Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 4)

Lens:

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

Zinnia Bud and Flower Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Zinnia Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

I.

Bud and flower converge,                                                                                                          sparing nothing, not invisibility or transparency.                                                                             Or the history that binds each to the other.

Life as art                                                                                                                                               Nature as artist,                                                                                                                             Coexisting as creative partners,

Beams of lightning from the heart,                                                                                                   Flock like blossoms caught by the wind,                                                                                Unleashing the proverbial cup overflowing.                                                                                          As time refreshes our thirst for more.

II.

Blissfully awaiting, Streaks of light beams, Awakening to the stroke of a day’s radiance, Petals proclaiming their prize, A torch lit with patience and promise.

III.

For years I’ve been smitten with buds and the underside of flowers. More often these elements of nature are unseen, being overshadowed by faces of their blossoms. The zinnia in the Lens section is an example, showing a collage of the same zinnia at two different stages of development: the parts usually unnoticed.

This smaller variety of the pink annual was planted late in the summer. Because the landscape continues to be less vibrant as the season changes, this diminutive brought zest to chillier days. I picked the last few this week. The eloquence of the scalloped black edges and its emerald shadings of the bud mesmerized. I was captivated.

Instantly, this discovery reenforced how the hidden are aesthetic treasures to be realized. This small gem reveals what we can so easily miss in our daily lives: the coexistence of bud and flower with their visual appeal as inseparably; their history linked by interdependence. Needing patience to see how they illuminate each others’ presence.

Note:

John Muir (1838-1914) was an icon—an icon who was an early supporter of the national parks system. Muir spent his life exploring the wild, and working to preserve and protect its natural and cultural resources. In 1892 he founded and became the first president of the Sierra Club. Here are a few examples of Muir’s  philosophy:

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears.”

“The practical importance of the preservation of our forests is augmented by their relations to climate, soil and streams.”

 

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Posted in Collage, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 3)

15 October 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+. Edited in Snapseed.

Bradford Pear Leaf; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Leaf of Bradford Pear Tree; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Taken in Polamatic. Edited in Snapseed.

Leaf of Bradford Pear Tree; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Leaf of Bradford Pear Tree II; 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:

15 October 2018

Transformation has many faces. None is more obvious and symbolic of  how nature shifts the purpose of a tree’s leaf in autumn. As this season progresses, nature’s palette ranges from quiet presence to megaphonic loud. Each autumn is dependent on the temperatures  and its effects upon the gradual or instantaneous release of chlorophyll. It’s a puzzle as to the visual changes that will leave a season memorable or so so. Discovery is a mainstay during each season, but definitely on high alert in the autumnal months. 

The arch of autumn leaves is a symbol of the season, and easily demonstrated by images in the Lens section. The Bradford tree, a mostly unwelcome citified non-native, has its most appeal as its leaves begin this season’s transformation. Each year discovery after discovery brings a level of awe and wonder. As in the Lens section where the two images were collected within days of each other.

While these plantings are no longer desirable (once they were planted en masse in cities and towns), the mature one in my backyard amazes as the weather cools and a certain mystery appears in one’s visual plane. In truth you must be aware, keeping alert to the unusual in nature.

Even though some of the leaves do not grip one’s attention, there are a percentage that do. As each leaf descends, possibilities abound. I have witnessed few other plants and trees (hydrangeas and maples) whose fallen leaves can so consistently bring such unique results from the loss of chlorophyll. While many are nondescript, each season brings a few outstanding designs—designs that mesmerize and instill instant joy.

There is an innocence to the aged leaf’s ability to keep giving (once fallen, I use them as mulch to winter over on my gardens). They have given their personal best in spring and summer, and now they are gold for composting and protecting plants. Their worth seems to expand with time.

Visual effects can overwhelm, and the cadence of autumn leaves are truly one of nature’s most pleasurable. While for some they may seem small in their gifts, But for me they bring an emotional and spiritual awakening that fills my senses. They are existential symbols of nature’s monumental and relentless magnificence. They match the old saying, “Big things can in small packages,” which is an astute way of saying that a jewel can be teeny or mammoth. Certainly, a leaf offers a glistening reminder that nature provides in vastly different ways from mountain ranges to sunsets to wildflowers peeking from a crack in the sidewalk. 

Note:

“Perhaps the rewards of solving climate change are so compelling, so nurturing and so natural a piece of the human soul that we can’t help but do it.”

The above quote is the final sentence in the article “Stopping Climate Change is Hopeless. Let’s Do it: It begins with how we live our lives every moment of every day” (from the The New York Times Opinion section, published on 06 October 2018). The authors Auden Schendler and Andrew P. Jones make a compelling argument for each of us to serve our communities in an ongoing effort to save the planet and therefore humanity.

Mr. Schendler is a climate activist and businessman, the author of “Getting Green Done.” Mr. Jones creates climate simulations for the nonprofit Climate Interactive, which contributed climate scenarios to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Read the entire article here.

 

 

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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 2)

08 October 2018

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic. Edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Coexistence #2, Crepe Myrtle Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Coexistence #2, Crepe Myrtle (‘Fantasy’) Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

Every day reality and variations on its theme can give us pause, concern or deep angst. Often the mind’s eye sees less and sometimes more of what the universe provides. The continuum between illusion, subject and mystery can be become apparent or hide forever.

Abstraction folds and enfolds ideas that seemingly are less defined by the eye. But the mind can interpret and re-interpret an expansive non-representational image. The same elements that we interpret a realistic photograph also are found in abstract photography.

To parallel nature is to see the range of what she offers. The pure image with its layers of 2-D and 3-D recognizable qualities can beguile. And the abstract can equally impress the synapses, allowing them to imagine various scenarios. One sees with new perspective and the mind invents subjects where there are none. The joy is in the discovery, the mind being free to flow itself into unknown territory.

Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia fauriei ‘Fantasy) is a stunning tree with bark that sheds in autumn. Those natural shavings curl and fold as they drape and hang onto the tree’s trunk. Their appeal, especially in the full force of the setting sun’s glow, is radiant colors that fill the spectrum from pink, orange, grayish white, and black (shadows). Each adds to the visual dance, which captured my attention one late afternoon last week. It’s an abstract performance that must be appreciated.

The image in the Lens section is my attempt to build a more intense abstraction from the bark’s colors and shapes. Colors deepen and form morphs. While the mind roams, interpretation is limitless. Or one can simple be with the reality, basking in the layers of the tree’s magic.

This photomontage repeats one of my ongoing themes: out of the dark layers of the real comes the light of hope. I wish with all my heart that the powers that are destroying more of our sacred earth could see the reality of their assault. That they would wake up and have an epiphany of what is truly important: the bond and partnership between nature and human nature that urgently must continue.

Note:

“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.”

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), who was a biologist and conservationist, in the 1940s said, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” His views were part of the initial ecological movement. Today scientists use resilience (instead of stability) to define that relationship. Leopold’s philosophy also applies to human communities: their beauty, integrity and resilience. To learn more about Leopold’s philosophy, read his most influential book, A Sand County Almanac (1949) and a sundry of other books about his call for humanity to develop a land ethic. In 1999 For the Health of the Land was published. It released previously unpublished essays and other writings. His work strongly resonates in light of today’s critical concerns about climate change.

 

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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 1)

01 October 2018

Lens:

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

Coexistence #1; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Nature Photography: Coexistence # 1; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

Semi-solitude has cradled me for weeks. This spiritual place was a pause to contemplate and recuperate. Time, of course, continued in the wake of my own slow movement forward.

No need for details, just to say that the other side of weeks and weeks of observation inwardly and outwardly is a delicious chance for new experimentation and self-expansion in ways yet to be realized.

The image in the Lens section seems apt, having meaning beyond the frame holding the secrets of multiple exposures. The edges of light pushing through the layers are beginning to emerge, in heart, in action, in thought. The image is lit to show the way hope appears in subtle ways, the way that optimism can be an inspiration.

The delicacy of spring-blooming climbing hydrangea continues as blossoms enter various stages, drying over the summer months and spying on the sun’s rays. This one plucked and aged flower bract displays the slow loss of its outer face into another façade. The redefined flower is edged in fancy paper-thin petals, lacy and barely visible, but gloriously showy and exuberant. As each layer is created, so is the testament to nature’s bounty for survival. As I added multiple layers of other dried flowers, the image grew in meaning and substance.

The sanctuary of the last two months has given me perspective. And as a result a (slightly) new direction is allowing me to re-imagine my days and blogging life. While commentary and themes about nature will continue to combine with our tenuous times, I’ve always pushed the positive through Mother Nature’s role as the master of the universe. As she works with the help and hindrance from the human condition, Mother Nature acts as the quintessential guardian of the planet.

I pledge to show the inner and outer folds of the natural world, and use my blog as a platform to soothe (I hope) my readers and me. I aim to show how coexistence and symbiosis between nature and human nature is necessary for the well-being of the universe.

As I observe with a nuanced and focused view, the fertile and verdant forest of visual language will be my front seat view. It will be a tangled and wild garden of multiple surprises where the cultivated, tamed and untamed are appreciated and admired. And in that process create various ways to see wildlife. Through double exposures and various layers, the natural world will be shown with adoration and reverence. Nothing is singularly on its own, and certainly nature’s bounty is effervescent and evergreen.

With my focus on coexistence there will be a leaning into the injustice being done by the current administration as it tries to dismantle the work of our ecosystem that has and is being done to honor the planet, work that uses science to show how humans have become the largest contributor to the decline of the planet’s health. My approach uses nature and its intersection with human nature to honor collaboration not assault, and subsequently be a co-collaborator its glorious effects upon humanity.

Strikingly important in my pursuit is the spiritual beauty that surrounds us. I do not have to travel (Although I am smitten with destinations new and old, and do seek their adventures.) to discover a bountiful moment of awe and wonder. They are in my gardens, cities and farms, open spaces, cultivated landscapes, and even the abandoned. Truly, the lure of nature is everywhere from the tiniest wildflowers to invasive  species to native plants to cracks in the sidewalk to shadows on a wall. We just must stop and observe.

I will continue to follow a trail through the cultivated wild, the wilderness and the unknown that is visible and invisible to the naked eye. Our sacred ecosystem gives me hope and optimism. Nature will always have the last say, and I am grateful for that truism.

Note:

On the search for uplifting commentary about climate change, I found an inspirational example that speaks volumes about the joys of nature. View this music painting called “The Coexistence of Humans and Nature: A Sheet Music,” which was published by the Sierra Club (by Stacey M. Hollis, 20 November 2014; 4:04 minutes). It’s a tribute to human innovation and the way in which we give nature an elevated platform through art.

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

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

06 August 2018

Lens:

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

Floral Abstraction; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Floral Abstraction; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

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

The truth challenges unchecked power.

The truth exposes a crisis of ethics.

The truth examines due process.

 

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

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

30 July 2018

Lens:

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

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

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

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

Pens:

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

23 July 2018

Lens:

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

Succulent Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Succulent Photomontage; All Rights Reserved Sally W. Donatello

Succulent Leaf Photomontage; All Rights Reserved Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

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

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

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

Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments