Phoneography Challenge, Your Phone as Your Lens: Food Photography (Bubbles, Series One: Oil and Water)

24 February 2014


1. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

1. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

2. Oil and Water, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

2. Oil and Water, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

3. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

3. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

4. Oil and Water, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

4. Oil and Water, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

5. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

5. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

6. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

6. Oil and Water with Paper, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

7. Oil and Water, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

7. Oil and Water, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

Let me know which you prefer and why.


During my last post (click here) I discussed the evergreen quality of photography, and its current metamorphosis that allows non-traditional digital cameras and filmless devices to create images. This technology has turned the photograph into something recognizable as well as foreign-like. Even in the wake of ongoing innovation and invention, photographers are fearless, staying true to their own vision and developing or maintaining a personal style.

Over the last year those considerations changed the iPhoneography Challenge into the Phoneography Challenge. To make this weekly event more inclusive and sensitive to the reshaping of photography, it’s time to re-title the Challenge and dovetail more fully with the transitory technology-induced nature of this medium.

The convergence and divergence of the digitally-printed or uploaded image also has made for an impressive reign of technology. Still, photography has been unyielding as an art.

The new title should be able to accommodate and reflect the scores of photographers who are exploring these devices and techniques to create their photographs. Additionally, responses to my questions from the 03 February post included a desire to add (along with Smartphones) other devices such as iPods, iPads (plus other tablets) scanners, and various digital tools for photo capture and manipulation.

This challenge is a tribute to the new, which illuminates the SLR and DSLR as a tool for the creative process. Here are a few titles to consider. I welcome variations on them or other suggestions.

Here is the list in no particular order. PLEASE VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE. OR LET ME KNOW YOUR IDEAS about current trends that encourages greater latitude in photographic techniques and tools.

1. Mobileography Challenge, using Digital, Filmless Devices as Your Lens

2. Mobile Photography Challenge using Digital (non-SLR/DSLR), Filmless Devices

3. Mobile Photography Challenge using Non-SLR/DSLR Digital, Filmless Devices

4. Photography Challenge using Filmless, Non-Traditional Digital Devices

5. Mobileography Challenge, using Alternative Filmless, Non-Traditional Devices for Photography

6. Photography Challenge, Using Non-SLR Digital, Filmless Devices as Your Lens

My hope is that increasing inclusion in the challenge will broaden participation and readership. This transition from analog to digital has become part of the collective unconscious, and now mobile masters are becoming more and more part of the world of fine art.

Other reactions to the questions from the 03 February post focused on my inquiry about a virtual juried exhibition as well as introductions and interviews with well-know photographers that have bridged the new and old technology. Those who responded were enthusiastic about both ideas. Stay tuned for them to be developed within the next year and a half.

I have not embraced other social media besides WordPress. This forum to build interaction with other online photo communities was mentioned by a few participants. For the present, I will stick with WordPress, but certainly consider other social media engagement in the future. Comments anyone?

If you are sequestered for a period of time in your home, there will always be a subject to capture. Think about shooting still and moving objects that produce a likeness or abstraction of the object. For months I’ve been contemplating bubbles–that marvelous activity that indulge children’s fancy and laughter. Truly, all ages are intrigued by the seemingly magical surprise that they induce.

While thoughts of tiny and larger floating spheres continued to percolate, another notion was inspired by other photographers’ recent images. I wanted to explore the combination of oil and water, and the way the oil stays on the surface, creating bubble-like circular shapes. I took the minimalist approach for this initial plunge into a slice of food photography.

In the Lens section is the seven images that show a range of results. I choose these two ingredients for their yin/yang relationship. Each is a commonplace source for culinary cooking. Together they are seen entirely differently, especially up close.

Series One is the starting point. Bubbles provide a subject that has a seemingly never-ending potential–a potential that has me contemplating multiple photo shoots.

Oil and water are known for their aversion to each other, yet they blend into a team in the culinary world. Each of the seven images shows a miniature universe of the everyday and its brush with the mysteries of the unseen.

Tip of the Week: Here are some suggestions for photo shoots whose subjects are food. Think about the general photographic techniques that you use regularly, then add some extras. Food photography is a popular genre that has special elements to ponder. It calls for extra sensitivity to design and subject within the lens’ frame. But the subject can easily turn from freshly ripe to discolored by lights and time. Food photography calls for a tripod as well as the following: if possible, use natural lighting; still life is only as inviting as the single or numerous foods selected for the scene; consider temperature of the room and its effects; consider the intersection of form and function in your decision to make a still life; find an original approach to show the aesthetic qualities of the subject; be a purist; or, process the images in various apps to add appeal. Below are two examples of my images of garlic cloves. The first I used a black background and direct lighting. Then I processed it in PhotoStudio.

Garlic Bulbs, Nikon DSLR, 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

Garlic Bulbs, Nikon DSLR, 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

Garlic Bulbs, Nikon DSLR, 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

Garlic Bulbs, Nikon DSLR, 2012; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

View other entries for this week’s challenge:

Note: As always I welcome any comment about this post or any part of my blog.

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.

Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Phoneography Challenges:

1st Monday: Nature

2nd Monday: Macro

3rd Monday: Black and White

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel). (Animals and Objects are themes.)

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week (31 March 2014 will be the first challenge for this new theme).

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

107 Responses to Phoneography Challenge, Your Phone as Your Lens: Food Photography (Bubbles, Series One: Oil and Water)

  1. Aquileana says:

    Such remarkable both post and blog… Great job… Very creative.

    Best wishes, Aquileana 😛

  2. So nice to see someone with passion and talent writing about both! I like oil and water two, though besides the shades in the background, I don’t see a big difference between this and 5. With close to 100 responses, how can you possibly manage to respond to all of this? I suggest perhaps sticking to WordPress, as I imagine this is time consuming enough :). Though google+ is a great way to connect to a wide range of people and doesn’t have that saturated feel of other social mediums. P.S. Thanks for liking my author blog and my book review today at

    • I’m happy to have your visit, and appreciate your thoughtful comment. I’m truly touched by them. Thanks for your advice. Yes, I do believe that WordPress is where I’ll stay for a long time.

  3. Trifocal says:

    On titles I would go for ‘using Filmless, Non-Traditional Digital Devices’. It is short and it leaves open not-yet-arrived new kinds of devices. In specific competition announcements etc. it could be explained that ‘traditional’ means DSLR etc. cameras.
    On the pictures I liked 4. Like you I thought of planets, but saw it as a b/w picture from a 1950s sf magazine, or possibly a shot from an early Star Trek episode. As Mr Spock might have said:
    ‘They are planets Jim, but not as we know them’ 🙂

  4. wisejourney says:

    All rarther beautiful

  5. Love it! The oil and water appears to be dancing. Beautiful . Have a great weekend.

  6. Su Leslie says:

    Stunning images Sally. As usual with this challenge, I sat down to write one thing and the pictures and ideas carried me somewhere unexpected. And in this case, a bit of both nostalgia and self-awareness.

  7. Madhu says:

    Very artistic Sally! I love them all, but if pushed, I would pick no.1 for the shadows, and 3 for the textures. Love what you have done with the garlic bulbs as well. Great job as always 🙂

  8. joshi daniel says:

    they are stunning 🙂

  9. Ajaytao2010 says:

    In lieu of our new friendship and your outstanding contributions to photography

    I Nominate you for A Christmas Bouquet – Awards – Ajaytao – 48 Nominations
    please choose any 5 awards out of the 48
    accept it and oblige

    there are no linkbacks for this award

  10. maryslow says:

    Love these… all of them, for different reasons… but love them all!

  11. Geoff says:

    Hey Sally Long time to see 🙂
    I love these oil & water shots and though I’ve long been fascinated by them I have never tried them myself … about time I think 🙂

  12. aloha Sally. once again a lot of thought and thinking have gone into your post and challenge. and i have thoughts and thinking to go on to as well in reply.

    first my likes:

    #2 and #5 appear to me to be very similar if not the same. it’s hard to notice a difference at least for me. i like them. because the employ a yin and yang not only in water and oil. but in circle and square. or at least that is the sense i find in the image. there are other things going on including light and color. the strong elements tho for me remain the compare and contrast between circle and square which you achieve by format on one hand and image on the other.

    #3 i like a lot because of the play with words and letters. that added element is very appealing to me. and the color is full of taste for me as well. this ultimately may be my favorite.

    #7 intrigues me. it has elements of bridge. and arch way. through composition and selection you’ve elevated it beyond food (imo). and left the viewer (me in this case) a wide area to think about and explore long after i can actually see the photo. this one may linger on my mind.

    as to the names for the challenge:

    of those presented here i like #4 and would vote for it. i think “Filmless” is unnecessary when you include the term “Digital Device”. maybe i’m incorrect in my thinking. it seems to me that a digital device does not use film or at least implies that it does not use film. so a film-using device is automatically excluded when you use the term “digital” or “digital device”.

    i am also not sure the term “Mobile” is needed either when “Non-Traditional” device is used. it seems to me that currently a phone or other easily mobile device is still non-traditional. maybe in another generation or two (human generations as opposed to device generations) a phone camera may be considered traditional. currently however i dont think it is.

    i came up with several alternative titles. however i think i prefer a modification of the current #4.

    4. Photography Challenge using Filmless, Non-Traditional Digital Devices

    7. Photography Challenge using Non-Traditional Digital Devices

    8. Non-Traditional Digital Device Photography Challenge

    or, perhaps even “Device is not necessary:
    8. Non-Traditional Digital Photography Challenge

    imo, the shorter a title can be the better it is for a title. i say this noticing how long some of my recent post titles have become. maybe of course this is not current thinking or even your thinking. in which case of course disregard anything i have said that does not fit with your conception of the challenge and title. it’s just fun for me to think about these things. and that is all i’m doing, offering up here my thoughts.

    last thoughts that have occurred to me over the past week include theme possibilities for the 4th monday of a month. two that i like would be:

    1. Light (as subject matter, an always and universally valid subject—imo) we of course always use light in a photograph. however light as focused subject can be extremely rewarding (again imo). and is currently being done in many cases altho also under other headings/subjects/themes.

    2. Season or Current Season (i like “Current Season”, knowing that the two hemispheres of our planet always sit in opposite seasons at all times of the year. this would allow and include both hemispheres to post their own season. winter/summer and autumn/spring which might be a very cool comparison to browse).

    whew. okay. fun on. now. again. happy phonagraphy monday on you. and thank you as well. aloha. rick

  13. livvy30 says:

    I’m back Sally! Your shots are fabulous. I can’t pick a favorite!

  14. thirdeyemom says:

    Wow Sally!! These are amazing photos! How did you take them and get the color? I’m guessing you put paper under a glass bowl filled with water? Gorgeous!

  15. Oh and I vote for # 2 !!! All good suggestions, mind you!

  16. Great theme. We all love bubbles.

  17. Sally these shots are truly amazing! So creative! They are all stunning but 1 & 4 are my fave, sadly I can’t explain, they just do!
    Re the title, you seem to want to express ‘photography challenge using anything but a camera’ For me it should simply say Mobile Photography Challenge, in the UK at least this would explain it perfectly, since our phones are ‘mobiles’. I really don’t think the whole explanation needs to come all in the title. That is clearly defined on your site, which anyone needs to read in order to enter.
    Personally I would not use a long title to name anything on my site, I don’t mind putting it in the slug, but I like my titles short & sweet.
    See you soon with my entry 🙂

    • Amanda, I’ve learned that the UK calls cellphones mobiles. The issue is that people are now exploring other devices (iPods, iPads and other tablets, and scanners), which could all qualify. Scanners are not mobile. That’s why I am leaning toward photography in the title. After all it is about the photograph. I totally agree with the need to keep the title as brief as possible without loosing the meaning of the challenge. Let me know what you mean by the “slug.” Thanks so much for your comment.

      • Hi Sally, the WordPress slug, is basically the URL of your post. When creating a post you can keep the title short and snappy, but use the slug to put in the details for search engine discovery. As an example on last weeks photo challenge, I named the post title Monotone Sculptures. However the slug (URL) said the full thing e.g. iphoneography challenge and so on.
        This blog post explains it well

        Hope that helps 🙂

      • Amanda, I absolutely agree with the need for brevity. But I also want to make sure that the title defines with clarity the purpose of the challenge. Is a slug then much like a tag? Thanks for the link.

      • Similar I suppose Sally, as it’s meant for computer language, sorted by search engines etc. 🙂

      • Yes, I’m sure that would be helpful. My computer literacy is not as formidable as yours. I’d like to be able to increase my knowledge to build the photo community. It’s also labor intensive to add other social media. What is your opinion of Instagram? Thanks so much for your advice.

  18. Indira says:

    Very interesting shots Sally. Very original and attractive. Loved all.

  19. Amar Naik says:

    i like the title #4.
    i think we can open the challenge to non WordPress bloggers but the challenge will be commenting on them since some of them ask for lot of details. besides backlinks can be easily done for wordpress blogs. the shots look so professional and reflect your expertise. i tried but could not match the quality that you have here.

    • Amar, your comment makes my heart sing. Tell me more about your ideas for those not on WP. What are back links, and how does that work? It would be great to build a larger community. That’s part of the challenge of the challenge. Thanks so much.

  20. My favorites are #’s 1, 3, and 5 but I like all of them for their resemblance to abstract expressionism. They are interesting, quirky, and joyous.

  21. FireBonnet says:

    What awesome shots! Very cool. I like one the best, but am impressed with all. The composition on the last one is just beautiful. As for a title, I like 1 and 3.

  22. marialla says:

    How innovative!!!!

  23. Love the oil and water, #1. the best. The design quality is Mondrian like.
    In terms of renaming what we do, either one containing Mobileography works for me. It’s a single identifiable word. After all the Brits call cell phones mobiles.
    Thanks for the hints of what to do when your sentenced to long times at home. It couldn’t come at a better time for me, I’m having a hip replaced this week so I will be shut in for a few weeks. I know my phone will become my companion. Better to take pictures then play endless games of solitaire 😉
    Happy Monday

  24. What creative choices today Sally, I love the oil and water series! For challenge titles I am having a hard time deciding between #1 and #6. I like the length of #1 but #6 is a little more specific… I’ll wait to see the final tally. 🙂

  25. Hey Sally! I love how you are thinking about the challenge and seeking to evolve it. I’ve been recently thinking about this as well… Especially because I know many bloggers who don’t have cell phone cameras. I vote for #4 for titles :). My husband bought be an amazing mirrorless camera for my birthday this past year. It’s somewhere between point and shoot and slr but functions more like an slr. Don’t know if it will be accepted, but it has been a great tool for me recently so I thought I’d ask. I wish I had the time to sit down and really think about my images and write as you do. I miss that! Might have to make it a point to take a couple of hours a week to do so. Something for me for a change from photography as work lol. Your images are outstanding! I love the play with oil and water and what comes of the texture when presented with color, text etc. truly beautiful! I am still a fan of Instagram and Facebook (I feel you should at least create a page for your followers… It’s another great tool to connect with photo lovers around the world). But, those are merely suggestions. Your blog is phenomenal and always a joy to read. Thank you for creating these challenges 🙂

    • My thinking is to focus on non-SLR/DSLR cameras. I want us to be the photo community that is moving with the new and still steeped in the process of the art. Please send me an e-mail about your experiences on Instagram. Also, what do you mean by:”I feel you should at least create a page for your followers…” I’m mostly concerned about managing this challenge and the preciousness of time. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

  26. Amy says:

    The water and oil photos are so cool, Sally! Love the garlic bulbs.

  27. rabirius says:

    It is hard to pick one, because they are all great.
    If I had to choose I would probably choose the b&w image in the middle, because it sticks out due to its b&w-ness.

  28. Steve says:

    Your shots are simply amazing. Very sciencey looking.

  29. Sally! The oil and water theme is so very clever and the outcome is whimsical and really cool ^___^

    Looking at your suggested titles, I wonder when is that tipping point when mobile photography could be considered mainstream rather than alternative. After all, everyone I know already takes photos with a mobile phone. 😉

  30. Wonderful photos.
    I think the 4th title is best. Shorter and more to the point. I also like the challenge for the 5th Monday using different apps for processing. There are so many new apps available for different post processing and a lot of fun too.

  31. I still like the word you use today better, phoneography. Mobile in one or the other use is less specific. I mean all cameras are mobile, aren’t they? 🙂

    • From my understanding mobile is linked to the current technology of Smartphones and other “new” digital technology that is portable. Scanners and yet-to-be invented devices that are immobile would not be included in phoneography. While it’s a conundrum, there is a way to re-invent the title to express alternative lenses to use in photography that are not DSLR and filmless. Thanks.

  32. Angeline M says:

    I really like these shots. I think I like the first one the best with the color and shadow. The last one also appeals to me because of its monochrome simplicity (it reminds me of a tiara).
    I agree with Lignum Draco for the new title of your blog, short is best in my book, so just Mobile Photography would work for me.
    I chose architecture for my entry
    As always, thanks for being our fearless leader.

  33. emeraldwake says:

    Great blog nice to be here. Regards,EM

  34. I think the title change makes sense Sally. I really like Mobileography but that’s going to exclude some devices such as scanners that may not be mobile. I would say the “Photography Challenge, Using Non-SLR Digital, Filmless Devices as Your Lens” resonates the best with me but I would change “non-SLR’ to “non-DSLR”. Since you’re already specifying that it is a filmless device.

  35. For the bubble, they are simply amazing. Never ever occur in my mind to produce such beautiful thing from such a very simple and common object. Bravo.

    For the title, I love #1, but you worry with DSLR right? I propose:
    Mobileography Challenge using Non-SLR/DSLR Digital, Filmless Devices.

  36. Fantastic job with these. I love them all but my favorite is the first and last images.

  37. denasgoodlife says:

    These are so interesting Sally. Really nice images.

  38. EvaUhu says:

    To choose or not to choose… If I really have to, I’ll go for #1. It reminds me of planets, the solar system… And I like the lightning in that one best 🙂

  39. ~meredith says:

    Great article and ideas. I love the oil and water series. They look like fractals. Great experiment.

  40. basiga says:

    Love your series! Brilliant subject water and oil! They are all fabulous!
    Re: Title, I agree they are all cumbersome, but I select 1 or 3.
    Looking forward to the new challenge. By the way, forgive the typo which is now corrected. I also seem to have another post. I schedule posts in advance and missed that I had one in cue. So, it looks like with your new challenge, I may have two photos. Have a happy shooting week!

  41. Sally-your creativity continues to inspire! What wonderful images that convey to me a kind of joy-there is something magical about bubbles-maybe even more so, considering their humble origins-well done! As far as the list, #1 works for me.

  42. Sally — Your best work yet. Really! I love them all. Frame #1 gets a tad higher mark, but they all are equally well composed and shot. Brava!

  43. This week I refuse to choose, wild and crazy thing that I am (not.) 🙂 I love bubble and these are wonderful shots. How do you get so close with your phone and still stay in focus? As for titles, they are all, by necessity, a bit cumbersome so I tend towards #1, but based on your comment above, I’d go with #3.

    A sunny Phoneography Monday to all of you,


    • Janet, thanks for your comments. I use a lot of patience during the photo shoot. I think that you choice is apt: number 3 does summarize it better. I wish that there was a way to make it shorter, but the title has to be specific. Thanks.

  44. Lignum Draco says:

    I like the 1st B&W image best.
    I suggest keeping your challenge title short. Maybe simply, Mobile Device Photography Challenge.

  45. Dawn says:

    4. Photography Challenge using Filmless, Non-Traditional Digital Devices

    You mentioned in the body of this post the use of scanners. They can be a blast to play with in terms of creating images. They are not mobile, so if they are part of the party I would stick with Photography as the set point – and allow the challenge to stem from that. Hopefully “non-traditional digital devices” opens the field to everything else.

    Are 4 and 6 the same shot? I like the BW treatment better, more contrast. These are fun shots.

    • Images four and six are slightly different. I also liked the conversion, made me think of planets and the solar system. Yes, it is a photography challenge, and using it in the title keeps it grounded. I also do not want a really long title, which makes it even harder. Thanks so much for your selection and explanation.

  46. I like: 1. Mobileography Challenge, using Digital, Filmless Devices as Your Lens

  47. These are all so neat and modern, I like all of them. I love the onion bulbs too.

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