Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Macro (Photography and Time)

14 September 2015


1. Oak Leaf; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Oak Leaf; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Oak Leaf; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Oak Leaf; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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


“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” ~~ American photographer Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)

“Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” ~~ American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946)

For the last few weeks the early signs of autumn’s signature have been steadily building. One of the most evident is the shedding of leaves from trees. During this movement from one season to the next and redefinition of the landscape, I am pushed to ponder the deeper meaning behind these changes.

As the years pile upon each other, time becomes more and more a mainstay in my thinking. It fills my thoughts with contrasts that juggle between clarity and unrest, past and present, being here and not. This constancy of musing is even more pronounced now, because the wonderment of human nature is inextricably linked to autumn’s grasp and time’s canter.

Part of my focus about time and space is apparent through my visual orientation. Every gaze, every decision to acknowledge, dismiss or seize a moment is about timing. But it’s also about personal choice, philosophy and spiritual well-being.

As I observe autumn’s approach (acorns, descending leaves, spent annuals, migrating birds…), evidence of the shifting season can be measured in passing days and hours and months. The passage of time is also calculated by my passion for photography. It helps me record my universe, space and visual orientation. As a teeny tiny part of the greater universe, I feel found not lost with a lens to frame my world.

Each photograph tracts time and melts it too. It stills only what I see. I do not contemplate its loss, but admire its elusiveness. It’s similar to a precarious footbridge: wobbling and yet carrying me to a destination, providing safe passage, unsettling with secrets and surprises, but unwavering in its ability to help me see, really see what is before me.

You cannot photograph time, but you can (somewhat) replicate what is in front of the lens. Only recently do cameras actually record what the eye sees (not really). There has always been a delay, stopping time but not in the mind’s cadence. But does that matter? a second here or a nanosecond there.

What is real time? Or is the result similar enough to the original composition to erase the notion of real time? And what about Stieglitz’s point of view (see quote)?

While time can be baffling and tricky, it provides a structure—a constancy in the un-constant universe. Still the construct stands very much in control of humanity’s  perceptions, and more often than not we are subservient to it.

A photograph provides an image that can be so intoxicating as to ask us to jump inside the frame and relive the moment: experience the story being told. If a photograph is that seductive, on one level it has done its job, even if we only want to be a voyeur.

In that stilled moment we give a lost point in time a continued life—not a present life, but an archival life nevertheless. We are visiting a space that does not exist, and yet is in our real time.

Photography is a “time” capsule that gives a different dimension to a part of the universe that already had its own dimension. This quality of photography is one of the reasons that its invention had such an effect on the medium of painting. The artist was no longer required to revive the memory of a particular place in time, and the photograph’s popularity steadily soared.

On my daily walk this week an oak leaf caught my attention: its relationship to the confluence of change and time were evident. Its symbolism stood front and center. The leaf was simultaneously decomposing by the action of insects and time.

Macro week seems a perfect platform to show that time can be seen and yet is invisible.  We sees its workings, its evidence, its effects, its physical ramifications in, for example,  the oak leaf.

But we cannot hold time. It just is. Still photography seems a way to preserve it. Or is it?

Tip of the Week: I believe strongly that it’s important to be aware of all the arts: literary, performing and visual. But I admit to making myself more and more privy to current and past photographers’ works through exhibitions, print and online sources. Recently, I learned about the Sony World Photography Awards. Click here (from CNN website) to see the 2015 finalists. Awards are given to amateurs and professionals, and in last year’s competition they had a record number of entries: 173,444 images from 171 countries. The work captivates. In some cases even breaks the mind’s perception of what a photograph is. Hope that you will take a few minutes to see them.

SONY 2015 Awards

Andrew Suryono, Indonesia, Nature and Wildlife Category, Sony World Photography Awards, 2015

View other entries from this week’s challenge:


As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.

If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming 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, Panorama, 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 Design, Macro Photography, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Macro (Photography and Time)

  1. We were thinking along similar lines this week, Sally and your post expresses thoughts about the passage of time in such an eloquent way. Beautiful words and images threaded together once again…lovely.

  2. MJF Images says:

    Very well said. Time is a puzzling phenomenon to be sure!

  3. Dina says:

    I like both images. And all of the quotes you picked to underline your artistic work. Lovely work, Sally.

  4. nexi says:

    Prefer the top one – the warmer colouring reminds me of old leather handbags…..

  5. I am late to the challenge, but enjoyed participating again.
    I do often think about photography being able to freeze time. I think this is what attracts me most about it. One has time to study life-like details and ponder on many aspects of the subject. I prefer the first photo this week Sally. I love the shadows you have created on under the surface of the leaf. It is a fantastic leaf, almost worth meditating on, and the photo allows anyone in the cyber world to do just that, without having the photo themselves.

  6. I just can’t believe Fall is here….well NOT in Texas anyway! Smile.

  7. Love the images. I think I’m drawn to the darker first one. I find myself missing the fall colors living here in Florida. Your comments about time are profound. Time seems to be able to either limit or expand us. I hope to be able to take some time and link through to the Photography Awards. Thanks, Sally! 🙂

  8. I love that shadow etch on the second!!

  9. You are right in that one cannot capture time, however one can capture the changes of time – as the falling leaf of fall represents as in these photos. Both are very elegant and stylish.

  10. I always learn so much from your posts, it is such a pleasure to follow your blog.

  11. Both images are beautiful, Sally, and that, together with your words, are jaw-dropping.

  12. pattimoed says:

    Great shots, Sally. I really like the color of the leaves and the repetition of the curved lines in the second image. The shadow adds a depth to the image too.

  13. I think I like the first one best, Sally. But they’re both OUTSTANDING. 🙂

  14. Amy says:

    Beautiful oak leaf images! Can’t believe fall is almost here…

  15. Maria F. says:

    Magnificent subject matter Sally, simply superb.

  16. Suzanne says:

    I like the abstract quality of photo 2. The colour of the leaf against the white background is very effecive in both photos.

  17. Nato says:

    I am drawn more to the second at first glance. I think it is the fact that I can see more of the leaf’s outlining shape that draws me in. I really enjoyed your pens section too. I agree, photography is a way to stop time and freeze it, almost making it more real than the moment itself. Wonderful quotes and points on that topic! I look forward to checking out the link you provided too.

    Here are my thoughts for this week’s challenge:

  18. elisa ruland says:

    I like the dimension you have captured in each photograph. The shadowing in the little tears and holes make the leaves appear much thicker than they are in life. Very nice, Sally!

  19. I have to go with number 2 today, Sally. I like your use of white space and, as Allan mentioned, the shadow. There are more leaves on the ground now and the acorns are coming down as well. But green is still the overwhelmingly predominate color, especially after all the rain we just had this weekend. Lovely, lovely time of year.


    • Janet, yes, just as I think that we are in a drought, Mother Nature comes to the rescue. Wish she would go to the West Coast. Although I read that El Nino is coming, and hopefully will actually appear in the Pacific to ease their drought. Autumn is truly a gift to all of us. See you soon. Enjoy the changing landscape and patterns of light.

  20. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Hi Sally. I really like the way that you have incorporated the shadow of the leaf to accentuate the form. The second one is my favorite. It could almost be cut out of plywood. Ω

  21. Profound thoughts, Sally, especially underscored by the quotes. True, time is elusive. I’m glad, though, that a photo can capture the brevity of a moment and make it eternal.

    Who would’ve thought that a leaf with so many holes would look so artistic? And I love that the veins are so pronounced. Beautiful capture, Sally. My favourite is the first one.

    I don’t know if you’re an author, but I feel so strongly that, if you haven’t done so already, you could consider publishing your photography, along with your writings. They make such a lovely pairing.

    • Nadine, your comments bring a smile across my morning. Yes, I have published a few books. None have included my photographs. I have been exploring the possibility of doing a printed book and an e-version. I must decide a venue that suits the pairing of images and words. My sincere thanks for your encouragement.

  22. tiramit says:

    Oak leaf against such a lovely white background. Both images are so real…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s