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.

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Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 46 (Nasturtium Photomontage)

18 June 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Nasturtium Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Nasturtium 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:

One of the pure pleasures of June’s yield is a variety of edible flowers. The one that began to graze my palette last week is the nasturtium. These jewels of the garden are curious in their design: almost circular five-petal flower heads that are iridescent in the light. The leaves are round and etched in delicate white lines that fan out off-center to the edges. And the paper-thin leaf allows shadows to emerge and strengthen floral appeal.

But it’s the flower that charms: each razor-thin petal moves from a tail-like container that cradles and cups each petal. The front of the petal has tiny lines that jut toward the top and small furry edges on the bottom.

One has to examine them with a microscopic eye to see their entire offerings. And after plucking the taste is peppery and distinct, quite a lovely accent to fresh greens.

Each year I plant few annuals, but nasturtiums (and geraniums) are at the top of a short list. I’m particularly drawn to the “Empress of India,” which has deep maroons flowers and dark green leaves. And so I was surprised at the first appearance of the buds as they unfurled. The deep red was more deep orange.

It may have something to do with the soil, which I had tested. Nitrogen was recommended for optimum performance this year for my vegetables and flowers. While I added the required amounts, the area where I planted the jewels had not be done. Still, delicious flavors in taste and coloration reigned.

In the Lens section is the first of this year’s gems. There is a photomontage of a few nasturtiums and two straight-from-the-lens (iPhone) images. They long for light to give them the attention that they deserve. And they got their wish.

 

Posted in Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in an Age of Uncertainty: No. 45 (Skyscape #3 Photomontage)

11 June 2018

Lens:

Skyscape #3 Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Skyscape #3 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:

The sky is showering flowers, a clear gift of spring’s presence. Blossoms cascade in a flurry of pinks and purples and reds and whites. The bounty is palpable, giving new meaning to “when it rains it pours.”

Seasonal blooms drift through clouds and sky, catching the sunlight as they move rhythmically with a sudden gesture of truth; they are the sky, the clouds, the sun.

Nature is the quintessential truth. She reveals. If we listen, she can become a guidepost for living. To ignore her is to miss a pivotal essence of life’s offerings.

In the Lens section is my tribute to spring’s flowering: #3 in my Skyscape Series. After a spectacular trip to an urban paradise in neighboring Montreal, I returned to a garden bursting with energy. We’ve had more than our share of rain, and the landscape thrives, which means lots of daily gardening. The wild things are everywhere. In recent years the number of invasive species have increased, which requires diligence and a new plan to contain them. A natural weed eliminator (Epson salts, white vinegar and Dawn dishwashing soap) succeeds, as does laborious hand weeding. But being attentive to earth’s gifts helps my re-entry after a glorious trip with my grandchildren. Thank you Montreal.

Note:

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) is known as the master of black-and-white landscape photography as well as a superior technician. But he also was a devoted environmentalist. Recently, the position of photographer for the U.S. National Parks was filled. Here is an interview with Jarob Ortiz, the “New ‘Ansel Adams’ of the National Parks.” It’s worth the read.

Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | 26 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 44 (Skyscape #2 Photomontage)

21 May 2018

Lens:

Skyscape Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2017 Sally W. Donatello

Skyscape #2 Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2017 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

Wishing you bright colorful skies for the next few weeks. I am stepping into vacationland and will return on 11 June 2018.

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 43 – Abstraction #2 Photomontage

14 May 2018

Lens:

Abstraction Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstraction Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

 

Abstraction Photomontage #2 ; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstraction Photomontage #2 ; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

As I passed the climbing hydrangea that has become a jewel on my front entrance, there was a dried flower from last autumn. That remainder from last year’s garden is a showy remnant. This native plant’s flowers are an apt example of how nature inspires human nature. The lace-like delicacy could easily encourage embroidery or lace work. The cluster of tiny flowers within the web-like flower spread outward with spaces for light to illuminate its design elements. It will be weeks before this year’s blooms appear in full regalia.

Meanwhile this one precious reminder will do. This climbing hydrangea quietly mesmerizes, and is one of few that will not harm the surface on which it clings. Its leaves are deep emerald and nearly heart shape. As a slow grower, it is manageable and easy to control and maintain. After six or more years it has spread as though wings opening the path to my home. It’s quite an emblem of Mother Nature’s presence.

That one leftover flower enchants and forecasts. In their full display they have tiny white flowers that are like a miniature winged bouquet. They cast a spell fresh or dried. Their resemblance to lace encourages the imagination. Even in their fragile appearance it survived a cold, cold winter to introduce this year’s spray of posies.

These signature florets of this native hydrangea is another symbol of spring’s verdant and continuous flourishing. Recent rain’s intermittent bathing of new and renewed life gives me pause. It lifts the cloud of political upheaval, and adds to spring’s many invigorating qualities, qualities that are ever-changing and evergreen.

While this hydrangea is eloquent in its dried state, it was not photogenic. No matter the effort to show what the mind interprets, it did not translate into a photograph. But it inspired me to revisit last week’s abstraction, and create another photomontage to show that while nature can be precise, she also has many sides that encourage circular responses.

Whimsy is just as cunning as an exact expression. So I offer you another impression of that reality, and with it I give you a way to see the hydrangea that floats through my thoughts. And in those imaginative moments it becomes a floral dream of Mother Nature’s extraordinary kaleidoscopic possibilities.

Note:

I’m waiting to receive the highly-praised book, The Overstory (2018), by Richard Powers. Its content bridges nature and human nature through the main protagonist: trees. You can read the review (“The Heroes of This Novel are Centuries Old and 300 Feet Tall” from The New York Times) that describes Powers as “a storyteller of such grand scope that Margaret Atwood was moved to ask: ‘If Powers were an American writer of the 19th century, which writer would he be? He’d probably be the Herman Melville of ‘Moby-Dick.’” If you have not heard of this novel, I urge you to read the review, especially if you are interested in nature’s mysterious and wondrous abilities. I cannot wait to dive into his storytelling that pays tribute to the natural world.

Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 42 (Abstraction in Nature Photomontage)

07 May 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Cactus and Hydrangea Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstraction in Nature Photomontage; 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:

Abstraction in nature pervades the landscape; it busts out of what we perceive to be the natural world’s precise representations. At first glance angles, lines and shapes can translate into branches and leaves and four-legged foxes. Still, when we become more aware, we  can see the less defined.

Photograph a macro of a cactus and the subject can suddenly be amorphous. Take an image of a meadow and the subject can be less available for individual parts of the whole. Thus we must be open to what we see, and our ability to give unexpected meaning to the  visual. Sometimes it is a matter of re-orientation to what is before us. 

Abstraction is one aspect of spring’s feverish rejuvenation of the visual world. Waves of color accompany this awakening. As color begins to illuminate the way, my spirit becomes enlivened with more and more hope. Nature is one of humanity’s best healers, bringing revelations and surprises.

When I made the photomontage in the Lens section, I wanted to recreate that idea of nature’s abstract coloration. The combination of a cactus and hydrangea resulted in that feeling of nature’s tinting our visual universe with a flair of bold or modest bravado. 

Sometimes the landscape pulls apart the objective from the subjective, or the subjective from the objective. But the wonder of the non-representational comes from its ability to stand for more than a mixture of color. Rather it will exude a kaleidoscope that dances before us, and unveils more depth and emotions.

Abstraction can be the perfect inspiration for one’s imagination and pursuits. Abstraction can be the perfect instigator for life’s hidden possibilities. 

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 41 (Red Tulip Collage #2)

30 April 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic. Edited in FX Photo Studio and Pixlr.

Tulip Collage II; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Tulip Collage II; 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:

The emergence of each spring flower inspires a circular seeing, the seeing that was encouraged and taught by the British critic John Berger (1926-2017). As I examined every possible angle of the cunning red tulips from one of my gardens, the idea of truly seeing was central to my appreciation.

This variety of spring blooms incites a gasp and sense of wonder. When I began to explore every visible aspect of their outer petals and stems, astonishment rose and kept  increasing. Each tulip head was closed, not quite ready for full disclosure. After arranging a handful of them, their immersion in water was set to reveal their inner secrets.

Berger’s own discovery of the power of seeing our external world through a complete examination is clothed in multiple parts: the way we see what is directly in view and beyond that initial glimpse. He became world-famous for one of the most critical parts of being human: our ability to fully communicate and understand our visual universe.

While one hopes that the camera’s lens and framing encourages such seeing, it really takes a core awareness to be completely attentive to the outer world. And that’s just from our own point of view. Each of us could still a flower, and results could be completely foreign to the next person’s interpretation. Seems obvious, but again most of us see what is directly in front of us.

And so Berger’s 1975 book Ways of Seeing burst the concept of personal observation. He gave the world a small tome that revealed how each of us can bring more of the outer world to our inner life’s experience, simply by moving and moving and seeing with a critical lens.

Berger’s philosophy about art and everyday life is part of art history and popular culture education, and the BBC production of Ways of Seeing can be seen on YouTube. Or get the book. It’s a lesson about our perception of our visual universe that helps to illuminate reality in one’s day.

His words radiate more today than ever. In an age of instant gratification and snapping every scene, much is missed in the rush to record and share. To slow the momentum gives an opportunity to see deeper and more comprehensively.

That’s, of course, my mission. Others move faster. It’s just a different way of living one’s life. It’s that simple and yet complex.

Note:

Here are marvelous examples of webcams that bring you up close and personal to wildlife. One of my favorites is the great horned owl nest with a family of mom and three little ones. Viewing each video takes patience, but it’s worth exploring one or all eleven.

https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/best-wildlife-webcams

 

 

 

Posted in Collage, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments