Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 12 (Coneflower Photomontage)

18 September 2017

Lens:

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

Coneflower Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Coneflower 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:

In less than a week autumn will be official. Throughout the summer one floral star and a diminutive bird have been preparing for their most serious duty. Both have been ablaze for much of the season. But in August and September the flower and the bird perform their high wire acts: acts that are aimed at a late breeding season, nest-building and feeding.

Nature provides a sweet tale of this duo: the medicinal coneflower (Echinacea) and the sunny-yellow and night-black diminutive American goldfinch. Once the babies are born, seed heads become the center of the goldfinch’s daily existence. While tiny in size its visual impressions captivate, especially the male’s showy plumage. Paramount to mating is its brightly seductive coloration that woos the female, and humans cannot help gazing at the brush strokes of color.

Nature creates symbiotic relationships and certainly these two perform a duet that brings visual grace to the landscape. While the spritely aviators wait to nest until June or July when fibrous seeds are aplenty, the coneflower is readying itself with stately flowers most of summer’s days.

In my gardens I give ample space to a variety of native coneflowers (commonly called purple coneflower): ranging from white to pink to red, short and tall. Other thistle plants (e.g., milkweed and nyjer) also lure goldfinches. I’ve never seen any other bird imbibe upon the Echinacea’s nine species. It seems the sun-gold birds have priority.

In the Lens section is one variety of native coneflower with its startling and unique flower head, eloquent petals, and intensely lime-colored stem. It does everything to call attention to its presence and is rewarded for its efforts. These perennial daisy lookalikes charm with their long-lasting blooms, and even intrigue in their dried state with spiky needle-like seeds. They are true summer and autumn jewels, and in their dried stage stay on the landscape throughout the winter to serve as more food for the year-round goldfinches. Truly, this duo is a sampling of synergy and symbiosis in nature.

Note:

The environmental anxiety artist, Justin Brice Guariglia, has garnered my respect. It’s not just that he has donned himself with that bold description. More importantly, his work pays tribute and honors nature. Guariglia’s art tells the story of human intervention as it relates to the health and well-being of Mother Earth. Still, his moniker gives meaning to how many feel who create, and so strongly want to have more meaning through image making.

Mr. Guariglia’s art is multi-tiered. His large mixed media images create his vision of the physical world and climate change. Through art history, journalism, politics and science, he uses his art to tell  the ecological story of the Earth in present day time. His mission became clearer after he joined a NASA project in 2015 that recorded aerial views of Greenland.

His new exhibition titled “Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene” is being held at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA, (through 07 January 2018), and shows his large works that evoke topography through various techniques. He says his images are “somewhere between a photograph and a painting.”

View his website to see his work that is very much about art as a vehicle for climate education. His abstract images also are a vehicle to tell the story of nature’s fragility.

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in an Age of Uncertainty: No. 11 ( “Autumn Forecast” Photomontage)

11 September 2017

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Autumn Forecast Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Autumn Forecast 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:

“Capturing the wilderness connects the present with a past beyond my own. It connects us all to the earth, and our collective past.” ~~ Christopher Miller, photographer and writer

Each season is a study in time. And the next season that is illustrative is about to make its appearance.

Lately as I ease into the day, thoughts about autumn’s approach surface. Signs can be tallied in my gardens and across landscapes. The chill is in the air and temps are unseasonably low. In small doses leaves have begun their descent, scattered but evident of summer’s finale. And, of course we are in hurricane territory.

Autumn spans breezy to boisterous behavior, demanding a more in-depth understanding of what we see and know. It exudes content and context. Its palette is a range of emotional colors. It begs admiration. It secures scores of watchful minds.

In the Lens section are a few symbols of the movement into this new season (officially beginning 22 September). My goal was to create an arrangement that felt as though the flowers were floating in summer’s shadow. They soar with their need for attention and grace in the eyes of their life cycle.

The anemone is not purely white but still boasts of purity, allowing its eloquence to frolic in the winds. The obedient plant (top of the two smaller flowers) is a prolific native that blooms in August and seems to never give up its purple gaze. Its flower is truly eye-catching and an insect gatherer. The charm of the water lily’s flower (from Longwood Gardens) is its timely appearance, giving a breath of sweet color as it floats during its peak performance this month.

These examples of nature’s charm are part of the transition into a season that can provide such startling memories that one’s senses are now at the ready. Autumn grabs you in pre-season and it steers your course for weeks. Definitely, a study in time.

Nature is quite amazing to lead us into winter with this hurrah. And, fortunately, memories last through the somber months of cold and grey. These memories take one through a time of hibernation and planning anew. Sigh…

Each season aligns with our inner stars, moon and sun, reminding us of the layers of time that we are experiencing, reminding us of nature’s abundant jewels.

Note: I’ve always been enamored by floral design, especially minimalistic. But I learn from various approaches, even fuller-bodied arrangements. The compositions of Ariel Dearie are worth examining for their sculptural appeal and influence by Dutch painting. I am especially drawn to her designs that use a single color palette. View her work here.

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 10 (Wisteria Photomontage)

04 September 2017

Lens:

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

Wisteria Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Wisteria 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:

The charm of autumn’s approach is temporarily overshadowed by the demise of summer, that time when warmth still cuddles and envelops the mind and body. Mostly, this year’s summery days will be remembered for almost weekly grey and rainy days. Much has expanded and much contracted under those conditions.

In the Mid-Atlantic usually humidity is the culprit. It saps one’s energy and can enervate the spirit. Still, those signature summer days bring techni-color vistas and the emergence of a variety of wildlife. There is a multitude of splendor to discover and witness.

Even at the final days of summer surprises linger around every turn in gardens and forests. This week the shock waves included wisteria with boughs that usually only bloom in the spring. But there they were and descending with regal aplomb. It staggered my senses.

Wisteria is a plant that is needy. If not trimmed every week, its vines will become a vital force on my landscape, climbing human-made and nature-made structures. I am continually cultivating and maintaining it. No matter where I have moved, I have managed to train a wisteria into shapes that is less classic and more wild-like. It’s my aesthetic: free form and yet minimalistic.

The image in the Lens section is a perfect example of the unrelenting saga that finds the wisteria reinventing itself the entire summer season. It longs to please in an untamed manner, and still can be so virulent that it is staggering. I tweak its gentler side, giving it a modern touch of enthusiasm. The spray of light seen on its florets is symbolic of nature’s ray of hope.

Its vines wrap around my heart with a force and vigor. Their fragrance is yet another feature of paramount power and pull, the power and pull that sustains memory.

Note:

As this year dawned, the world loss one of the most influential mind’s of the twentieth and early twenty-first century. John Berger was trained as a visual artist, and he often described as a British art critic, cultural commentator, intellectual, and writer. He became well-known in 1972 when his book, The Art of Seeing, was made into a BBC series.

Click here to read the obituary from The New York Times: “John Berger, Provocatove Art Critic, Dies ar 90 (by Randy Kennedy, 02 January 2017).” Or another one from The New Yorker, “When John Berger Looked at Death (by Jacob, 09 January 2017).”

From The New Yorker piece: “In the print companion to the series, Berger stresses that visual art is a way of reckoning with entropy and loss. ‘Images were first made to conjure up the appearances of something that was absent,’ he writes. When we are separated from the people and things that we love—whether by oceans or by years—works of art testify to both their enduring gravity and their distance from us. Those works also generate new kinds of proximity. All paintings, Berger writes in Brief as Photos, ‘are prophecies of themselves being looked at’—they anticipate the viewers who will stand before them, long after they were made. That anticipation collapses distinct moments into one another, defying the absences that time creates.”

Berger’s work can create a new world for those interested in the visual. Years ago I discovered his books and other works, and they forever made a place on my shelves and in my thoughts.

 

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 38 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 9 (Rose and Chinese Hibiscus Photomontage)

28 August 2017

Lens:

Rose and Chinese Hydrangea Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Rose and Chinese Hydrangea Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 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:

My Ode to Mother Nature

The                                                                                                                                                               soft                                                                                                                                                      delicacy                                                                                                                                                           of                                                                                                                                                          another                                                                                                                                                     day,                                                                                                                                                 enveloping                                                                                                                                                and                                                                                                                                                      evolving                                                                                                                                                        with                                                                                                                                                      vibrancy                                                                                                                                                       and                                                                                                                                       transformation.

The                                                                                                                                                     delicacy                                                                                                                                                          of                                                                                                                                                                        a                                                                                                                                                                flower                                                                                                                                                     moves                                                                                                                                                           the                                                                                                                                                             day                                                                                                                                                     forward                                                                                                                                                         in                                                                                                                                                       harmony.

Nature’s                                                                                                                                       exuberance                                                                                                                                          creates                                                                                                                                                             a                                                                                                                                                                  nest                                                                                                                                                               in                                                                                                                                                                  the                                                                                                                                                              soul,                                                                                                                                                      shoring                                                                                                                                                        the                                                                                                                                                       center’s                                                                                                                                         endurance.

The soft lift of a flower.

Note:

In America and the world we face a crucial test of humanity. Will we pledge ourselves to do our part to stop climate change. One way to participate is to support an organization whose mission is to protect the planet. The World Wildlife Fund is devoted to that charge. From their website: “For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature.”As the “world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.” They focus on :”food, climate, fresh water, wildlife, forest and oceans.” Hope that you’ll visit their site, and consider donating. I have been supporting them for decades, and I’m always impressed with their reach and results.

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 8 (Coneflower and Hydrangea Photomontage)

21 August 2017

Lens:

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

Flower Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Flower 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:

America has become unrecognizable. Breathing and exhaling takes more effort; there’s a constant bombardment of rhetoric that scorches the heart and soul. The spirit feels injured, deflated. How, how could we be led by such a person? How can we endure what he represents?

One way is to allow the light to prevail, be more prevalent. The weightiness can be lifted, temporarily, secluding the dark and revealing beams to shore the inner world. I believe that dark cannot stifle light.

To pledge allegiance is to believe. Today’s belief must be substituted for uncertainty in collaboration with HOPE and persistence to recover the country’s moral center.

In the Lens section is my latest photomontage: a combination of coneflower and hydrangea. The conversion to black and white helps to detail the visual language of photography. It allows the words to bounce from the image and creates meaning that is wrapped in contrast, tone, shape, line, and effect of the monochromatic.

With the variation of these elements come a clearer frame of possibilities for each of us. Hold tight to one’s principles and never let them go.

Note:

James Balog is a nature photographer who has spent the last 30 years documenting the interconnection between nature and human nature. His images explore endangered animals, North America’s old-growth forests, and polar ice. From the National Geographic website: “Photographer James Balog, whose Extreme Ice Survey employs time-lapse cameras to document glaciers worldwide, has indisputable and visually stunning proof that ancient glaciers are disappearing at an alarming rate.” His work on this series began in 2007 with the mission to combine art and science to give a voice to the Earth’s ecosystem.

View (19.22 minutes) the TED talk in which he presents his Extreme Ice Project. Balog says, “When I realized that climate change was real, and it was not based on computer models, I decided that one day I would do a project looking at trying to manifest climate change photographically. And that led me to this project. Initially, I was working on a National Geographic assignment — conventional, single frame, still photography. And one crazy day, … I got the idea that I should shoot in time-lapse photography, that I should station a camera or two at a glacier and let it shoot every 15 minutes, or every hour or whatever and watch the progression of the landscape over time.” His project has become critical to study and understand the shift in ice formations, and how those changes will affect the planet. 

 

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 7 (Trees of Life Photomontage)

14 August 2017

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: How easy it would be to open this post as a whiner. Without debate, there is much to fuss and fume and seethe. But fate is a fancy word for turning away from possibilities and reality. And history tells us that the human psyche prevails in the most arduous of situations and times.

Instead of complaining I prefer to register degrees of gratitude for believing that the human spirit sees justice in the greater good, and will prevail.

A few months ago with a touch of good fortune I discovered the “ecology of ideas” of Rebecca Solnit. Years ago I first read her thoughts on the human condition, which spurred me to read more and more of her works. Her oeuvre explores subjects on the cultural, environmental, political and social implications of this existence on Mother Earth. She inspires me to be better.

Recently, she was interviewed for an article in The New York Times (“How Rebecca Solnit Became the Voice of the Resistance” by Alice Gregory, 08 August 2017). Here are some choice quotes:

‘‘I am interested in almost everything, and it can sometimes seem like a burden.’’ She cited Virginia Woolf and Henry David Thoreau as the writers most important to her: ‘‘Each of them wrote exquisitely about experiential, immediate encounters with the tangible world but could also be very powerful political polemicists. And the arc of their work describes a space in which you can be both.’’

‘‘…there are more than enough people telling us how horrific and terrible and bad everything is, and I don’t really need to join that project,’’ she said. ‘‘There’s a whole other project of trying to counterbalance that — sometimes we do win and this is how it worked in the past.’’ She continued, ‘‘Change is often unpredictable and indirect. We don’t know the future. We’ve changed the world many times, and remembering that, that history, is really a source of power to continue and it doesn’t get talked about nearly enough.’’

So I’ve chosen to follow Solnit on this quest to resist the negative, and focus on how to live in the smaller universe of my world within the larger universe. One surety running through my thoughts is that life on earth continues to redefine itself.

In the Lens section is my latest photomontage that honors this thinking, this personal philosophy. While there are moments of relapse into the dark, I will use this image to project that spirit. It’s really up to each of US to find our way in and through this new world order.

Truly, inner expansion breathes honor to protect the web of life. And life on earth does continue to redefine itself through the interaction between nature and human nature.

Note:

From TED Talks website: “Frans Lanting is one of the greatest nature photographers of our time. His work has been featured in National Geographic, Audubon and Time, as well as numerous award-winning books. Lanting’s recent exhibition, “The LIFE Project,” offers a lyrical interpretation of the history of life on Earth.”

Click here to watch the video (filmed in February 2005, runs 16.17 minutes) that shows Lanting’s project, “a poetic collection of photographs that tell the story of our planet, from its eruptive beginnings to its present diversity. Soundtrack by Philip Glass.”

 

 

 

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photomontage as Palette in an Age of Uncertainty: No. 6 (Hydrangea)

07 August 2017

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed, FX PhotoStudio and Pixlr.

Hydrangea Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Hydrangea 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:

Words are the wellspring of inner and outer survival. They bridge our days and nights between the world and ourselves. I’m always intrigued and thrilled to discover a single word that manages to express the depth and breath of a concept that often defies explanation. But that discovery often eludes, and can only be met with enthusiasm when found.

Sometimes a word of staggering significance can bemuse and surprise as it enters my universe. Yesterday was one of those moments that the new filled the synapses with a deep sigh of satisfaction. Anoesis is that space sought as a panacea for stress in the nuances and weight of everyday life. To be completely free of incoming thoughts that either buoy or sink our spirits is to be in lyrical balance. That place, that space is a precious respite for the mind’s best, mixed and sketchy work. It grabs the conscious and lets it free itself of the hard work. It’s close to other such mind’s work of curious mystery, not empty but closed to chatter and turmoil.

During the creative process there are spaces that are called flow, Alpha state, the zone and other such descriptors. Regardless, the act of creativity takes heavy lifting, and the mind knows it. It can seem effortless in the flow state, but in actuality we are busy immersing ourselves on the path to fulfillment. Quite the opposite of anoesis, which is a challenge to achieve.

While I have experienced the sensation of flow in various configurations, the exercise to create a photomontage can gracefully slip me into that arena of quietude as well as emotional and mental tranquility. It’s hard to delineate the precise notion of this state of focus, the confluence of concentration upon a specific act.

In the Lens section is an image that is a tribute to this summer’s overabundance of gorgeous hydrangeas. The landscape is abuzz with their tiny florets that form various size boughs and clusters. They are a prize for anyone’s observations.

In the throes of a few photo shoots, I found a hydrangea covered in soft colors from off-whites to soft pinks to bold purples to vocal blues. The image became a composite from that large plant, and reminds me of the state of simply being to effectively create a worthy image that bursts with enthusiasm.

After completion the image became a symbol of that place of flow: a place that brings experience upon experience into the mix to influence the visible and invisible realms of the ever-ever-evolving universe. The photomontage articulates the sensibilities of the image making as it is being made: a chaos that becomes softly noticeable and real. Then settles into itself, defining its meaning. The placement of image upon image releases a collaboration between what is seen and what it becomes, moving beyond the original to the new.

Note:

Recently, the article “Racing to Save the Reef” (by Glenn Kenny, The New York Times,        07 July 2017) introduced the latest documentary by the team that produced “Chasing Ice” (2012). “Chasing Coral” was launched by Netflix in July, and is a powerful contribution to materials that inform about climate change and its ramifications. It specifically focuses on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and how the oceans are being effected by the escalating alteration and volatility of the weather. To read an article about the film and its producers, click here. Here is another review of “Chasing Coral” about nature programming at its finest and most disturbing.

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