Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge: Nature (Spring’s Renewal of the Landscape)

07 April 2014


1. Crocus and Hellebores, iPhone 4s, March 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

1. Crocus and Hellebores, iPhone 4s, March 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

2. Hellebores, iPhone 4s, April 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

2. Hellebores, iPhone 4s, April 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014


3. Hellebores, iPhone 4s, April 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

3. Hellebores, iPhone 4s, April 2014; © Sally W. Donatello and Lens and Pens by Sally, 2014

Let me know which you prefer and why.


A large portion of my photographic palette is my muse, Mother Nature. I begin my day with a cup of tea in hand and an eye to my birding station. No matter the season spontaneous activities arise from the menagerie of lively creatures that spend much of the day there.

Yesterday I spied a pair of spritely red-bellied woodpeckers. While the male is a usual suspect, the female (to my knowledge) has never appeared. By nature they are solitary. Still, it’s spring and that brings the expected and unexpected. This sighting was enough to bring ebullience to the entire day’s overcast and shadowy clouds.

Not a day disappears that I do not ponder the state of Mother Earth. My anxiety about climate and environmental issues follows me, causing an edginess that will not surrender. Recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the American Association for the Advancement of Science makes this unease even more pronounced. To put these Reports in perspective, you can read two articles from The New York Times‘ “Opinion Pages” here and here, which appeared last week.

To buoy my spirits I’ll walk through parkland or wildlife preserves. But I do not have to stray from my personal sanctuary to soothe my concerns. One step into nature heals me at least temporarily.

Yesterday on a walk through my cultivated and wild habitats, I stopped to admire those dependable signs of late winter and early spring: daffodils. My circular grouping and naturalized areas are still in their early stages. These dignified buds are a worthy symbol to usher in spring. When the yellow glow bursts forth, it’s as though winter’s story dissolves, and spring’s glory finally has staked its claim.

In truth daffodils are not at the top of my list. The earlier crocus and hellebores, which awaken my woodland areas with colorful splendor, lure me over and over to gaze at their mastery.

I’m also enamored with the quiet beauty of a bud. Budding trees and spring flowers seem to be spreading with an overwhelming vengeance against the finale of winter.

Typically, at springtime we ponder renewal and re-definition. I also reflect upon nature as one of the epicenters of the planet’s health.

And as each blossom or leaf of this or that surfaces, we realize that no two are ever the same. Individuality is rampant in the natural world. That characteristic is also embedded in the human condition. But there is a place where we come together in  the collective unconscious—a place where the entire world must find consensus to work for the well-being of Mother Earth.

In the Lens section is another one of my salutes to spring’s re-appearance. This week’s photo shoot was one frustration after another. Each session did not produce what I wanted: a gem to represent the rekindle of spring.

I focused on blades and shoots of early spring flowers and herbs. But none gave me those architectural lines that I sought. I cut some daffodils, but the results had me turn elsewhere.

I do not EXPECT from a photo session; I act and do. I let it flow, stay with the moment. To ply some of the morning light was a goal, but the days remained grey and darkened with phases of rain. Images became illusive.

Finally, I found a lone crocus and snipped a few blossoming hellebores. I slipped them into a glass vase, and found an angle that gave the crocus a sculptural freeform. Next to the crocus is a hellebores waiting and watching.

One of the hellebores was slightly darker and exuding more vibrancy. They remain steadfastly one of my most treasured woodland early bloomers.

After peeling away the week’s disappointment, I am able to show two cheery species that forecast spring’s rejuvenation of the landscape. They provide a lesson in the resiliency of Mother Nature–a resiliency that is real yet fragile nonetheless.

Each of us can cultivate a small portion of our world, and return more and more of our cities and towns to natural habitats. I continue to be nonplussed that people have become more and more removed from Mother Nature, who is a source of considerable comfort and spiritual awakening for me. During the renewal of the  landscape I am especially hopeful–hopeful for the continuation of a four-season landscape that is appreciated by all.

Tip of the Week:

“Art Wolfe’s photographs are a superb evocation of some of the most breathtaking spectacles in the world.” ~~ Sir David Attenborough

Nature photographers are known to be conservationists and environmentalists who work tirelessly to protect vanishing wildlife. American landscape photographer Art Wolfe (b. 1951) is the epitome of this kind of advocacy. For over three decades he has been interpreting and recording landscapes across the world. Wolfe combines art and journalism to educate and motivate others to get involved with issues that matter most to him. Here is a quote by Wolfe that summarizes his photographic philosophy: “When we confront a landscape, we are surrounded by a chaos of visual elements. The scene challenges us to extract a unique composition that encapsulates the character and emotional impact we sense at that moment. We need to get past the overt subject, the postcard view, to pick out the unobvious yet significant aspects.” To read more about Wolfe, click here.

"Snowy Owls," by Art Wolfe

“Snowy Owls,” by Art Wolfe

View other entries for this week’s Photo 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 Photo Challenge, please contact me.


Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Photo 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.




This entry was posted in Abstraction, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge: Nature (Spring’s Renewal of the Landscape)

  1. Janice Heck says:

    All three photos are superb, but I like #2 the best. You have captured the essence of the flower, color and shape, in just part of the flower. Exquisite.

  2. Best of Spring. Stunning images that delights the eyes and heart.

  3. Luanne says:

    Like saying which puppy is cutest. I love them all!

  4. Tina Schell says:

    Love Art Wolfe and especially like the way you have woven him into your perspective. Heard him speak once and it was really inspirational – we can learn so much from the masters. You have followed his advice about extracting visual elements beautifully here Sally!

  5. Blessings of Spring brilliantly blooming, inspiring us all to enjoy what life has to offer. Have a great weekend.

  6. lulu says:

    Certainly we should be concerned about Mother Earth and be more sensitive to her needs. As bad as the news sometimes appears about what is happening to her, I am always buoyed when I fly and look down and see so much of our earth that remains undeveloped, untouched and unlikely to change. At least that is what I hope.
    Always your photos amaze.

  7. Suzanne says:

    Sorry – I forgot to say I like the first photo of yours best. The colours are magical and the quote from Art Wolfe is exceptional. I’ve copied it into my visual journal. Thanks for your interesting thoughts and insights into photography.

  8. Miss Lou says:

    I thought they were all beautiful captures, however they second one appealed to me most of all.
    It was almost like the bloom had opened up and the centre pieces were reaching for the sky.


  9. Beautiful Sally. I love the second one. The composition is excellent and I love that it’s a little off centre.

  10. That’s a good quotation from Art Wolfe: “We need to get past the overt subject, the postcard view, to pick out the unobvious yet significant aspects.” Searching out the unobvious isn’t always easy but it’s a worthy quest.

  11. Amy says:

    Love your flower photos! Gorgeous rich colors. Thank you for the links! Here is my entry: Hope you like it.

  12. #2 shows the detailed layers of the flower’s heart, like that. Also the subtle variation in colours in #1 😉

  13. It can be depressing to think about the prospects of the environment. Hopefully, there will be a change of heart, but I do see a worrying trend away from concerns over the “big” picture to a more selfish self-centred view of the universe. In the meantime, we will continue documenting nature’s awesome diversity and beauty. Thanks for your inspiration, Sally.

  14. elisa ruland says:

    The arrival of spring is a convincing excuse to spend as much time outside as possible. It’s nice to immerse myself in nature on your blog as well, Sally. Beautiful post.

  15. cindy knoke says:

    Stupendous. I like them all. I am terrible at picking. Those owlets are to die for~

  16. thirdeyemom says:

    Beautiful as always! I too love Mother Nature and am very concerned about climate change. It bothers me immensely.

  17. I like all your flowers, great macros too.

  18. Sally, all are lovely, so im sitting on the fence! The colours are beautiful, so evocative of spring. Love the macro. Here is my entry.

  19. I love the first one because of the light that is coming through the petals.

  20. Gallivanta says:

    I love the crocus. The crocus is always the first signal of spring, for me.

  21. Sally, your Hellebores are wonderful! I bought a tiny plant two years ago that should bloom this same deep color but I’m still waiting for a flower. Like Dawn, we have plenty of the green ones and they are quite happy so I’m holding out hope our new one just needs to get a little bigger. Thanks for spreading the word about Art Wolfe, he is a favorite in our house too. 🙂

  22. Su Leslie says:

    Beautiful photos as always Sally; I won’t try to choose a favourite. Although I’m definitely a city girl – most at home in the human landscape – I share your concerns for our environment and despair at the lack of political will for change.

  23. Archita says:

    Wonderful pictures, Sally. Here’s my post for the challenge:

  24. Beautiful! I think I prefer the purple and softness of the first one.

  25. So happy to see color on your page once more. The first photo is so intimate and provocative I want to look away our of embarrassment for interrupting a private moment. All that is to say it is full of passion a pas double perhaps.
    Yea spring!

  26. They are all great photos but I would have to say I like the middle one better. 😀

  27. Angeline M says:

    My favorite topic this week! I love nature and the bazillion opportunities for photography within it. I really like your last photo the best with the head on view of the center and also the petals on the left with their white stippled edges. Also thanks yet again for leading me to wonderful photographers and artists in your weekly tips.
    Happy phoneography Monday.

  28. marialla says:


  29. Hi Sally, this is my first time joining this challenge and I hope you like my entries.
    By the way, your images are all beautiful but my favorite is the number 2. Have a good day! Mary Jane

  30. Dina says:

    Thank you so much for this informative post, Sally. I have to get aquatinted with Art Wolfe’s work now! I find it hard to decide between number one and two, I stay in the middle. 🙂
    Have a great new week.
    Best regards, Dina

  31. So wonderful to see the early signs that Spring is really here—not just a calendar date. Thanks!

  32. Trifocal says:

    I like your second one best. The focus on the stamens brings them out clearly while the colour variations and markings on the petals actually gain imo from being very slightly blurred. Thank you for posting this very nice shot!

  33. Sally, I’m back to “I like them all”, but I lean very slightly towards the first for the shyness and shadows with the beautiful purple. When we had bird feeders, my favorite birds were the woodpeckers. One day a hawk took up temporary residence on a wire just short distance away from what s/he no doubt saw as the hawk’s McDonald’s. Needless to say, we didn’t see any birds for those two or three days. But I was able to glory in the hawk’s beauty and I do love hawks.

    May you enjoy a beautiful spring week.


    • Janet, let hope those warm days are about to appear with the arrival of house wrens and hummingbirds. Thanks so much.

      • The redwing blackbirds are back as Bill and I saw on our bike ride last night. The Chicago area has lots of wonderful parks which is truly a blessing. I have to remember when I get out to Philly sometime to go Longwood Gardens (is that the right name?). I’ll be out the first week in May. Do you think it would be worth a visit then?

      • Absolutely, it’s prime time in May. Do go during the week to avoid the crowds. Longwood Gardens is worth the visit any season, but spring is gorgeous.

  34. Dawn says:

    I positively drool over the work of Art Wolfe. He’s from my part of the world – just wish I had the funds to take one of his three day workshops. It would be transporting.

    Love your purple hellebores – the one’s in our yard are green. I think I prefer number 2 – the focus on the center of the flower is pleasing to me. Happy Spring.

    • Dawn, wouldn’t it be a once-in-a lifetime experience to watch him work and learn from him. I’m as interested in his work as his advocacy. He’s doing great work. See you soon. Thanks so much.

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