Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Macro (and Refractions in the Time of Uncertainty)

14 December 2015


I. Post Processed in Snapped and Distressed FX

1. Afternoon Refraction, ; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Afternoon Refraction, ; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

II. Post Processed in Snapseed and FX Photo Studio

2. Afternoon Refraction; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Afternoon Refraction; Copyright © 2015 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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


“There’s a quiet assurance that the world is a wonderful place,” he concluded. “I tell people very often, if you look at a tree and you’re not joyous, it’s not the world’s fault. It’s your fault.” Louis Sterner (b. 1922, American photographer)

Even while Mother Nature continues to be the high roller, humans are placing filters over nature’s triumphant presence. And so I must absorb the results of the finale of the climate talks and react slowly, hoping that the quest for the greater good will  be realized.

Various layers of these human-induced filters explain the way we are affecting the planet: building barriers and introducing forces that are detrimental. These veils of the unwanted pollute us emotionally and physically.

In the Lens section are two images that inspired this post. These refractions are part of an ongoing fascination that I have trying to make sense of  the ephemeral vs. the visual effect they produce.

I gaze upon them and second upon second passes, and they become another illusion, elevating a new shape, easing forward and yet moving toward nothingness. As they float across the wall, they remind me that nature becomes a promise—a promise that tomorrow some other miracle of light will perform for me. But that promise will only occur with the sun’s presence. Regardless, the magic is palpable, and keeps pumping me with a reality within the illusion.

We create ideas and language to represent human construct. And still the refraction exists as a symbol of nature’s way with us. While they represent these symbols, refractions remain nature’s reinvention each and every day. The abstraction of a single one acts as a metaphor for human invention that has infiltrated the heart of nature.

When I spy them, their entertainment is only part of their allure. They are prevalent now, because the lower angle of the sun allows them to enter my physical space. Even in their slight resemblance to yesterday’s, they were unique on that day, cunning in their own display.

While they are posted in the order of their appearance, the two images donned my wall within seconds of each other. As I pondered the comparison of these natural wonders to the fractured world of our planet, I began to play with various filters–a representation of the real world within the source of light–a necessary key to our existence–that is on a constant move to be some place.

The final images are playful, images of hope that provoke feelings of floating and lightness. Those sensations are human emotions that can elicit other responses, just as refractions do for me. Still, the images also can be left for the viewer to interpret a completely different variation of the weightiness of being.

In these uncertain times a moment that is stilled by a wonder of nature can give pause for what is most important. But it also focuses attention on the constancy of nature to elevate the moment, and thus my life.

Tip of the Week:

“Still photographs often differ from life more by their silence than by the immobility of their subjects. Landscape pictures tend to converge with life, however, on summer nights, when the sounds outside, after we call in children and close garage doors, are small – the whir of moths, the snap of a stick.”
Robert Adams

Many photographers are particularly attuned to the magic hours of a light-filled day. These golden hours are synchronized by the sunrise and sunset. Recently, I came across a book, Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour (2006), that you might want to read. Based on an exhibition by the same name, Martin Barnes and Kate Best, curators for the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, show the works of eight photographers whose photographs reveal the possibilities about this time that marches toward the inevitable dark of night. Part of the curators’ goal was to emphasize how photography had become more of an art for storytelling than for the archive of the documentary. From the exhibition and book here is an example by Robert Adams (b. 1937, American photographer):

"Summer Night," Robert Adams

“Summer Night,” Longmont, Colorado, ca, 1979, Robert Adams

Click here to read a review from The Guardian about the 2006 exhibition.

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

36 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Macro (and Refractions in the Time of Uncertainty)

  1. I really like both of these-the black and white appears more ethereal to me–light and luminous, yet there is an ominous presence about it. The color has a completely different energy to it-more anchored and solid-almost metallic in appearance. Wonderful images both Sally!

  2. Aquileana says:

    Hi Sally… the processed photograph is awesome, but so is the original as well…
    I enjoyed the reading and learning new tips… thanks a lot. Merry Christmas and all my best wishes to you. Aquileana 🎄

  3. MJF Images says:

    Very interesting! I prefer the second because of its greater simplicity I think.

  4. Su Leslie says:

    I am at the same time joyful that the Paris summit reached an agreement, and afraid that away from the spotlight, countries will revert to “business as usual.” It appears the NZ govt has already done so. As to your images; both are marvelous and have a wonderful mysterious feminine quality. The first is more powerful; a close-up from a painting by Reubens or Rembrandt perhaps? The second calls to mind images I saw in an exhibition of photos by Man Ray. It is darker and somewhat disturbing. A reminder of all we have to lose if we continue to ignore nature.

    • Su, thank you of your thoughtful response to my work. It’s difficult at times not to be overly concerned about the future of the planet. I hope, hope, hope that there are enough advocates for the health of Mother Earth to work on her behalf, and therefore all living creatures. I am humbled by your references to my two images. Thank you so much.

  5. thirdeyemom says:

    I was overjoyed that finally after two decades an agreement has been made. I know it has it’s faults but at least it is a start and brings hope.

  6. I am hoping next year after the holidays to start applying some of my knowledge that I have learned to my iPhone images. I will definitely be looking at yours to learn more…you are a pro my friend.

    • Laurie, I’m humbled. Feel free to ask me any questions, and I’ll be honest if I cannot answer. Enjoy your lovely family now and throughout the holidays and in the New Year. See you soon. Thanks so much for your comment.

  7. Maria F. says:

    Beautiful abstracts Sally!

  8. What a wonderful post Sally. The images are indeed playful. I really prefer the first one a little more, because of its nuances of colour and because of its composition within the frame. Although both images are really beautiful and showcase the delicate fragility of the subject. I also enjoy using snapseed, but have yet to try fx studio. I also love the quote by Adams you have included here.

  9. Angeline M says:

    I love them both, but lean towards the first for the umber color that gives it such warmth. My first thought upon looking at the second photo is that I was seeing a dancer with a filmy gown, leaping through the air. Ah, interesting to read what everyone else sees too. Aren’t our eyes wonderful?
    Have a good week, and thanks for this wonderful challenge.

    • Angeline, that’s lovely. It’s a pleasure to have you part of the challenge’s community. You’re absolutely correct: It’s always an education to read the responses. I’m sure that you feel that way with your blog too. See you soon. Thanks so much.

  10. Jane Lurie says:

    They are both interesting, Sally. The color version reminds me of the slot canyons in the west. The B&W for some reason reminds me of a bat. Thanks for my morning inkblot test. 🙂

  11. DG MARYOGA says:

    Both are beautiful, dear Sally, the first one is more effectual and abstract while the second one takes a more concrete shape, at least to my eyes. Looks like a rose bud protected by strong sepals. How deceptive and illusionary the refractions of light can be.

  12. Hi Sally, I like both photos. You make the best photos with refraction. The effects are amazing.

  13. I prefer the colour version – it gives the impression of a person behind the veil. Such interesting impressions.

  14. Amy says:

    I like both too, Sally. Such a creative way to capture. 🙂

  15. kutukamus says:

    I’ll put the first one on walls where many eyes could see (if it’s in, say, a cafe, I think it will add some character to the room), and I’ll put the second one in my study room (the somewhat leave-everything-to-imagination feel—even the white space ‘speaks’, will be great for inspirations, I guess) 🙂

  16. What has the light passed through or reflected off on its way to the places where you photographed its image?

  17. I like them both, Sally, but I’m drawn to the second one. I like its translucent quality and ethereal feel. Have a wonderful week.


  18. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like both of your photos this week, Sally. The first one looks like light thrown on the wall of a cave, some rudimentary drawings and shapes barely visible. The second one is almost like a someone face-down in a glass bowl, or perhaps viewed from below underwater. I like the effect—it is whimsical and a touch unsettling.

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