Phoneography Challenge, the Phone as Your Lens: Nature (and Winter’s Colors)

03 March 2014


Part One: The Actual

1. Afternoon Sky and Sun,, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

1. Afternoon Sky and Sun,, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

3.  Afternoon sky and Sun, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

2. Afternoon Sky and Sun, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

Part Two: The Possible

3. Afternoon Sky and sun, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

3. Afternoon Sky and Sun, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

4. Afternoon Sky and Sun, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

4. Afternoon Sky and Sun, iPhone 4s, February 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

Let me know which you prefer and why.


This challenge was created to bring together a photo community who use digital devices that are not considered cameras per se. What differentiates this online event from other photography challenges is the notion that a traditional camera is no longer the central theme of photography, and is not used to create work for this weekly challenge.

While “we” still shoot with SLR and DSLR cameras, “we” are turning with a vengeance to other technology to still the universe. This trend is embedded in the discussion about the mechanics of the camera versus a photographer’s personal lens or way of seeing. I strongly believe that the key to a successful photograph emanates from the vision of the individual. Equipment is secondary.

Digital devices produce frozen moments that bring as much attention as a traditional camera’s images. These nontraditional sources are filling today’s photographic toolkit–a toolkit overflowing with choices.

During February the participation in Phoneography Challenge began to increase. As we move forward with the selection of a newly-minted title, I am hopeful that this online photography event will continue its blossoming with new and regular participants and readers. The reason for renaming the challenge is the expansion and use of  filmless, non-SLR digital devices as a lens.

With a re-definition of the challenge’s purpose we welcome technology that unfolds and produces additional methods and techniques to still the moment. The new title will acknowledge and reflect the blend of iPhoneography and Phoneography plus other devices such as iPods, iPads (and other tablets), scanners and a future of inventions that have yet to be conceived.

Below are the candidates for the newly-annointed title that was gleaned from your suggestions. If you have other ideas, I welcome them.

Currently, there are three finalists. I did not include mobileography or mobile photography, because mobile has mixed reactions from many who live in various parts of the world. Additionally, mobile has tended to mean Smartphones, and this challenge is broader and wider than that technology.

1. Nontraditional Photography Challenge: Non-SLR Digital Devices as Your Lens

2. Photography Challenge, Using Filmless Nontraditional Digital Devices

3. Nontraditional Photography Challenge: Non-SLR Filmless Devices as Your Lens

Please let me know which is your favorite. Or suggest another combination or entirely new one.

The month of March has arrived, and those of us who have had and continue to experience a bitter cold and precipitation-filled winter LONG for Spring. Here is my ode to the weeks that are left of this seemingly prolonged season.

Crystal teardrops from the wintry sky,

saturated by chromatic hearts.

Baffled by invisible leaves,

and hushed by the clever perfumes of Spring’s forecast.

For most of my adulthood I’ve been buoyed by the restorative powers of Mother Nature. She lifts and shores by spirits. She enchants, waxing and waning as I watch.

Today I pondered her colors. How can I ever describe her palette, and show the depth and breath of her quiet and loud hues?

In my small parcel of the universe a four-season existence keeps a syncopated presence, conjuring the abstract, deliberate, profound, and seamless. On a recent excursion the sky began its usual late afternoon metamorphosis, bringing curious elements together.

While the timing is seasonal, daily alterations are unique. On this particular afternoon colors ranged from pale peachy pink to almost invisible grey. It reminded me that winter is not always bare and dismal. It has its color bursts, and gives radiance each day in some small or larger act of continuance. The sun followed with its triumphant gaze, realizing that it was part of Mother Nature’s memorable schemes.

These exquisite silent transformations occurred with a slow cadence that never let me detach. The final overcast sky was in charge of the day’s visible sunlight, and then it disappeared into the dark of night.

That performance had me focused with a time-lapse effect. Each color, not at all dappled, was covering the entire skyline. It transformed into a widespread coloration: a visual skyward landscape that required adoration. The realism was ephemeral and magical.

In the Lens section I tried to show the scene that transpired. Since I was so attentive to the moment, I only took a few images. In Part One the first two photographs recall my mind’s interpretation of the change. The lightly almost bare sky would not let me leave its various stages. I was especially drawn to the lines of the branches that seem to reach toward me, embracing fleeting time, and creating soft lyrical patterns.

In Part Two I was compelled to do something that is not usual for me. Normally, I see nature in her pure form, just as she is. So I rarely use apps to alter her. But something compelled me.

Image one in Part Two was done with PhotoStudio, and reminds me about Japanese aesthetics and watercolor-like elements of the sky. Image two, which also was created in PhotoStudio, is my interpretation of the ozone layer and the hole in the universe that has much to do with climate change. It’s a commentary on what we’ve done to our planet and ourselves. Sermon done.

Winter’s glaze has not retreated. Today another snowstorm pushes through the Mid-Atlantic, and the cold pervades.

But it’s March and the rhythms of Spring are beginning to converge. I watch and wait, and wait and watch. My vigilance will be rewarded.

Tip of the Week: Nature photography offers bountiful opportunities that never require any enthusiasm from me. It’s simply part of my spirit and soul; I seek ways to savor Mother Nature each and every day and night. A nature photographer whose work I often re-visit is Edward Weston (1886-1958). Whether the human body or the hills of California or shells from the sea, his images encompassed a visual architectural landscape that focused on angles, lines and tones. His use of black and white heightened the brilliance of his vision. Even as he captured other subjects, I see nature when I view his portfolio; it moves over the edges of his images. His pictorial photography was simple in composition and steeped in the American experience, especially the Northwest, Southwest and West. Click here to view the 1948 documentary about this American photographer and his work. Also please visit this website (click here), which refers to him as one of the “most influential photographers of the twentieth century.”

Here are 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 Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Phoneography Challenge, the Phone as Your Lens: Nature (and Winter’s Colors)

  1. Rondje says:

    great process, last one is pure art, i think, love it!
    greetings, Ron.

  2. Explicit post,the pictures are amazing.Warm regards.jalal

  3. marialla says:

    Interesting stuff!! I like the sepia one of the original the best because it is warm and romantic and the second one of the possible best because it is mysterious and in some ways eerie but not necessarily scary. Well done! Thank you.

  4. Gallivanta says:

    The Japanese aesthetic in number 3 is wonderful but number 4 fills me with horror, as it should, considering it speaks of the ozone hole.

  5. #4 is very cool looking!

  6. Su Leslie says:

    Hi Sally; great images and a thoughtful post as always. I think the images work best as a series; like the sense of transformation. Here’s my take on the theme offered from a place where summer’s baking sun has mellowed into autumn’s glory.

  7. Madhu says:

    “Crystal teardrops from the wintry sky….” That’s beautiful Sally! very evocative.
    Am I boring for preferring option one? 🙂

  8. basiga says:

    Fabulous series! I love the texture and colors.

  9. The fourth intrigues: the sun has become a hole or tunnel with branches guarding it.

  10. Pingback: Phoneography Challenge, the Phone as Your Lens:...

  11. Terrific shots but the last is my favorite. I love the tones and the abstract quality of it.

  12. Nancy Gray says:

    What a lovely quiet poem. It goes with your photos this week. Nancy

  13. #2 option has a nice ring to it. I like that the best. Also picks up people looking for photography, not phoneography. My winter is not really winter at all. You will find it here:

    • Amanda, #2 seems to be the consensus. I have another choice that I’ll include in what I hope will be the last round of selections. Certainly #2 will be on the list. Thanks so much.

  14. denasgoodlife says:

    I love the fourth photo. It’s so beautiful and I love the detail in it. It’s so interesting and I like your interpretation and explanation. I also like #2 for the new name for the challenge.

  15. I love what you accomplished with all of them. Very Cool!

  16. Archita says:

    Wonderful pictures, Sally. I loved the first picture since it makes my cold, gloomy day a lot brighter.

  17. Beautiful photos Sally, I’m enjoying the first one today as it brings a little warmth into such a cold March day. For a new challenge title I like your idea in response to Amanda’s comment. 🙂

  18. Hi there Sally, I love your second photo the best, the sun shouts out so brilliantly! Re your new title: Of the the three I prefer the second. 🙂

    • Yes, I prefer the second too. I think that this addition might actually be clearer: Photography Challenge, Using Nontraditional Digital Devices as Your Lens. That eliminates DSLR and SLR. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

  19. All of them are great, and #4 is wild.

  20. Both the actual pictures are nice, but I really like the two possible pictures. For one they are different. And think the texture in both of them is really interesting. Particularly the last one has so much movement, it almost feels like a picture taking from above of caribous circling around the inner “black hole”. I like it a lot.

    • Otto,I must say that I surprised myself. Since I like nature in her purity, I was hesitate. But it proves that experiments are worth the effort. Please give me your opinion on the proposed new title. I would like to call it a Photography Challenge with a brief explanation. When you peruse the three finalists, do you have any suggestions? I’d appreciate your professional advice. Thanks.

      • I don’t think being professional helps when judging which title is the better. It comes down to feelings and associations. My view is the same as I have written before. For me these finalists are too general and too complex. None of them has the beauty and uniqueness of the word phoneography. Which, needless to say, is still my favourite… 🙂

      • Otto, I understand your points. Phoneography equals Smartphones, and limits participation for those who want to experiment with other devices that have a lens (iPods, iPads, etc.). Thanks.

  21. Angeline M says:

    All of your photos today are wonderful, Sally, I really do like image 3 for the look of a Japanese painting.
    The title for the blog going forward still remains a bit of a puzzle for me; I do not like those with the wording “Nontraditional” in it, that seems to make phoneography not photography when in my mind it still is. I understand what you’re trying to explain in the title, though.
    Here is my entry for today:

  22. I really like #1 because of the lovely muted color, but #2 also because of the warmth the sun suggests-the last image is also quite arresting simply because of the black and white and such strong contrasts.

  23. patriciamoed says:

    Hi Sally. I really love the texture in photo #3. It adds a depth to the photo that I really like. Here’s hoping winter ends soon!

  24. "Occam Blade" says:

    Provocative images all, but I prefer #3 as it suggests a kind of reflection off the surace of crusty, cold snow that’s been around for awhile…like our present winter! However, the texture reminds me of paper I write on with a fountain pen on which your image pays tribute to Japanese wood block printing.

  25. The first one is charming. Like you, I usually like nature unfiltered although I have done my fair share of filtering too 😛 I like #3 too.

  26. wisejourney says:

    I am gripped by the colours in the first one…they really appeal and it s somehow mysterious to me.

  27. Although I do like all of them, that fourth one made me think I was looking into/being drawn into a black hole. Very interesting edit — and commentary! 🙂

  28. The 4th one is truly captivated my eyes. It is fascinating.

    • That interpretation of my shot reminds me of the sun peeking through a swath of intertwined branches. Also I saw it as a symbol of the ozone layer–the hole in the universe that we’ve created. I appreciate your comment. Thanks.

  29. I like the surreal look of the fourth one. It feels like the depiction of possibilities, leading us to who knows where. I like the contrast and the shapes as well as the poem. As for the titles, any of them work for me. I’m not being indecisive; they all seem to be fairly similar. 🙂

    Have a wonderful week of photography and perhaps a bit of spring weather, something we won’t be having in Chicago!


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