Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (and Peonies)

01 June 2015


1. White Peony; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

1. White Peony; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. White Peony; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. White Peony; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

Let me know which you prefer and why. I encourage you to click onto the image to enlarge.


I know that I gush with exuberance with spring’s unfolding, especially magnolias, tulips and the escalating arc of this season’s light. Still, the discovery of my white peonies angling for my attention is easily overwhelming.

While caring for a triangular-shaped garden at the tip of my property, those sensual flower heads were bending from the heft of their multiple petals. Those almost pure white blooms have many components that give them a graceful and strongly provocative presence. Peonies have a profound effect upon me, one that escalates at each stage of its existence.

I snip a few clusters and take them inside to savor their perfume that spreads itself dramatically. As I place them in a tall vase, I feel a wave of emotion. One touch of the petals astounds my sensibilities: their silky surface is seductive and smooth, their cool touch raises the senses, their luxurious “fabric” feels exotic against the skin. Often as I breathe in their aroma, petals brush my cheeks and the sensation is indescribable. Their delicacy competes for my thoughts.

The drama continues. Each flowerhead has petals seemingly stitched in a circular design. A day or two or three after their arrangement, petals begin to fall. I allow them to stay wherever they rest. They land in patterns that entice me to cut more to see the merriment that they will undoubtedly create.

3. White Peony in Vase; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

3. White Peony in Vase; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

In another area of my gardens a tree peony has luscious pink flowers, but this year it had only one flower. While the white ones were brazen with boughs of plenty, it matters not that the other variety was less generous. That single pink flower has exactly the same effect upon me. That bloom was slipped into a small bowl where its precision was displayed, and its insight bestowed a quiet repose. It’s hard to fathom that such a small flower can be so demure and yet so powerful.

It’s multiple petals gathered together by Mother Nature provide magic in their aesthetic, aroma, luster and textures. They compelled me to write an ode to their unfolding.

Ode to Peony:

Hushing morning’s noisy distractions.                                                                                            My garden’s voice sprouts dainties of exotic clusters that dangle heightened perceptions.

On the north side of the sycamore those plants reveal seasonal gifts.                               Visual acuity pulls inward and outward,

And a peony’s allure romances its luscious character.                                                                    I am ablaze with memories plied by the moment’s impermanence and silent awe.

Tip of the Week: On 19 May online Shutterbug (the digital version of the print magazine) published an article by Joe Farace, which focused on Smart Shooting. Farce discussed his favorite Smartphone cameras and apps. He also talked about mobile photography and its partner, social media. To read it, click here.

View other entries 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 Black-and-White Photography, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (and Peonies)

  1. badfish says:

    Very nice shots. I like the first one, I like the array, arrangement, flow of it better. But both nice.

  2. Tina Schell says:

    Lovely shots Sally – I prefer the second but couldn’t say why! I do miss the peonies that grew gloriously in my NJ garden. Sadly it’s too hot down here for them. But then, we do have the magnolias 🙂

  3. If the pot can be lightened a bit, then I’d go with photo 2. Like ’em both, though. 🙂

  4. Beautiful peonies, Sally. As I type my comment today a fresh bouquet of soft pink ones is sitting on my right side and the scent is as wonderful as you described. 🙂

  5. Madhu says:

    I like the second. The vase anchors the fuller blooms. I am familiar with the shape, colour and look of peonies from their representation on fabric and china and paper, but I haven’t ever seen or touched one! Your vivid description tells me I am missing something special 🙂

  6. Gallivanta says:

    Your words express exactly how I feel about the peony, Sally. And your second photo is the one that speaks those same words to me in visual form.

  7. Hello there! I stumbled upon your challenge through another blogger. I thought I would share some photos I just recently took with my iPhone of the forest after the 97,000 acre King Fire in El Dorado County, California. I enhanced the photos using an app called Enlight that I am very fond of at the moment. The colors are fairly true to the original, I used the app merely to kick them up a notch. Check them out! 🙂

  8. There is a classical feel to the black and white photos. Beautiful images.

  9. Suzanne says:

    I prefer the second shot here. I think it captures more of the delicacy of the peony. Here’s my contribution to the challenge. The page layout has gone a bit peculiar. I hope it’s readable. Thanks for an interesting challenge.

  10. You are smitten with these gorgeous, sensual flowers! Beautiful images and words!

  11. Lovely photos. I think that the second one speaks to me more as I like the faint outline of the vase too. It is more like a still life to me then. If that sounds correct.

  12. pattimoed says:

    What gorgeous shots and descriptions of the sensual and fragrant peony! I love your emotional response to them. They are truly a “star” of the spring/summer garden. Of the 3 shots, I like the first one the best because of its composition, clarity, and texture. Thanks as always for your inspiration and advice, Sally.

  13. Amy says:

    Love how you captured the petals, so beautiful. Thank you for the tips of the week. Here is my entry:

  14. Maria F. says:

    I like both of them, different compositions for different moods.

  15. Su Leslie says:

    Love these photos Sally. The first particularly has a sculptural quality that really draws me. Here’s my contribution to the theme:

  16. I was reading about the painter Ford Madox Brown and came across his painting of Romeo and Juliet, which I see is in the Delaware Art Museum. Have you seen it?

    • Steve, yes, I have. In fact, I recently wrote a piece for a catalog of an upcoming show at the museum that focuses on the local art scene in the 70s and 80s. Enjoy your week. I think of you on the search for the next wildflower to share with “us.”

  17. Gorgeous peonies, Sally. And I must say that I was drawn to your emotional response to them. It is very beautiful what you said. All photos are therefore unique, special, and deserve to be chosen, as they evoke different emotions. As such, there is no better emotion than the other.
    Have a lovely week.

  18. Love images, Sally. Peonies take me back to a happy childhood! 🙂

  19. Sue says:

    I love the first image, personally – something to do with the fall of the light and shade bringing out the contours and elegant folds of the flower. À chacun son goût!

  20. Love the first one for the depth of field. I could be looking into space at a galaxy or flowers! It is a portrait of Spring unfolding!
    Happy Monday

  21. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Sally, I like the last two photos the most, and of them—the second B&W. The addition of the vase fading into the background gives the composition a bit of a “curl” (like a large comma) and adds some motion to the image. Well done. Ω

  22. Angeline M says:

    I love your second photo with what I thought was a reflection at the bottom, but then see it’s the vase. Wonderful compositions and perspectives.

  23. Nato says:

    So hard to choose! The first is dramatic. The second’s petals draw me in. And the framing of the third is just so appealing. Nature does provide us with some many options and inspirations indeed. Here is my submission for the week:

  24. The second photo is particularly luscious. I love how open it is. The poem is also a perfect caption to it. Wonderful feature, Sally.

  25. Helen C says:

    Good morning, Sally. This is a very difficult one. After staring at those photos for a while, I have to wave a white flag… For me, the first one is beautiful; second seductive; third inviting. I love all of them. Thank you.

  26. I wish I could see your garden. I’m sure it’s beautiful. Have you been to Longwood Gardens recently? I came back from the desert heat to chilly temperatures here in Illinois, but I’m getting ready to go out for my walk and see how the park looks after my week away. I’m sure it will be much more lush, particularly after being in the desert. 🙂

    I love the clarity of the peonies in the first photo, but the vase adds a softness and beauty that’s irresistible.

    Have a wonderful week,


    • Janet, we just had a big rain last night–the first in weeks and weeks. I was at Longwood Gardens a few weeks ago. It is a true national treasure. Hope that your walk provided a quiet start to your day. Thanks.

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