Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (Refraction Series, 2015)

02 November 2015


1. Refractions at Midday; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Refractions at Midday; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Refractions at Midday; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Refractions at Midday; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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


Abstractions are prevalent in nature, and often we miss their presence. Usually we are focused on the known, and slide over the non-objective character of a sliver of bark beautifully textured, a droplet of snow melting in the sun, a clump of seeds billowing in the wind. One of my favorites is a refraction that appears daily on my wall, and only at this time of year as the sun’s angle lowers. The pleasure of its company cannot be overestimated. While it lasts, every day is a reinvention of light’s rays.

The details of its intimate appearance reminds me of the convergence of nature and human nature. That refraction lands because the wall receives it. The monochromatic contrast, shapes and tones are more evident, because the surface is painted a white with a tinge of grey. Its complexity and simplicity moved back and forth, changing its performance and keeping me glued to its movements. At each gaze it coalesced and then began to dissipate. Although I cannot see the light as it moves through the window, that wave finds solace in front of me and I’m captive.

The symmetry varied from second to second. It danced and gyrated, rarely standing still. It took three minutes for the refraction in the Lens section to continuously alter its form and then disappear. That refraction was sculpted with a gentle delicacy, and its imagery reminded me only of itself: an abstraction of light’s bounty.

Nature continues to be my muse, and this day-to-day act of autumn’s light is an example of her grip upon me. We tend to give nature definition and meaning, but sometimes her gifts are entirely different: abstractions that evoke and provoke other worlds of her aesthetics.

Tip of the Week:

“[we] come from nature.…There is an importance to [having] a certain reverence for what nature is because we are connected to it… If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.” ~~ Edward Burtynsky

In 1981 photographer Edward Burtynsky began to photograph a part of nature that clearly was a collaboration (not necessarily a good one) between human nature and Mother nature: open-pit mines. The mammoth size of Chino mine in Silver City, New Mexico, struck him so deeply that he started wandering the globe in search of similar landscapes. After decades of recording these sights, he says, “In the beginning … We would look up at a thundercloud or mountain, or across a heavy sea, and be awe-struck or powerless. But fast forward to the Industrial Revolution, and 150 years after that, and now we are the awesome and fearsome force that’s reshaping the planet … We work in a world of atoms and molecules … I’m talking to you on a phone. There’s copper in this phone. It’s in our appliances and cars, inside the walls of our homes. If you feel revulsion to this landscape,’’ he said, ‘‘you should have a revulsion to your whole life.’” (from an article in The New York Times, Sunday magazine, 22 October 2015) Burtynsky has spent his career documenting the way in which humanity has changed the planet’s landscape–a landscape that can be interpreted from several viewpoints: those who oppose what “WE” have done that also has affected the environment, or those who look away, or those who see our intervention as a necessary evil, or those that profit from this invasion, or those that see humanity’s survival through its use. To see more of his work, click here.

Chino Mine, Silver City, N.M., Edward Burtynsky:Howard Greenberg Gallery

Chino Mine, Silver City, N.M., Edward Burtynsky:Howard Greenberg Gallery

View other entries for 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 Abstraction, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (Refraction Series, 2015)

  1. DG MARYOGA says:

    Never too late to admire your always inspiring and influential work,dear Sally!It was a matter of secs,but you competently caught the magic of the refraction of light!Different angles or just a sec’s different refraction?Both photos have amazing effect,the second one though displays more spectacularly the phenomenon.Looking forward to your new work 🙂

  2. Tina Schell says:

    As always Sally – all about the light. Both are very interesting in different ways – well done!

  3. elisa ruland says:

    The first reflection has the fluidity and gracefulness of a jelly fish deep under water. The connection between man and water is always present, it seems. Beautiful shots, Sally.

  4. Leya says:

    Beautiful and mystical both. Somehow i like the first one best. I think it is because of its direction and it having a more undefined start and more direct ending.

  5. Both, very definitely both are very special…Enjoy your coming weekend.

  6. Chiaroscuro; light and shadow; what’s not to love?

  7. thirdeyemom says:

    Beautiful Sally! I often wonder if I am the only one who notices the changing light and how it shines through my windows each day of the year. I feel very connected to light and lack of it for some reason. I always have. Wonderful entry! Soon I shall be pulling out my winter light for my morning routine until about February.

    • Nicole, what did you mean: pulling out your winter light…Is that because it is so dark? I must say that I prefer the other seasons. But winter has its redeeming qualities. Thanks.

      • thirdeyemom says:

        It is a light for seasonal affective disorder. I bought it when my kids were babies because I had them in November and realized waking in the dark had an impact on my mood. Now when it is dark at 6/630 I put it on for about 15 minutes in the kitchen when I’m waking up and I swear by it. I’m really effected by light. By about February when it starts slowly getting lighter I put it away for the year. I do like winter too but it is long here.

      • Nicole, I definitely have a touch of it too. Since you’ve used that one and it works, can you send me the information. How did you decide on which one to get? Thanks.

      • thirdeyemom says:

        Of course! I got it on Amazon and it is made by Sphere Gadget Technologies. Just do a search for sad lights and you should find a ton. Mine is small and has three settings and also a timer. I usually do 15
        Minutes and put it on my counter so it is indirectly hitting me. It cost I believe under 50$ and is very worth it!

      • Nicole, that’s fabulous. Thanks.

  8. Su Leslie says:

    Extraordinary images Sally, but even more enjoyable is your lyrical narrative of explanation and enjoyment of this natural phenomenon. Wonderful!

  9. Nato says:

    I enjoyed both photos. I will say the first one has a touch of magic to it as well. It seems to dance in the air. I am intrigued by these and hope to experiment on capturing some one day. I always look forward to your posts: both pictures and words! It is always so thoughtful and informative. Thank you so much for your challenge that is becoming a staple on my own blog. I love trying to tie some writing into the endless phone pictures I take when I don’t have my SLR camera with me. And I am always bummed out a little when life gets in the way of this challenge! So thanks again!! Oh, and here is my post that I made today:

  10. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like your second image. It reminds me of a chalk drawing on a blackboard. Is that a rug or a stretch of asphalt?

    On a side note: I have seen Burtynsky’s work in the past and it is marvelous. I worked on on some mines in Colorado back in the ’70s and they are other-worldly places.

    Here is my entry for the week:

    • Allan, the background is an inside wall. Wow, you’ve actually had day-to-day opportunities to see the pluses and minuses of such mines. You certainly have had some extraordinary experiences. I appreciate your comment.

  11. Forestwoodfolkart says:

    I love the Burtynsky quote. We live in the one world and although we think it is big enough to handle contamination and destruction, we shall have to face the consequences of these actions at some stage. I love the photos too. This is such an interesting subject and I am really inspired to try photographing some light refractions.

  12. Sally, I can’t choose as I like both of them. I remember the same type of image you made last year. Fantastic that you made it again.
    Thought provoking text and as always, a delightful read.
    Have a wonderful week.

  13. Ulli says:

    Dear Sally, I Like them both, they are both very dynamic, only the direction of each are different and their for their form–well done!!! And somehow they are fitting to my pictures of light, which are showing today on my blog–I asked, too, who is liking what pic- the answers are interesting- I learned it from you 😉
    have a good time
    all the best

  14. You always find such interesting images to take. I love both of your photos

  15. Angeline M says:

    Wonderful captures of light refraction. I love both of them. Catching light like this is magical, even mystical at times.
    I really do have to thank you for getting me out of my own way and getting me out into nature yesterday to enjoy the beauty, and get photos for today’s challenge. The quote by Edward Burtynsky is one to be remembered.

  16. As a child I taken to slag heaps of mines looking for fossils, by my mother. I remember being both fascinated and repulsed. Our family history is interwoven with mining and oil production, it is all a complicated relationship. We must be mindful of the choices we make NOW it seems.
    Your images are fascinating. #1 is 3 dimensional #2 has wonderful texture. Can’t choose a favorite.

  17. Amy says:

    Beautiful captures, Sally. I’m combining the Monday Walk with your Mobile photography this week since I took all the photos with my iPhone.

  18. I like the first reflection best, Sally. It made a bouquet of flowers spring to mind! 😀

  19. I like the first photo, Sally. It looks like the light is dancing. Such a beautiful, ethereal image. I also like your thoughts on light. Quite profound.

    Thanks for sharing Mr. Burtynsky’s quote on nature. It should be on billboards all over the world.

    Have a great week (and month)!

    • Nadine, wouldn’t it be startling and wondrous if the world woke up with a new mindset circling around his quote. Enjoy your week and send some warm sunny days this way. I appreciate your thoughtful comment. Thanks.

  20. Sally, I love the abstract quality of these photos. They convey the dancing beauty of sunlight, even in B&W. Have a wonderful week. I hope your time away was refreshing.


  21. pattimoed says:

    Intriguing reflections! I can see why they fascinate and inspire you. A few months ago, I saw the Edward Burtynsky exhibit at our local art museum. His work is huge–both in size and impact. I especially liked his images of the Ganges River in India. Thanks as always for a thought-provoking post!

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