unpredictable. I live in the Mid-Atlantic on the East Coast of the USA, and traditionally this month (midway through summer) has always been hot and humid. It also tends to be dry, dry, dry. In the last few years the heat has intensified even more in August, and on a sunny day miserable is more than a descriptor.

Climate change and this month’s weather patterns have tossed any generalization into the stratosphere. In the last two weeks we’ve had daily rain, mostly pop-up storms. But severe thunderstorms also have persisted. To add to this unexpected shift, temps have swung downward to the low 80s, accompanied by high humidity. I feel as though I am living in the tropics.

While gardens are flourishing, we desperately need the sun to cast its magic. With excess rain comes premature dropping of leaves, mold and tomato-end rot. And the other day as I labored over cast offs, I found myself spying on a unique summer sighting: a maple leaf that had already lost some of its pizzazz, color dissipated and hues of autumn prevailed.

It stunned my visual senses. It sparked an instantaneous response, and I experienced a luxurious celebration of nature’s artistry and surprises.

Sometimes what you see in the natural world is unto itself perfection, perfection in the moment and the gaze. That’s exactly what happened. Even with the circumstances of the leaf’s demise, I found elation.

Note:

“I’ve started keeping an eye out for what others have in their years.”

Yesterday I read a charming article by Jan Benzel (The New York Times, 29 July 2018) who speaks to how her inner gardener was coaxed to emerge. “Confessions of a Late-Blooming Gardener” shares the metamorphosis of a city dweller “into a life with plants and trowels.” It’s a sweet article about how she was converted to the gardening life. You can read it here.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Collage, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 51 (Abstract Series #2 – Succulent Leaf Photomontage)

23 July 2018

Lens:

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

Succulent Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Succulent Leaf Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Succulent Photomontage; All Rights Reserved Sally W. Donatello

Succulent Leaf Photomontage; All Rights Reserved Sally W. Donatello

Click onto each image to enlarge. Let me know which you prefer. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

Visual abstractions force us to create a storyline, a passable narrative to soothe the mind’s curiosity. From the objective to subjective we dance a few tunes that arise during the first sighting. Then we settle into a curious exercise of what if…

I’ve been circling for weeks around the notion of nature’s fortitude and solidarity with infinite examples of the non-representational. It’s seems counterintuitive: nature represents the non-human species of the earth, and they are very much definable as visually recognizable beings.

And yet everywhere there are abstractions that entice and mesmerize the imagination. So I’ve been experimenting with my own notion of abstraction, and how it surfaces as I gaze upon Mother Nature.

Mostly, I’m using the luminosity of light to create what became (in the Lens section) an otherworldly effect. Two images of a succulent leaf beam with its surface patterns and show how one can isolate parts of the whole to make them disconnected with their real life meaning and purpose.

Then they inherit a space that is a different language–language that binds imagery with the unknown. We can imagine the subject, even as it has disappeared.

The final image can be simpler and more complex, depending on the elements emphasized. But usually the result calls upon the viewer’s emotional response, pushing the senses to rise up.

As time marches through a seasonal cadence, I am pledged to continue this quest. The abstract is nurturing a certain part of my spirit, and the experimentation takes me on my own abstract journey. And in this age of uncertainty that is a safe place to be.

Note:

For as long as I have been a devotee to nature I have been enamored by hummingbirds. I have spent decades creating gardens to lure them, to provide their favorite trump-shaped flowers. Every April I await their return, and the first glance exhilarates each and every time. There is magic and elation in their presence.

So I should not have been surprised to learn that they are a keystone species. As other pollinators, they serve a vital role in the ecological balance of our planet. Many other species are dependent on their existence. It’s comforting to have them return every year to dine upon my menu of flowers and vegetables.

Visit the National Geographic website to learn more about keystone species. They define the moniker: “A keystone species is an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem. Without its keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.”

Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in an Age of Uncertainty – No. 50 (Abstract Series # One, Leaf Collage)

16 July 2018

Lens:

Abstraction in Nature Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstract Leaf 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:

Photography can capture what we often miss as we gaze at nature’s progeny. Elements of genius and innovation abound in the natural world. An example is artistic and often abstract qualities, qualities that stir the imagination.

It’s not new for photographers to use their lens to capture the abstract, to show its phenomenal non-objective representation of what resides within the frame or beyond. It’s a subject that has been documented for as long as the camera has existed. The amorphous is found in sway or calm of water, ever-moving and mysterious sky, waves or silence of meadows, close-up of a butterfly’s wing, designs and patterns in feathers and fur—really throughout the entire natural world.

While Mother nature’s designs mirror the real and the imagined, I found myself steeped in how she carves shapes and impressions, which conjures twists of what we perceive as objective and subjective and non-objective.

When one has an intention to create a concept such as an abstraction, it can take many experiments as well as a thoughtful approach. And there is always the lessons revealed by the act and process of flow: allowing oneself to be in the moment and experience it rather than create a plan, which is my preferred modus operandi. Get an idea and let it fly with its own velocity.

And so I went on a search during the midday, intense light to watch its effects upon summer’s bounty. I felt the challenge of serendipitous discovery even in the face of the harsh sun. But large elephant leaves became the perfect canvas for the abstract. They were the foil for my hopes.

In the Lens section are the results of this mental and physical journey, taken in the heat of a summery day and producing a treasure trove of light to bathe through my discovery: the razor-thin mammoth leaves. Their emerald skins danced in the gentle breeze, defying  girth and length. They flapped in the breeze and caught beams of lights, reminding me of fans cooling the air as they moved back and forth and curled in the scope of their size.

I was compelled to show the way the light created formless shapes and contrast of simple colors, uniting what we think we know with the unknown. The abstract became and is a stellar teacher of what is often right in front of us to discover.

Note:

Sometimes an article, which focuses on the tangible and intangible elements about the gardening life, will bring a calm and clarity. It says what I feel, yet articulates it differently than I would. But its meaning parallels mine in small and larger ways.

Huma Yasin wrote such an essay, “I’ll Be Out in the Garden, De-Stressing,” that appeared in The New York Times last Thursday. Here is a quote and a link to the entire article.

“We watch over our garden, hoping for the best. There are no guarantees. A freeze or drought arrives and the harvest suffers. This year, the heat and lack of rain have significantly affected our yield. Yet even when everything seems to have gone wrong, the harvest is plentiful. The same is true for the human experience. There are phases of life when despite our best efforts, everything seems to go awry. And then there are times when even in the absence of any exertion, things fall into place.”

 

 

Posted in Abstraction, Collage, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in an Age of Uncertainty: No. 49 (Floral Clouds Photomontage)

09 July 2018

Lens:

Floral Clouds Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Floral Clouds 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:

Floral clouds, speak softly.                                                                                                                                      Sprinkle summer showers, bringing untold seasonal bliss.

Note:

“The truth demands our attention.”  The New York Times, 17 June 2018, full-page advertisement.

“The truth has a voice.”   The New York Times, 01 July 2018, full-page advertisement.

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – #48 (Leaf Collage)

02 July 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Leaf Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Leaf Collage; 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:

There’s little doubt that summer is about flowers and their evergreen effect upon our senses. And so recently while strolling through a local botanical garden, the morning light forced me to examine the way it brought many, many leaves to center stage. That stage brought my attention to their visual qualities, qualities that we usually do not notice in the summer.

Trees and other leaf-bearers are so enveloped by summery greenery that individual leaves get lost in the plethora. Usually we only notice their better sides in the autumn, a time when they shed their summer garb, and become the center of the season, coloring the landscape. 

To see summer leaves with their finery is to appreciate what we miss with much of our attention focused on floral profusion. But as I ponder the role of a leaf in summer, their importance puts them along side the blossom. Each provides critical elements to the natural world and to the well-being of human nature. 

Each leaf becomes central to photosynthesis, using chlorophyll that sustains food (energy)  production and then produces oxygen that sustains us. They need to be put (year round) on a higher pedestal. 

In the Lens section are a few images that demonstrate my point: a leaf’s ability to engage us, and at the same time play a vital role on Mother Earth.  

To notice the unnoticed provides a treasure trove of discoveries. There is a level of seeing needed with a greater depth of perception, and a greater ability to observe the usually unseen or barely noticed. And I realize that there is a level of intimacy that drives my seeing. 

The faces of a leaf or a flower or their undersides are on duty all the time, and noticing brings me closer to nature and its gifts. To frame each is to illuminate a minute, hour or day. To frame each is to bring sustenance to my spirit and soul, 

Note:

“The truth demands our attention.”  The New York Times, 17 June 2018, full-page advertisement.

“The truth has a voice.”   The New York Times, 01 July 2018, full-page advertisement.

 

Posted in Abstraction, Collage, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 47 (Meadow Photomontage Series)

25 June 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Meadow Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Meadow 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:

Often it’s a challenge to express what my feelings are as I discover spring’s gifts. The visual language has as much emotions as the written. But the confluence of the two takes hard, hard work to combine.

But Mother Nature is a precious muse, and allows me to experiment. She inspires and gives hope in a world that has become fragile and more and more anxiety-producing. And so I was pondering (in my need to immerse myself in nature) a meaningful image that conjures a sense of nature’s omnipresence as a meadow of summer flowers.

To imagine is worthy, but to create the imagined is to bring an inner peace most gentle and nourishing and nurturing. While it does not replicate the real, it forges a path toward it.

The landscape continues to rejuvenate and flowers are not in full flourish. So creating an imaginary meadow is an experiment with a sizable challenge.

My intention in the Lens section was to create a meadow of spring/summer flowers. But that did not occur. Instead the photomontage is a white coneflower bursting from a meadow of ferns. The coneflower is from my garden, and the ferns are from a recent trip to Longwood Gardens. The result is an abstraction of nature’s bounty.

The verdant image is my tribute of the landscape and its movement from winter’s nondescript color field to the delicacies of spring and summer. The imagined has its powerful place in memory and the future. And it leaves a larger challenge for me to fulfill the convergence of floral beauties over time. 

Note:

For those you who are enamored with the master architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), take a few minutes to view this article that allows you to explore (as you sit at your computer) one of his most famous architectural sites.

On the website Quartzy (“You Can Now Explore Frank Lloyd Wright Incredible Architecture Lab From Your Computer,” 21 June 2018 by Anne Quito) the images focus on Taliesin West, Wright’s tribute to the landscape of the Arizona desert, which takes you into the realm of magical virtual reality. Taliesin is where his philosophy of organic architecture and experiments were realized. He lived and worked there from 1937 to 1959. I was astonished at the latest project to document his work: a 3-D imagining laser project. Digital innovation was used to scan every aspect of Taliesin West, which is a monument to his genius. It astonishes.

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