Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 22) – Hands of Life Series # One

18 March 2019

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Hands of Life Series; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Hands of Life Series; 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:

Since the beginning of human communication, hands worked their magic. Their mainstay became their utilitarian purpose. But as humanity evolved they became a critical source in silent visual communication. One hand can perform many gestures. Two hands can increase the interaction and speak without uttering one word. One hand can place itself over one’s heart. A hand can be clutched. Two hands multiply effects. There are limitless actions and gestures that place hands in a category that defy comparison. “On the other hand” expresses two contrasting views similar to what photography does in its journey through time and space. Photography often presents a literal point of view that may in fact be interpreted figuratively, and actually was created to have more than one meaning.

As these thoughts percolated, I imagined a new series that would convey the interaction and significance of the interdependence of nature and human nature. Much can be communicated through the quiet and loud proclamations of a hand’s stillness or movement. Much can be communicated by what is seen or unnoticed in the seeing.

In the Lens section is my first attempt at this visual storytelling: my hand holding a dried seedpod from a wisteria; the elegant pod speaks volumes about silence that can unleash vocal cadence and even havoc. Wisteria is one of Spring’s most beauteous and fragrant flowering vines. The open seedpod (with one seed remaining) represents a traveler across time whose life cycle spreads nature’s majesty. Wisteria symbolizes immortality and expanding consciousness, which matches my hope for Mother Earth: an evergreen existence.

For the last few decades I have been training wisteria wherever my journey takes me. In my current home, the wisteria (almost 20 years old) has been trained freeform, and its shape proclaims a Zen-like aesthetic. As it grows and becomes stronger and more robust, it evolved into a tree that exudes confidence.

This species needs constant attention; it’s aggressive growth means weekly pruning from spring to autumn. But that attention gives ample time to train it into the heart’s desire and nature’s meanderings. Creativity is boundless in this effort, and parallels the pleasures that a symbiotic relationship with nature provides.

The collage shows the power of Mother nature’s endurance, being able to withstand (momentarily) human interference. My hope is the tides will move with greater speed toward the coexistence that is needed to rescue our planet, our home.

 

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Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Collage, Digital Art, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No.21) – Black-and-White Still Life Photomontage

11 March 2019

Lens:

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

Black and White Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Black and White 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:

The pre-Spring light gives new breath to the landscape with graceful movement through angles and lines, contrasts and shadows. White spaces emphasize strength and resilience, and the black etches balance that flows as the day evolves.

To convert a photograph to black and white exposes what we see on the surface as opposed to the network of the unseen. There is a stripping away that allows less complexity and more simplicity to emerge.

In the Lens section three layers create an illusion that blends the human and natural. The black-and-white image is bathed in light, and seems exaggerated by even more beams of light. Color is unnecessary to narrate this Photomontage.

As this month proceeds, I welcome additional daylight as the sun repositions itself. Afternoons seem extended, opportunities beckon.

Winter seems almost forgotten, but that’s an illusion. Even with the week’s forecast in the 50s and 60s, the chill lingers in the shadows of history. Still, my thoughts are fueled by what the imagination can create and process over time.

The combination of human nature and Mother nature is limitless, giving me a never-ending array of creations and inventions. There is much to consider, as the muse encourages and plays with my senses and sensibilities. Nature is awakening and I’m a willing voyeur.

Spring illuminates the inherit need to honor and protect nature, and to have more faith in the ability of humanity to recognize our interdependence. Nature will always win; she is the quintessential master of the universe. We must cherish her part in our own existence.

Note:

Aperture is one of the most well-known magazines about photography. But it offers more that visuals; it also provides commentary that weaves the contemporary and historical. Each issue is theme-oriented and mesmerizes, taking me hours to absorb content and context. Aperture helps the reader discover what is current in the medium, and narrates these stories through image and text. There always is the unexpected, which builds the drama, intrigue and joy. There also is a special kind of pleasure as I hold the publication, and peruse its large-format pages. It’s a multi-dimensional online and offline magazine that offers “a growing digital publishing program, including e-books, apps and a daily blog as well as online features.” While I prefer the handheld edition, it’s worth the read and the time, even online.

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence: (No. 20) – Orchid Still Life II, Longwood Gardens

04 March 2019

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Stackables.

Orchid Still Life II, Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Orchid Still Life II, Longwood Gardens; 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:

While the calendar pronounces Spring’s arrival in a little more than three weeks, its easy for me to leap ahead and imagine the trajectory of kaleidoscopic changes in daylight and renewal. My seasonal purchase of seeds arrived weeks ago. They are perched where I can glance at them in the kitchen. All  I need to secure for the gardens are a few herbs, flowers and vegetables that I grow from plants. My “growing” method includes scattering seeds directly into their permanent place rather than starting them indoors. I find greater success having them have a permanent home.

After decades as a steward of the land, lessons multiply year by year. I do garden year round, never having more than a few days without tending the land in some small or larger way.

In the midst of winter’s fury the imagination begins to contemplate what will be maintained and what will be changed. Gardening is an evergreen process, never static. There is much to be done before the earth is ready for planting. And we’ve had an abundance of rain and occasional snow. The water table runneth over.

And part of me is still in hibernation mode. With the daylight growing I’m being pulled by inner and outer forces to begin daily chores in my gardens. It’s exhilarating on many levels, thrilling knowing that surprises always await.

In the Lens section is another example of a still life from Longwood Garden’s Annual Orchid Extravaganza. The conversion to black-and-white was realized as I envisioned what a black orchid would represent: simplicity and statuesque strength of purpose. The still life image was part of a large display of cultivated orchids that had a bonsai sensibility: trained for human visual consumption. And it was a blissful treat.

The thrill of Spring’s arrival keeps nudging and seducing my sensibilities. And until the warming of the air and drying of the earth I am content to dream and scheme about the birth of the season.

Note:

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson (2016) is a book that melts into thoughts of Spring. Hanson places the seed on a pedestal where it belongs. He is a field biologist with the heart of a storyteller and he does his subject justice. Those interested in the natural world and gardening will be entranced. Here are some comments about its content:

“The genius of Hanson’s fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves.” –Mark Kurlansky, New York Times Book Review

“This is a charming book, inspired by Hanson’s forays into seed identification and dispersal with his young, seed-obsessed son…. Hanson’s twist of looking at human interactions with plants in their embryonic stage is new…. The Triumph of Seeds will engender thoughtful consideration of our joint future.”
Nature

 

 

 

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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 19) – Orchid Still Life, Longwood Gardens

25 February 2019

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Stackables.

Orchid Still Life, Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Orchid Still Life, Longwood Gardens; 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:

Spring is on the edge of its appearance, and it seems to be accelerating faster toward its presence rather than away from it. Daffodils are inches high. Snowdrops are pushing skyward. And my spirit is on a better trajectory.

At last that “crack in the cosmic universe” has allowed beams of light to cascade across the universe landing in my small world, allowing another spark to radiate through me. The dark has been eased; the bounty of light stretches its harmony and abundance seems possible.

It’s been another warm winter with endless grey and rainy days. As the earth continues its dance, the sun rises higher and higher and daylight bathes through my gardens, beginning to awaken the gifts of Spring’s arrival.

In but a few weeks the visual landscape will be a continual array of metamorphosis, everyday rejuvenation will re-imagine the visual possibilities. It’s a seasonal shift from slumber to awakening. And my soul feels the burst of positive overshadowing the negative.

In the Lens section is my tribute to re-emergence. While at Longwood Gardens’ Annual Orchid Extravaganza a still life exhibit captivated my attention. Individuality was its strength with each scene a tiny vignette of these tropical wonders. The display in small cubicles reminded me of the artwork of Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)and his curious and inspired assemblage boxes.

While it may seem counterintuitive to convert luscious hues of orchids to black and white and then work at recreating my own vision of the still life, I did just that. Mostly, the conversion reminds me about seasonal change and the continual reinvention of the landscape by nature and human nature.

Note:

Worldark is a magazine published by Heifer International, which is an organization dedicated to end worldwide hunger and poverty. I have supported their work for decades. Their Spring 2019 issue had an article that focused on some beneficial aspects of trees that support human habitation of earth. Here are a few of the highlights from the article, “The Giving Tree.”

  1. An average-sized tree produces 260 pounds of oxygen per year, enough for two people.

2. There are 3 trillion number of trees in the world.

3. Cut utility bills, not trees: Trees on the west side of your house can block enough of the sun’s heat to save $25 on your air conditioning bill each year. Trees are also natural windbreakers and can therefore cut down your heating bills in the winter.

4. Here are two examples of health benefits: Exposure to trees and nature reduces mental fatigue and can reduce blood pressure and muscle tension. Having trees in yards and throughout neighborhoods can boost property values by up to 15%.

5. Since the onset of agriculture 12,000 years ago, the planet’s tree numbers declined by 46%.

6. Trees amazing qualities include their ability to: Emit airborne signals to alert other trees to prep for insect attacks, or to call in other species for backup. Some can produce chemicals to fend off leaf-eating insects.

If you want to learn more about the extraordinary work that Heifer International does throughout the world, view here.

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 18) – Bamboo Forest, Longwood Gardens

18 February 2019

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Stackables.

Bamboo Forest, Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Bamboo Forest, Longwood Gardens; 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:

Bamboo has divergent and harmonious character; it conjures the light, the dark of any gathering. A single stalk can be aesthetic or utilitarian, edible or ground cover, controlled or invasive, statuesque or compost. But a grove of this stately plant has qualities that baffle, bringing thoughts of its broader genuine luscious qualities.

Decades ago the discovery of bamboo as a garden feature was a steppingstone for me: it riveted my dive into its uses as an ornament and a tool. One of my seasonal luxuries is to make sculptures that grace and graze cultivated and wild spaces, adding more of nature’s prominence to my visual universe.

Bamboo, green or black, has charisma that wields sway over my heart and soul. Maybe its the mirroring of Japanese simplicity, and also its ability to continual reinvent showiness, spectacular patina on the landscape, push and pull of the eye’s lens, gentleness, toughness, and quiet yet energetic presence.

Whether you are in America or somewhere else on this “timed” spinning globe, we are soaring through a pseudo-reality, where technology’s infiltration and political confusion/intrusion brings constant anxiety and speculation. Gardening has always been a way for me to embrace solitude. More recently it has offered escapism from a country and world that not only disappoints but raises emotions to levels unwanted and even at times unhealthy.

Photography also acts as solace for the outer layers of society’s delusions and illusions, helping me to envision what the world appears to be and what I wish others could and would see. That is, for them to open their minds beyond the obvious and recognize the greater good: nature and human nature as companions who need to embrace coexistence as a major solution.

In the Lens section once again I have imagined layer upon layer where nature and human nature are integrated. Today’s conditions continue to manifest themselves in lives lived and lives taken. The bamboo forest is quietude in a world of chaos and confusion.

What to do? What can be done? What is being done? What will be done?

Note:

British novelist and philosopher Iris Murdoch (July 15, 1919–February 8, 1999) is an icon of the written word. Her poetic voice echoes from the twentieth century, moving through days and nights. One of my favorite quotes from her journals is: “For me philosophical problems are the problems of my own life.” Often she delved into how art is used to inform shifts in culture and its effects upon society.

Murdoch commented on technology as it cast its spell on the arts: “A technological society, quite automatically and without any malign intent, upsets the artist by taking over and transforming the idea of craft, and by endlessly reproducing objects which are not art objects but sometimes resemble them. Technology steals the artist’s public by inventing sub-artistic forms of entertainment and by offering a great counter interest and a rival way of grasping the world.”

One of her thoughts about art: “Great art is able to display and discuss the central area of our reality, our actual consciousness, in a more exact way than science or even philosophy can.”

She also wrote about the way dictators use words to influence their audience: “The quality of a civilisation depends upon its ability to discern and reveal truth, and this depends upon the scope and purity of its language. Any dictator attempts to degrade the language because this is a way to mystify. And many of the quasi-automatic operations of capitalist industrial society tend also toward mystification and the blunting of verbal precision.”

 

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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 17) – Floral Clouds

11 February 2019

Prologue: This blog is my ode to Mother Nature. And, clearly, I’m trying to give nature a voice: visual and written. We are so tiny within the wondrous universe. To realize our true place in the cosmos gives pause, but also adds a sense of urgency to act and not accept.

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Floral Clouds Photomontage (Christmas Palm) Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Floral Clouds Photomontage I (Christmas Palm), Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Floral Clouds Photomontage II (Christmas Palm) Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Floral Clouds Photomontage II (Christmas Palm), Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

These atypical winter days of 40s and 50s pulse thoughts of spring’s awakening. That rejuvenation of a day’s trajectory lovingly fills my imagination. Yesterday as the warmth of an almost 60-degree day swept through the region, I merrily strolled the grounds of Longwood Gardens, spying on shadows and trees.

Hours of meandering outdoors was topped with the Annual Orchid Extravaganza in the Conservatory. While those tropicals are luscious visual jewels for the heart and soul, outside was the star.

In the Lens section is my salute to this unusual and spritely spring-like weather. Images are waves of summer’s floral coloration. Each abstraction allows the mind to imagine the possibilities behind the clouds and the waves of hues.

These two images are made from two photographs and manipulated with double exposure to give them double meaning. The execution from pure image to post processing (with digital darkroom techniques) renders the final photographs anew: two different photomontages. Through my interpretation each image is re-imaged. I envision spring with heavenly painted clouds that overflow with rejuvenation. They also overshadow dark predictions, replacing them with glorious floral splendor. Even as the second photomontage seems to cry with tears of reawakening, for me it conveys the work of healing that must begin.

Just as the camera’s lens is a representative of my intentions, the use of other photographic tools allow me to experiment and produce a photograph that speaks to my heart, and more clearly symbolizes what I want to say. Again, allowing me to represent the possibilities sparked by nature.

While a single image of a floral beauty can be enough, apparently it has not become enough for my own self-expression. Experimentation continues. Interpretation evokes the seen and the re-imagined.

Note:

Philosopher and literary theorist Maurice Blanchot (French, 1907-2003) wrote with serious intentions about the human condition. His commentary about the act of seeing is worth reading.

Here are two examples:

“This is sight’s wisdom, though we never see only one thing, even two or several, but a whole: every view is a general view. It is still true that sight holds us within the limits of a horizon. Perception is a wisdom rooted in the ground and standing fixed in the direction of the opening; it is of the land, in the proper sense of the term: planted in the earth and forming a link between the immobile boundary and the apparently boundless horizon — a firm pact from which comes peace.”

“I wanted to see something in full daylight; I was sated with the pleasure and comfort of the half light; I had the same desire for the daylight as for water and air.”

 

 

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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 16), Seedpod Photomontage

04 February 2019

Lens:

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

Seedpod Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Seedpod 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: 

The visual has become paramount to comprehend the value of my days. As I drift with intention and a sense that each day is a gift, that imagery challenges and steers how I live. And I know that nature’s artistry helps to fulfill my purpose.

Over decades I have emerged with a duty is to present how Mother Nature brings such genuine magnificence and omnipresence to each and every day, no matter where or how my time is spent. Sure its glorious to visit exotic places, but that’s not necessary to discover the unparalleled joy of a leaf’s difference from season to season, of the majesty of a sunrise and sunset.

Still, humans believe that they can see what is before them, the obvious that becomes a whole world to interpret through the seen. But it’s not that simple. Truly, noticing what is in one’s visual universe is a cultivated act of being. We spent an inordinate amount of time under-seeing.

It happens quickly as if it never did. That sudden realization, seeing a fragment of life that was always there yet unnoticed. It’s a common occurrence. You pass that way daily or occasionally, and do not notice a sign that signifies its placement, a tree that bends over the road, a building with a particular kind of architecture.

It reminds me of the photomontages that I am creating, and how double exposure is an apt example. To separate the images reveals what is hidden and re-imagined by the process. To make them brings a different patina to what already exists. To see the unseen allows for veils of the past to fade away.

This under-seeing is a human phenomenon, a trick of the eye, the mind, the brain. And then what changes to allow for this sighting that alluded us for so long? Over time do we become more aware, less aware or just who we are? Regardless, the surprise discovery seems to bring a moment of serendipitous joy, and realization of what we might be missing in our visual universe.

It becomes habit to glance over what is essential to sustain life, and to understand the need for balance between nature and human nature. We also underplay our abilities and gloss over our loss or lack of awareness.

When you become driven by the camera’s lens or the painter’s tools or the sculptor chisel, any means that gives significance to seeing, a world of inner and outer depth is revealed. That appearance becomes a way to continually develop and grow. It affects an entire way of being.

In the Lens section is an example of what I see and what I re-imagine from that sighting. On a late afternoon walk through a local botanical garden light gave dried seedpods a subtle glow. And as I pressed the shutter, I reinvented them into an image of a dazzling silvery grouping: the realization of twilight’s glow.

Clearly I’m trying to give nature a voice. That is, to act as a visual voice for her. We are so tiny within the wondrous natural universe. And yet our assault has been accumulative with great consequences. We take natural habitats, dump chemicals in the waterways, release carbon dioxide into our airwaves, drill in pristine lands, reduce the wild, bring invasive species to struggle our planet. The ramifications are steadily appearing, steering an unknown journey for life forward.

I ask myself: What happened to coexistence?

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 32 Comments