Phoneography Challenge, the Phone as Your Lens: Black and White

21 October 2103


1. Embreeville Bridge, PA, iPhone 4s, October 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

1. Embreeville Bridge, PA, iPhone 4s, October 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Embreeville Bridge, PA, October 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

2. Embreeville Bridge, PA, October 2013; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2013

Let me know which you prefer and why.


If you’d like to join the fun, please click here for details. If you have any questions about the Phoneography Challenge, please contact me.

One of my favorite photographic themes is bridges. I scout them here and there and anywhere. The serendipitous is the most joyful. Even the simplest of designs can entice my visual sensibilities.

On a recent overcast day I was driving in the back country, headed toward Downingtown, Pennsylvania. As I maneuvered a sharp turn, a bridge filled my sight line. The light rain turned to mist, and I was forced to park and savor the view.

The scene was framed by vintage nostalgia–filled with the monochrome of pre-technicolor film. While the visual acuity was reduced, my senses were spiked by the combination of elements before me. It had lush contrast and gradation.

Instantly, I was reminded of a recent lecture about the British photographer Bill Brandt. Sarah Hermanson Meister, Curator in the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York, delivered a punchy talk at the annual art history lecture series at the University of Delaware. Much of the content came from the exhibition, which she curated for the museum titled “Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light,” and was held March 6–August 12, 2013 (view full description of the show here). On a Website about Brandt you can learn more about him as an artist. Click here.

Shadow and Light, 2013

Bill Brandt Shadow and Light, by Sarah H. Meister, 2013

Bill Brandt

“Ear in Landscape,” 1957, by Bill Brandt

Meister engaged the audience with Brandt’s photographs that easily shored her analysis of his startling ability to see the world. He was one of England’s greatest twentieth-century photographers, and previously underrated to be sure. He focused on social documentary, landscapes, nudes, and portraiture, and his work shows an affinity for modernism, which he helped introduce.

“Shadow and Light” is an apt title for this retrospective that displayed over 200 photographs and snapshots. Each showed his command of monochrome–the dark and the light, the subtle and blatant. But his attention to the photographic process and composition were only part of his genius.

Brandt would have loved phoneography. His editing was relentless, and three-quarters of his prints were retouched either in or outside the darkroom. He would have adored the range of apps available to manipulate stilled images. He was known for cropping his subjects up close and then even closer.

Brandt is lesser known than his colleagues, which surprises me. I have become fascinated by his vision–his need to comprehend the visual arena. He illuminated and painted the world through an ongoing process of seeing–a seeing that the retrospective help to expose.

Tip of the Week: Black-and-white photography is very much about shadow and light. Time and innovative technology have not altered that fact. For those of us who did not see Brandt’s work at MOMA, Meister’s book, Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light, is the next best way to dive into his photography. To purchase it, you can browse through various options on Amazon by clicking here. A review of the book can be found here. Please take the opportunity to be astounded by his artistic eye.

View other entries:

Note: As always I welcome any comment about this post or any part of my blog. Here’s a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Phoneography Challenges:

1st Monday: Nature

2nd Monday: Macro

3rd Monday: Black and White

4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

This entry was posted in Black-and-White Photography, Design, Human Nature, Photography, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Phoneography Challenge, the Phone as Your Lens: Black and White

  1. Mark Kertesz says:

    I love monochrome so to me I’m drawn to both however the second wins out. I like the over all composition and balance to this one.

  2. bluebrightly says:

    I like the grainy processing on both, and maybe I like the composition of the fist one better, but I’m not sure. They’re very nice, both of them.

  3. amykrohn says:

    I like the second photo. The foreground zips the viewer back to the bridge. Great depth!

  4. You do have a breathe taking way to make black and white so beautiful. Thanks for making me smile.

  5. Beautiful and captivating!

  6. patriciamoed says:

    Hi Sally! Great shots, as always. I especially like the texture of the metallic walkway in the second shot. The b/w really highlights it.

  7. Su Leslie says:

    Both great photos, but I particularly love the second. It is somehow more ethereal, and I like the way the metallic bridge just seems to end. Here’s my contribution: a much more personal challenge post than usual.

  8. Because of the light foliage, your photographs remind me of infrared photography.

  9. Nancy Power says:

    I think I like the first one best. Straight away I thought of Beauty and the Beast, for some reason! Love the eeriness of it.

  10. FireBonnet says:

    I really like the first one. I’m struck by the layers in the image. The river at the bottom, then the vines, then the field and the bridge and finally the woods. I like how the vines on the right mirror the movement of the bridge … both lead the eye to the mist like light and the entrance to the woods. Was it a damp day? There is a feeling of moisture in the capture. Beautiful job on both. Meghan
    PS… I’m so happy I found this challenge. Here is a link to my first entry.

  11. Fun for me to see sights I am acquainted with in a new, mysterious way. Thanks!

  12. Cassie says:

    Thank you for setting up the perfect challenge for me, for my first stab at challenges. It is out of my comfort zone but easily doable and a heap of rewards.

    I prefer the second photo. Bridges evoke many different feelings for me depending on the view, but a woodland path is one of my favorites. Its adventure and journey. This one reminds me of a new journey, exciting, unknown.

    here is my stab at it:

  13. Sally — Fine display of your iThingie acumen. It’s another toss-up for me, but I’ll lean a bit in favor of frame #2; I like the low angle view with the two prominent lines just missing each other, like ships passing in the night. Nicely done. Here’s my B&W offering: A Phoneographic Philm Noir —

  14. I would love to hear what the ole time photographers would say about how we do things now…great photos Sally.

  15. Gallivanta says:

    Both photos have a misty, ghostly quality which makes them seem very old as if they were taken when the bridge was first built.

  16. marialla says:

    Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. What fantastic pictures!! My head is abuzzing with the stories and poems they can inspire. Thank you very much. Mari

  17. Both photos are great but I think I like the first one best. I love the way the bridge takes me into the mysterious forest!

  18. Amar Naik says:

    Hi sally, these are beautiful photos. I liked both of them. Which software do you use to edit?
    below is my entry of this week.

  19. I prefer the second photo. I am invited in. I can imaging walking on that bridge. Happy Monday.

  20. Hi Sally I like the second photo for the light and shade. 🙂 Here’s my entry to the challenge

  21. icastel says:

    Both shots are great, but I’d vote for the first one. Although the second one gives a nice sense of depth, the angle on the first shot just seems to work better for my taste 🙂

    Not as imaginative or nicely processed as yours, Sally, but my entry can be found at ….

  22. pattisj says:

    I prefer the bridge angle in the first one. In the second, the foreground tries to steal the show, detracting from the bridge.

  23. I like the strength of the diagonals in the second photo.

  24. Steve says:

    I like the first one best as the bridge is the only thing I focused on. Here’s mine, and thanks for these challenges:

  25. livvy30 says:

    Thanks for stopping by my new blog. This is the only challenge I’m going to keep on, so I will be posting and joining in over the next couple of days!

  26. NotManhattan says:

    The eeriness of the first image makes that the winner in my book but I do enjoy both!

  27. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like the second photo, it blends the graphic elements of the bridge and the landscape around it very well. The railing and diamond-plate walkway really draw attention to the main subject.

    Here is my entry for this week’s challenge:

  28. I thought it looked like it was taken in the night-time until I read that it was taken in the rain. I like #1, but #2 draws you in promising dramatic possibilities of what lurks in the darkness beneath the bridge 🙂

  29. Both are great pictures Sally, I like the top one because it gives a sweeping sense of the environment both manmade and natural–with nature the dominant force. It sort of reminds me of how we struggle to tame nature but in the end, nature wins.

  30. Lignum Draco says:

    I prefer the first one, just for the more subtle tones. More like a dream.

  31. Angeline M says:

    I like the first one with just the hedge in the foreground, it seems to emphasize the bridge more, and this angle seems to give the bridge more depth.
    I’m anxious to read about Bill Brandt, thanks for leading us to him in this post.
    Here is my entry for the week:

  32. titaniummike says:

    Hi Sally,
    I strongly prefer the first picture. I can follow the lines in the second, but there’s something about the metal surface of the bottom bridge that disturbs me, it doesn’t fit in the picture in my opinion.
    The first one however, the old bridge looks even broken, ending in infinity in an almost rainforest. A forgotten place. Taken over by nature. I love it.

    • This image proves that one must stop and contemplate what is seen. I was able to get a vantage one, and the quiet of the mist and the quiet on the bridge were inspiring. Thank you for your comment and visit.

  33. Sally, as always it’s difficult to decide which photo I like better, although this week I tend towards the second. The first draws my eye towards the forest on the other side of the bridge, while the second has a much closer, more immediate focus. Is that the old bridge on the right of the second photo or just a walking bridge?

    I also want to let you know how much I appreciate you putting the challenge out early in the morning. I’m one of the those bloggers who usually sets my posts to go live at 2 am, so waiting until mid-day, as happens with some challenges, is agony for me. 🙂

    Have a marvelous Monday!


    • Yes, it’s the same bridge, just from a different angle. The smaller pathway caught my attention–as a companion to the older bridge and led me closer to the creek. Thanks so much for your comment. See you soon.

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