Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 30) – Peony Collage

20 May 2019


Peony Collage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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


As spring continues its metamorphosis, the multiplicity of surprises always inspires. This particular unfolding of the 2019 season has created rather lush sensational floral appearances. There are favorites and as each vies for my attention, I am reminded of their possession of my senses and sensibilities.

Last week the peonies’ melodious aromatic serenade swept through my morning walks. The blossoms of this flower stun with an appeal that entertains with their design and layers of petals that are soft and silky to the touch. Truly, I can never keep from diving face first into their pillowy graceful comfort.

At a distance this particular grouping seems “pure” white. But no flower is truly white. There is either an dash/edge of color or a center of color or pollen that scattered its yellow-orange lure.

In the Lens section are three vantage points of one such beauty: a collage that tries to show its essence. The top and bottom images have been converted to black and white. The middle image struts its true colors: white with edges of dark pink.

Peonies leave me breathless, astonished by their splendorous thin layers of petals, those imperfect edges and almost ruffle-like charm. Nature really knows how to cheer me, how to raise my mood, how to persist in unveiling something that I’ve seen for decades, and then remind me that it seems like my very first time to be visually saturated by its unique majestic qualities. Year-after-year they astonish and seduce.

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Collage, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 29) : Spring Floral Collage

13 May 2019


Azalea and Minature Wild Geranium Collage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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


The rhythm pervades

Revolution, evolution, circular, round, revolving

And the circadian timing.


The rules—our pledge as earth’s protector—changed.

“We” dissolved them.

Re-writing history in symbolic and real realities.


Feel the anxiety and chaos in our selfishness,

Feel our outrage against those seeking greed and power over a sustainable future.










Circling and circling

Like dark angels ready for spring

And succession of plenty.

Devolution is not tolerable,

Only forward rhythmic action, cadence and determination to

Keep the circle spinning

Where is humanity’s generosity to preserve and protect? Where is our pledge with respect and reverence to continue humanity’s experiment? When will we realize that we are miniscule in the narrative about the natural world?

Nature always will reinvent herself, discovering ways to become anew.



“Life as We Know It: Plant and animal species are disappearing faster than at any time in recorded history. We know who is to blame” by The Editorial Board of The New York Times (which represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher and does not include  the newsroom and the Op-Ed sections) wrote this poignant editorial. Here is a quote from the piece:

As The Times’s Brad Plumer recently noted, many ecologists insist that species are worth saving on their own, that it’s simply morally wrong to drive any living creature to extinction. The new report deliberately adds a powerful practical motive to the spiritual one: Biodiversity loss, it says, is an urgent issue for human well-being, providing billions and billions of dollars in what experts call “ecosystem services.” Wetlands clean and purify water. Coral reefs nourish vast fish populations that feed the world. Organic matter in the soil nourishes crops. Bees and other threatened insects pollinate fruits and vegetables. Mangroves protect us from floods made worse by rising seas. “Most of nature’s contributions are not fully replaceable,” the report says. But humans can stop or at least limit the damage. One critical task is to protect (and if possible to enlarge) the world’s natural forests, which, according to a recent paper by eminent ecologists in Science Advance, are home to fully two-thirds of the world’s species.

You can view the full editorial here.

Posted in Collage, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 28) – Allium Photomontage

06 May 2019


Allium 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. 


Spring creates a higher level of coloration, form, lines. shape and tones: an architectural patina that is in plain view for our admiration. The drama unfolds with a clear sense about the power of this visual voice—a visual voice that resonates as each day unfolds.

Mother Nature goes about her duties with full force, not dependent on our participation or noticing. But quite the opposite for us. Humans are dependent on nature’s well being and presence. As humanity poisons the air, water and ourselves, nature responds with raging storms and wide-spread drought. The balance is untethered.

Still, as Spring marches forward, there is a profound awakening that inspires the heart and gives meaning to daily revelations. One notices the architecture of a flower, of a tree, of a river, of the skyline. The surge of the season gives some level of hope.

As we stand encircled by the sky, it can overwhelm and remind that it performs miracles with its cunning history of predictable and unpredictable aesthetic and physical elements. The sky holds the past in its layers, shapes that dissipate and re-emerge with courageous vengeance. Clear skies, billowy clouds, starry nights, moonlit hours, daylight harmony, warmth and chill, sublime and outrageous. 

The technique of photomontage offers me the opportunity to tell one or multiple stories—stories that reveal content, context and texture of the universe: open pathways as well as silence about nature and human nature’s journey. This technique also gives ample incentive to ponder how to interpret the results.

Such a photographic creation allows me to partner with Mother Nature, even as I know that is an imaginary relationship that I embrace. The image above has an urgency to revere the brilliant gifts that nature offers: a sky that helps to sustain the natural world and an example of nature’s bounty. Both demonstrate nature’s bounty and majesty.

The burst of the allium toward the joyful and triumphant cloud-filled sky expresses the effect that the natural world has upon me. Mother nature enlivens the day, enlivens optimism, encourages experimentation and incites inspiration.

And often what is seen speaks entirely for itself. Nothing else needs to be spoken or written. And that’s much of my reaction to the above image: a silent yet vocal source of glorious exuberance.




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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 27): Trees – The Parts as the Sum of the Whole

29 April 2019


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

Parts of the Whole Collage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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


If we’re fortunate the first sighting of the day includes something in the natural world. While sipping a hot cup of morning inspiration, wouldn’t it be uplifting to spy upon a forest of trees, or at least one grandmother of a tree.

As I slowly awakening, I inhale another day, another chance to be mesmerized by the universe. And to savor elements  of nature that always includes a singular tree or groupings. 

After my intentions for the day’s are achieved, I inject a mark upon my ongoing experimentation with creativity and the creative process. These aesthetic adventures  swing from photography to writing, re-designing inner and outer spaces, plunging into new and old ideas, challenging my standards of illusion and reality, discovering the unexpected, piercing the unknown. And my attention to explore photographic images has resides in the continuum that nature offers. 

My allegiance to nature has been more than a bonus of noticing; it literally has saved me in times of the good, the in-between and the not-so-good. Every day this partnership surges with spiritual renewal that shores the ebb and flow of my existence.

In the Lens section is a collage of six variations on one of the most important of Mother nature’s progeny: the tree. Recently, I’ve been foraging for trees that represent their symbolism as community partners with and among other trees. But I also am fascinated with the way that the seen and unseen affects the outcome of my final image.

Pre-spring offers opportunity to truly see parts of arboreal elements that are clothed in spring, summer and autumn: the parts as sum of the whole. It’s a chance to marvel at the aesthetic qualities that seem less worthy of our eyes when they feature such incredibly significant parts.


I’m about to start Nathaniel Rich’s new book, Losing Earth, 2019, one of a number of recent and well-reviewed publications about climate change and the health of the planet. Here is a quote from the book that speaks volumes about Earth, humanity and our future:

“Everything is changing about the natural world and everything must change about the way we conduct our lives. It is easy to complain that the problem is too vast, and each of us is too small. But there is one thing that each of us can do ourselves, in our homes, at our own pace — something easier than taking out the recycling or turning down the thermostat, and something more valuable. We can call the threats to our future what they are. We can call the villains villains, the heroes heroes, the victims victims and ourselves complicit. We can realize that all this talk about the fate of Earth has nothing to do with the planet’s tolerance for higher temperatures and everything to do with our species’ tolerance for self-delusion. And we can understand that when we speak about things like fuel-efficiency standards or gasoline taxes or methane flaring, we are speaking about nothing less than all we love and all we are.”

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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 26) A Single Spring Flower and its Healing Power

22 April 2019


Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Small Spring Tulip; 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. 


For me everyday is Earth Day. Still, the first organized celebration (22 April 1970) of the planet was a chance to bring “us” together and show reverence for the place that sustains life as we know it. In the almost thirty years since that organized tribute much has changed in this age of Anthropocene, which is the current epoch where human activity has brought environmental consequences and havoc upon our natural world and thus us.

Gardens as spirituality is part of my religious center. My identity is wrapped in Mother nature’s continuum of gifts. Regardless of the season—and I am fortunate to live where four are experienced—nature tips into my day delicious visual jewels. Every morning I gaze at my surroundings, and am offered a landscape that always gives elements of inner peace.

Whether it’s the physical landscape or birds busily beginning their daily duties or billowy clouds drifting westward, I start the day with some sense that nature is the quintessential master of the universe. The level of comfort may vary, but sometimes the smallest  realizations and reminders brings enormous comfort in a world that seems to be struggling in a tangled mess of power-hungry and misguided egos.

Nature rescues me from slipping into a malaise; she shores the energy from family and friends, always there to inspire, to pull the dark curtain and let the light cast its spell: nurturing and nourishing. And the spirit is fed with the knowledge that another day will rise and give meaning through nature as bounty and sanctuary.

Below in the Note section is an article that focuses on the healing power of gardens, nature as cultivated and maintained by humans. Regardless of the venue, life is exponentially enriched with every excursion to a garden. A friend’s garden can serve as a reservoir to build the mind’s elation. A professionally-designed garden can inspire and sooth. Whether voyeur or participant, both mine the energy felt in the presence of nature. 

While gardens are known to be spiritually uplifting, a single flower can do equal justice to create a feeling of well-being. In the Lens section is such an example. That lone spring tulip brings a sense of calm, and foreshadows the glorious technicolor of the season.

Spring erases thoughts of wintry greys with its chill. Spring releases adrenalin that brings forward movement to spark sensibilities and awareness of a world ready for new possibilities–possibilities that are shored by seasonal surprise and wonder.  

My hope is that on this Earth Day greater and greater efforts will be put into place to assure us that four seasons will be the continued reality of our world. That we will work as one global community to heal the earth as she heals us.


On 18 April 2019 the Opinion column (“Oliver Sacks: The Healing Power of Gardens By Oliver Sacks”) in The New York Times cited some excerpts from “Everything in Its Place,” which is a posthumous collection of writings by Dr. Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) who was a neurologist and author of many books. Here are some of his comments that support the way nature can be a natural healer. Then the complete article can be viewed here.

“I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.”

“Clearly, nature calls to something very deep in us. Biophilia, the love of nature and living things, is an essential part of the human condition. Hortophilia, the desire to interact with, manage and tend nature, is also deeply instilled in us. The role that nature plays in health and healing becomes even more critical for people working long days in windowless offices, for those living in city neighborhoods without access to green spaces, for children in city schools or for those in institutional settings such as nursing homes. The effects of nature’s qualities on health are not only spiritual and emotional but physical and neurological. I have no doubt that they reflect deep changes in the brain’s physiology, and perhaps even its structure.”





Posted in Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 25) – “Exposing the Soul of Nature” Photomontage

15 April 2019


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

Exposing the Soul of Nature; 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. 


Maybe it’s too bold to title my latest photomontage, “Exposing the Soul of Nature.” How could I possibly discover the inner spirit of Mother Nature? How could I possibly excavate the place where the entire universe blossoms into a source of living light? My immediate reaction to my image was that very space: the imagining of the very essence. To ponder the well that is the heart of our natural universe is to filter through the outer layers to reveal what is never, ever visible. Science can provide most answers, but still there are the mysteries and the yet-to-be discovered.

It’s my illusion, my imagination at the pulse of this abstraction. It could quite possibly be re-imagined tomorrow. And in doing so I carefully and with love put with reverence for nature in my treasure trove of the possible.

In the Lens section is the photomontage in question. After I had completed it, I immediately began to see the parts that make the whole. There are light and dark areas, the positive and negative spaces, the stripping of all that seems to embellish the branches of life. Two photographs–a willowy naked tree and a close-up of snow-covered rocks–create this one symbolic gesture. They combine to unveil an inner sanctum where chaos equals calm and quiet and vice versus, where the chaos equals the tangled mess of life.

The silence exposes nature’s spirit and soul, the very grandeur and omniscience that embraces us as we journey through life. The place where we settle our inner debts, where we come to understand our relationship to the whole.


Information is knowledge and power. No subject is exempt, and more than ever we need to be informed about global warming and climate change. The New York Times Magazine devoted yesterday’s issue to these serious and life-threatening issues. Earth Day is next week, and it is apt to celebrate and also be alarmed. The Times’ introduction to articles begins with four words as the solution to our planetary woes: “Stop burning greenhouse gases.” Articles range from “The Economist’s Dilemma” to “Hedging Against the Apocalypse” to “What Survival Looks Like After the Oceans Rise.” You can read one of the articles by clicking here.

Posted in Abstraction, Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Traveling and Travels | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No.24) – The Greening of Spring

01 April 2019


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

Greening of Spring Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Greening of Spring 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. 


As I drove home through a wildlife sanctuary, a single query kept me focused. When I see a scene does another person truly see what I do? When I see a tree from one direction, how does my mind fixate on its interpretation, and someone else spy a different configuration. Ultimately, how we analyze our visual universe becomes a matter of individual perception, and motivated by our communication through words. Images become language. Language as a human construct is how we navigate in and among our world.

The English art critic and author John Berger (1926-2017) introduced his influential ideas about our observations of the world in his ground-breaking book, Ways of Seeing (1972; I recommend the original book over the BBC series of the same title, which can be found on YouTube). His premise was that what is in our sights is observed before it is translated into words. This idea seems simple but it carried wide implications, and today continues to carry huge weight. Berger used art to explain his ideas, and it made for a perfect theme for his theory.

“But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.” ~~ John Berger

Each of us has a precise and even at times malleable point of view (based on nature vs. nurture, knowledge experience and…) that is reflected in our interpretation of the outer world. Within our unique character we edit how we see, include, exclude, respond.

Spring greatly influences the trajectory of my mind’s meanderings, and its appearance as slow, cantor or gallop seems to prove its power over me. During that journey into the countryside the forest was on the edge of fully awakening and wildflowers were scattered  in plain view and just waiting for approval. The excess of rain this winter has produced perky varieties and ones usually in hiding. Seeing becomes a joyous exploration.

Other more obvious signs of the season are the budding and leafing of early blooming trees. Each conjures small miracles that pervades the landscape and catches us in its visual grasp. That array of flowering and leaf unfolding is mesmerizing every spring; it has a fantastical essence, bringing exuberance just when the spirit needs a boost from winter’s grey ambiance.

In the Lens section is my attempt to create a composite that exemplifies what sparks my senses during the season’s arrival and progress. The photomontage expresses the grace of the branch of a hornbeam as it covets the blooming of spring’s greenery, giving hope in the promise. That welling of emotion that I feel comes from those hues that become emblematic of the season, awakening from hibernation and giving meaning to nature’s awe-inspiring bounty. In but a few weeks everything in view will startle and secure what we see; everything we see will force us to pay attention to the majesty of the earth and nature as master of the universe.

There is no better time to test our ways of seeing than during a change in seasons. each  season incites in me an improvisational seeing: soulful reaction to the gifts of a landscape tempered with memory, time and the present. I’m ready for the greening of spring and my heart.





Posted in Digital Art, Human Nature, Language, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments