Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Photo Challenge: Black and White (Longwood Gardens)

15 September 2014


Three versions of “Morning Light,” Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, August 2014

1. Original in Hipstamatic

1. Morning Light, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

1. Morning Light, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Hipstamatic and PhotoStudio #1

2. Morning Light, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Morning Light, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

3. Hipstamatic and PhotoStudio #2

3. Morning Light, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

3. Morning Light, Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

Let me know which you prefer and why.


Black-and-white photography has an uncanny power to recreate reality. While a fully technicolor image may seem the better choice to most, for me monochrome strips away distractions, focuses on details and improves my own ability to “see.”

While strolling through the newly-created meadow at Longwood Gardens, I was led to a bridge that sandwiched me between a wooded haven. The morning golden hour was spritely accentuating the foliage on the trees. I stopped, stared and panned through each side.

While the soft greens of the trees and sparkling light were striking in color, the conversion to monochrome gave me so much more to contemplate. Contrasts and tones, light and shadows exaggerated what could be lost by a scene that provided a different kind of attention to elements.

The light pushed reflections, forcing the conscious to recognize what could easily have been missed. When you stroll through such diverse natural settings that are cultivated and maintained by human hand and nature, it’s hard to absorb the immensity of beauty and grandeur. Some of it being so tiny that its kept hidden from voyeurs. Other visual aspects overwhelm the senses.

And so whatever and whenever I can appreciate those kinds of moments, I feel a calm and quiet that nourishes. Stilling a certain slice of nature and later revisiting that frozen scene can bring back initial responses. It also can act as an instigator to see the same composition with greater examination.

In the Lens section are examples of my interpretation  of the original taken in Hipstamatic, and then I  processed two in PhotoStudio. Each app made certain parts of the whole more or less prevalent. Other parts allowed details to fade into obscurity. The process became a dance of the visual.

I like to play with images that are more white than black or black than white. To frame negative and positive spaces can create an energetic push-and-pull within the  monochromatic results–results that can give a new spin on the character of the subject.

That reversal of our visual field (changing the black tones to white or the white ones to black) redefines patterns and shadows, and provides a chance to view in a circular fashion rather than linear. These experiments only lead to another and another, forcing the synapses to flourish in an invented world that is really real.

Tip of the Week: Clearly, one of the best sites to peruse photography and the work of world-recognized photographers’ work is the National Geographic website. It is stacked with so many layers that one could drift there for years. Their staff of photographers produce some of the most magnificent depictions of nature and human nature. Click here to view some of their “Photo of the Day” section that is devoted to Black and White. Whether taken with a Smartphone or DSLR or SLR, these images inspire.

“Cricket Game, Bangladesh” (2013)  by Mohammad Rakibul Hasan

“Cricket Game, Bangladesh” (2013)
by Mohammad Rakibul Hasan

View other entries for today’s challenge: Black and White


If you’d like to join the Photo Challenge, please click here for details. If you have any questions, 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).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

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

66 Responses to Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Photo Challenge: Black and White (Longwood Gardens)

  1. Paul Cahill says:

    Number 1. I love sharp black and white.

  2. Lignum Draco says:

    I prefer the first photo. My eye feels more directed.

  3. Wonderful effects. My favorite is the Hipstamatic alone. More deep and mysterious.

  4. the light is wonderful!! and the processing!!

  5. Tina Schell says:

    Used to live nearby there and absolutely one of my favorite places anywhere. I do miss it, especially at the holidays. I’m all for the first photo, which shows us more of the natural glory.

  6. I agree with you, Sally that black and white (or monochromatic rendering) takes away distractions and focuses more on the emotional content in a photograph. As to which photo to pick from this post, I really don’t know. They work beautifully together, so maybe put them together as a triptych?

  7. wildsherkin says:

    I like the original best because of that lovely soft lighting. Kicking myself that I didn’t post my photo this evening under this challenge instead!

  8. Maria F. says:

    I like them all when viewed as a triptych.

  9. Aquileana says:

    I love the original shot and its respective versions, very nice! .
    Best wishes, Aquileana 😛

  10. prior says:

    glad I was able to stop by here – I loved your post and I agree about how b & w can help us see more within an image. oh and I like the first edited image – the darker center and bit of outlining still left in the outer area pulls you right in. in contrast – the second one was nice, but the fainter perimeter was not as rich to me – 🙂 have a nice week.

  11. livvy30 says:

    My favourite theme rolls round again! I really like the top photo.

  12. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like your first version the most. It has a Maxfield Parrish Noir feel to it.

  13. restlessjo says:

    Daren’t venture into National Geographic. I might never find my way out again 🙂 And I’m having enough trouble catching up as it is, Sally. I like your first one, though it’s a bit dark. The others make me think of snow and I really don’t want to go down that route yet. 🙂

  14. I’ve always wanted to go to Longwood Gardens. I love the light in the first image Sally.

  15. Amy says:

    Hi Sally, Mine for this week;
    Beautiful Longwood Gardens image. Love the process you did. Have a great week!

  16. Gallivanta says:

    So pleased you had this special time at Longwood Gardens.

  17. I like the first one best to go with the description of being “in” a wooded haven and the 2nd 2 feels like you are looking into a wooded haven from a sunny open area..almost in reverse. Interesting focal changes.

  18. Su Leslie says:

    Hi Sally; I usually struggle to choose one of your photos over the others, but this week I’m in love with no. 3. It has such an ethereal quality. Here’s my contribution:

  19. Angeline M says:

    Good evening, Sally. I really like your first photo best because of the darker hues. I’m beginning to like nature in black and white, something I don’t think I would have learned without your challenges. And thanks for that link to Nat Geo. Have a good week. I’ll be back in a couple.

    • Angeline, I absolutely agree. It took me so long to become a devotee. When you look at the work of one of the masters of black and white, Ansel Adams, it becomes apparent that it can be a powerful way to “see” Mother Nature. You are in a great location to experiment. When I went to Yosemite National Park this Spring, I was literally in the figurative “heaven” on earth. Thanks so much.

  20. Beautiful choices, Sally. You’ve illustrated my favorite points about black and white – the ability to clarify an image into the most important aspects. #1 is my initial favorite but looking at the next ones a second time I like the chance to appreciate different portions of the image.

  21. Sweet as a Picture says:

    As usual, I like all three versions, since they offer something different. I like the way you described them: “dance of the visual”. 🙂

  22. Suzanne says:

    This week I’m in doubt as to which is my favourite of your photos here. It is definitely the second one. I love that high key look – the suggestion of things – Personally I think the effect is a bit too strong in the last image. Here’s my contribution to the challenge

  23. I love the orginal. Very mysterious looking. 😀

  24. Amy says:

    The enlarged version looked great. I like the editing version, but the original is fabulous. I took a few photos with my iPhone, should have my entry up later. Thank you for hosting the phoneography, Sally.

  25. Sally I expect to see Puck or Robin Hood among the leaves of these images. I like your story of how you danced with the images. I like the way 1 and 2 flip in my mind as I look at them. that single floating branch on the right is magical.
    Happy Monday

  26. I especially like the first one with the light just streaming through the trees. So pleasant! 🙂

  27. owfotografik says:

    Beautiful ! Thank you for sharing.

  28. Sally, I just got back from a walk in “my” park, a mix of prairie and forest, that looked much like the first photo today as I almost made it back to the van before the rain came. I like the way your editing takes the photo from something dark (and a bit ominous, if one wants to look at it that way), to something almost sunny and ethereal. I think today I’ll opt for the second because, although I love the first one, I enjoyed the way the details stood out differently in the second.

    Have a week filled with wonderful photos (and I know you will.) Can’t wait to see Longwood Gardens with you one spring day!


  29. Oh number one image with the light just barely streaming in….aaaah♥

  30. pattimoed says:

    Longwood Gardens–one of your favorite places, I’d guess! My favorite is the first shot because I like the strong contrast between light and shadows. It better evokes the mood and feel of the place. And thanks too for the tip on National Geographic. I’ll bookmark it! Happy Monday–Patti

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