Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge: Challenger’s Choice – Abstraction (at the Pond)

26 January 2015


1. Ice at the Pond near the Reservoir; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

1. Bubbles and Ice at the Pond near the Reservoir; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Ice at the Pond near the Reservoir; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Bubbles and Ice at the Pond near the Reservoir; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

Let me know which you prefer and why. Click on the image to enlarge.


Fundamentally, Mother Nature is abstract and concrete, complex and simple, bold and shy, fragile and strong, quiet and loud–she is the quintessential model for us to emulate. By brief or lengthy observation we can learn a continuum of truths, which we can infuse into our everyday lives as well as the life we hope to inhabit.

Much of my adult years have been spent as a voyeur of nature’s omnipresence. There is always a lesson to be tucked inside my heart and soul. There is always a meditative quality that eases the day. Mostly, I feel blessed to have such close access to her attributes.

But much is changing, and much is deeply bothersome. Still, I believe my hope is not an empty place, but a space of immense possibility for the planet’s recovery. The news is not all depressing.

In the Lens section are two images that represent the small in nature: those minute details that we see from afar. They take extra effort to delineate their character and contribution to the whole.

Each photograph is a tiny section of the frozen and defrosting pond that shirts my town’s reservoir. This site is relatively new, and created to assure that our community is prepared for water shortages. The pond is down the hill, covered in cattails and grasses, and almost like a sentinel watching the reservoir above.

The bubbles and ice are a sort of juxtaposition for what we have and might not have. Reports abound about creek beds lowering and rising; areas completely devastated by drought; seesaw weather patterns. The future of water is uncertain.

Still, where I live on in the Mid-Atlantic, USA, we’ve had an abundance of rainy weather, and our water table, for now, is overflowing its boundaries. We’re fortunate, very fortunate.

Tip of the Week: Robert Frank’s The Americans is probably one of the most influential photography books of the 1950s, and maybe even the most informative of the second half of the twentieth century about everyday Americans. Frank (born 1924 and became a naturalized citizen after immigrating) was so enamored with the American way of life that he travelled across the country amassing over 25,000 images. He chose eighty-three photographs to represent his historic journey, which became the essence of The Americans. His visual acuity was drawn to real life, not a sugar-coated version. This raw documentation of Americana eventually changed views of other photographers and the public. If you have not seen Frank’s work, please do. Here is a short podcast from NPR about an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art that celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of that book–a book that became a milestone in art history. From NPR: ‘Americans’: The Book that Changed Photography,” heard on 29 September 2014, runs 08:02 minutes. Click here for the Website. For additional information, turn to the National Gallery of Art’s site to delve deeper into his work. The Museum has a major collection of Franks’ work as a photographer and filmmaker, which includes the years 1937-2005.

Street Car, New Orleans, 1955, Robert Frank

Street Car, New Orleans, 1955, Robert Frank

In 2004 Frank said, “The kind of photography I did is gone. It’s old,” I couldn’t disagree more. His work inspires with an energy that prods a deeper look into his ability to see the invisible in daily living. He was a master of black and white and of the human condition.

View other entires for this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog.

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 Abstraction, Human Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Devices Photo Challenge: Challenger’s Choice – Abstraction (at the Pond)

  1. I like both but two is my favourite. I like the lines of dead bulrush leaves? Observing nature is a calling!!

  2. I don’t have a specific favorite of those two images.

  3. We discover good things, image, reading and blogging, with this good article! Thanks.

  4. Tina Schell says:

    Good post Sally, lots to think about. Well done.

  5. restlessjo says:

    Didn’t have time to comment when I ran past the other day, Sally, and your posts are worth so much more than that. Intriguing details, and always that extra bit of thought. 🙂 Initially I went for the more recognisable shot, but then when I look again in close up, the other is fascinating. Rather like life 🙂 I wish you a happy weekend, Sally. Doubt I’ll be back till after the Algarve.

  6. thirdeyemom says:

    Gorgeous Sally words and photos. I love how you use your photography on nature to discuss climate change and issues we have if we don’t act. Keep it up!

  7. I like both images of Mother Nature’s intricate patterns and structures. Both are very beautiful. And by the way, The Americans is absolutely one of my favourite photo books.

    • Frank’s work is a quiet and loud inspiration. I’m reading the publication Robert Frank, Moving Out, which celebrates his gift to the National Gallery of Art. It’s informative and mesmerizing. Thanks.

  8. DG MARYOGA says:

    You are one with nature dear Sally! Great source of inspiration its endless beauty my friend.
    Both photos are beautiful with wondrous ice effects !BTW,before commenting here, I clicked the suggested links and found interesting info about Frank’s work and the National Gallery of Art ; nice vintage feeling and plenty of nostalgia ! Loved Frank’s 1955 Street Car photo you included at the very end of your post.Thank you , Doda 🙂 xxx

  9. Gallivanta says:

    The future of water is indeed uncertain. Right now, we are nearing drought like conditions. Love the way you have captured the bubbles in your photos.

  10. Lovely images, Sally. I really liked the gorgeous shade of blue in the second pic. 🙂

  11. lumar1298 says:

    I find both to be great pictures, but I like the bubbles of the water more…

  12. Su Leslie says:

    I love both of these Sally! They are so full of energy and mystery. Here’s my contribution. Cheers, Su.

  13. I love the intricate detail, it is so eye catching and engaging.

  14. wisejourney says:

    No 2 Sally. I like its graphic nature

  15. Wonderful abstractions, Sally. This week I think #2 is my favorite as I like the inclusion of the plant material along with the ice bubbles. Thanks for sharing the links about Robert Frank, I’ve just spent a fascinating hour reading about his work and viewing photos and plan to devote more time soon.

  16. Nato says:

    Tough call as I like them both. But if forced to pick one, I would go with the second. I like the contrast of colors and the materials. For my entry this week, I went with some food photos.

  17. “Still, I believe my hope is not an empty place, but a space of immense possibility for the planet’s recovery.” This is a beautiful statement, Sally, and I sincerely and actively hope for things to turn around in our planet’s journey. The world we knew is disappearing all to fast. Documenting nature and allowing it to touch your inner self like you do, is commendable and a way for many to learn to cherish nature. I like the strong lines in the second photo.It is fabulous when enlarged. I am off to check out the other entries and Frank’s work. I feel sure they will have another story to tell.
    Street/Travel Phoneography is my theme this week:

  18. It has been a LOT of years since I’ve been anywhere that would have frozen lakes or streams. I love that first photo. There’s something mesmerizing about it for me. 🙂

    • Linda, our winter has been bitter cold, really the way winter should be. Still, we’ve missed most of the snow. This last BIG storm fizzled. It’s the joy of Mother Nature. She plays with us, and we think that we are so clever and smart. See you soon. Thanks.

  19. Suzanne says:

    Fascinating images –

  20. The first one speaks to me more. Even though the pond is frozen, the squiggles in the ice give it the appearance of being alive and moving. Love it!

  21. Your experience of nature is so different than mine this week (yesterday was 70 and sunny here) but we both went right for the water. Image # 1 speaks to me more, and perhaps it’s just a preference of color and composition, but also may be the implications of what’s beneath the surface.

    Here’s my entry:

    The Unlikely Duo for Self-Expression

    • Yes, I am always drawn to the sight of water–whether silent (this pond) or rushing (your waterfall). Often I feel that I can never capture the essence of its preciousness. Its ability to sustain all that we know and don’t gives it an ephemeral quality. See you soon. Thanks so much.

      • Your posts, and your comments, are always so thoughtful. Would love to talk with you over a glass of wine sometime!

      • Jann, that’s the loveliest of invitations. Wish that I could visit Austin–a city of great culture and sensibility. Maybe someday we can have that glass and muse over common and non-so-common interests. I’m humbled. Thanks.

      • Funny how you meet folks blogging that you may never really meet in person, but you share an affinity with. There’s always the virtual glass of wine option, using FaceTime or Skype! Until then, Sally . . . and I do hope you get to Austin sometime. Everyone should.

      • Yes, Austin does call. Well, let’s hope that we can at least continue our online dialogue. I’m enjoying the way our individual visions intersect.

  22. suej says:

    The first one for me, it looks more abstract….

  23. Interesting abstract photos. My favourite must be the first one. I love all the bubble affects across the image. 😀

  24. MJF Images says:

    Love both of them, very unusual.

  25. Angeline M says:

    Wonderful post, Sally. That second photo took my breath away when I enlarged it! The composition, color, and texture all make for beautiful. And thanks so much for the introduction to Robert Frank. I can’t wait to go to the NPR video. I am enjoying doing some exploring of the everyday American at my own level too.

    • Angeline, the National Gallery of Art’s page with their online archival collection of Frank’s work is packed with information and photographs. Keep digging and you can see much more than you might think. Thanks so much.

  26. Cristina says:

    Hi Sally 🙂 Both images are fantastic ! but the first one is my favorite 🙂

  27. I’m usually a bit on the fence, but this time there is no doubt Sally, the first photo when viewed larger is a brilliant piece of abstract work! Love it!!

  28. I need to take my time and digest the photography history lesson as well as musing on Nature. Both photos are great examples of elements of design, well match for contrast of angles and curves.
    Happy Monday Challenge. Hope the storm misses you.

  29. pattimoed says:

    Hi Sally! Robert Frank’s work is stunning and his book The Americans has been a real photographic treasure. I appreciated the links to the other sites about his work. I’m curious whether you use a macro lens attachment for your iPhone. I used the Olloclip when I had the iPhone, and now I’m deliberating whether to get one for my Samsung. Happy Monday!–Patti

    • Patti, I have not bought an external lens for the iPhone 6. I’m debating, because the reviews have been so-so. I’d like to be able to get even better details. The Olloclip has a good reputation for the older model iPhones, not the newer ones. I’m not sure about the other Smartphones. Let’s keep chatting about it. See you soon. Thanks.

  30. Sally,
    They are both beautiful and a work of art, but I go for the bubbles. Just because of the juxtaposition for what we have and might have not, as well as for the colors and warmth. As always, you bring photos with introspection. Thanks.
    I appreciated immensely the Tip of the Week, and fully agree with you, that his work is inspiring.
    Thanks much.

  31. Amy says:

    I rally like both images! These two are so creatively captured, Sally. The details are incredible.

  32. anniedm778 says:

    I love the Bubbles & Ice photo. It shows so many layers under the surface. Both photos are great!

  33. Maria F. says:

    Both are pleasing to the eye, the second one has pleasing criss- crossed diagonal lines and nice color.

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