Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Early Spring Awakening)

21 March 2016


I. Taken in Camera + and Post Processed in Snapseed

1. Magnolia Stellata, Snapseed; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Magnolia Stellata; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

II. Taken in Camera+ and Post Processed in Polamatic

Magnolia Stellata; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Magnolia Stellata; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Let me know which you prefer. Click on image to enlarge, which takes you to another page. If you decide to leave a comment, please return to this page.


Yesterday was the dawn of this year’s spring season, but many of us have been witnesses to the quickening of its presence for weeks. As a capable and competent gardener, I know the signs. I am privy to the slightest of changes.

Winter, my fourth favorite season, was milder than predicted. Still, when spring approached earlier than usual, my energy level soared. My mind began to race and reinvest more time in my gardens. My heart became overwhelmed with new and old possibilities. My thoughts became eased by the blatant and subtle alterations on the horizon. As daylight builds its reach, the day stretches my moods and increases my time communing with nature. Through three of the seasons you’ll find me lavishly immersed in Mother Nature’s missions and themes. Winter brings another dimension to nature’s presence, and my reaction to the escalation of dormancy and hibernation. I garden year round, but minimally in the depths of winter.

Since spring arrived in February with its measures and mysteries, I find myself spending a few hours daily puttering. Gardeners are much more aware than most about the way global warming effects our days and nights. As each green element surfaces, each tree sprouts, each leaf unfurls, hues enter the visual arena and life bursts with such enthusiasm for what can be. But the invasion this year of a new wild thing gives me pause. It seems to be everywhere in my gardens and it’s worrisome. As I do my spring clean-up, I am furiously removing this unwanted invader. It’s part of what we can expect with climate change.

In early April of last year I first noticed a medium-size tree clothed in buds. Within a few days that tree was dressed in the sweetly-petaled, star-like flowers, delicately swaying with the sun’s blessings. Magnolia Stellata is very different from other magnolias that strut larger flowers with wisps of pink running through the petals. Their early blooms and almost pure white petals –up to a dozen on each bloom–make them stand out for all to admire. They offer a light drama as winter recedes. [Click here to view my post from 11 April 2015.]

After decades and decades of gardening last year emphasized how many spring trees produce their flowers prior to leafing out: forsythia, fruit trees, and many others. The sighting of the Magnolia Stellata raises one’s awareness of this phenomenon where flowers are first on the stage and foliage follows. The explanation revolves around the heat needed for these deciduous plants to bloom: both flower and leaf.

Last week that bewitching Magnolia Stellata already was fully dressed in flowers. How had I missed the bud stage? Its delicate star-like flowers were feeling rather smug in that magnetic state of glory.

In the Lens section are two versions of one of those flowers, one of few that had not fully blossomed. Within a few days most of the flowers were spent, and before long the tree will be in full greenery, thanks to an early spring awakening.

Tip of the Week:

I am a fan, I feel lifted and provoked (in a good way) by his art. During and after his life Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) was a controversial and larger-than-life figure. His work gave illumination to the tradition of black-and-white photography. Through his lens each photograph envisioned a sensual world, mirroring his own view of beauty. The character and elements of monochrome, which he used, were made livelier through his interpretation of a subject. His photographs are technically gorgeous.

While he is known for his  portfolio of flowers, he also is well-known for portraiture that did offend some viewers. This past week two exhibitions opened in Los Angeles, California, to honor his legacy. Here is a description of those shows from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s website:

“Robert Mapplethorpe is among the most influential visual artists of the late twentieth century. This major retrospective exhibition reexamines the arc of his photographic work from its humble beginnings in the early 1970s to the culture wars of the 1990s. Featuring portraits, nudes, still lifes, and the controversial X Portfolio, the exhibition explores Mapplethorpe’s studio practice and the creation of his foundation, which has shepherded his legacy into the 21st century. Drawn from the landmark acquisition from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, two complementary presentations, one at the J. Paul Getty Museum and another at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, highlight different aspects of the artist’s complex oeuvre.” Additionally, his work will be seen this year or next in Norway, England, Canada, and Australia. To read more about his life, go to the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. Click here.

To appreciate Mapplethorpe as an artist is to understand how the narrative of creativity and image-maker coincide and influence the push and pull of the process and result. He visually produced a world whose boundaries of the frame did not inhibit his artistry or vision. Mapplethorpe’s work initiates discussions and questions about important works of art as they relate to our humanity: what is beauty, what is art, what is aesthetics, what is an artist, how to describe an artwork, is art necessary to the human condition, what is the value of art, how does art influence society, how does society influence art, and many, many more. Mapplethorpe’s photographs are very much relevant in today’s cultural and social environments, and his legacy will continue to make statements that raise issues about the world in which we live.

Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1979; © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Patti Smith by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1979; © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

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 Black-and-White Photography, Macro Photography, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Early Spring Awakening)

  1. Nato says:

    I think I prefer the first since I can see more of the stem visible. But doesn’t mean I don’t like the mysterious shadows of the second:) That photographer sounds very interesting; I will have to check that link out.

  2. Today being Easter, your statement that “Yesterday was the dawn of this year’s spring season” caught my attention. Our native English words east and Easter go back to an Indo-European root that meant ‘dawn’. East is the direction in which we see the dawn, and Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring the goddess of the dawn. Just as dawn marks the beginning of each day, the advent of spring marks the beginning of the new year.

  3. Tina Schell says:

    We too had a very warm winter this year, and an early spring. Hoping that doesn’t translate to a brutal summer. Prefer your first, and am a huge fan of magnolias.

  4. I especially love your first image, Sally. This weather is definitely not what I’m used to. One day it’s 70 and by bedtime it’s 35. I’m surprised we have any plants coming up. But we do and I’m excited to see what we have!

  5. Su Leslie says:

    One of the things I so enjoy about your work Sally is that you can offer two such different interpretations of an image and each evokes an emotional response. I won’t offer a preference this week; suffice to say I was moved by both.

  6. thirdeyemom says:

    What a beautiful magnolia Sally! Yes Spring has come here at least a month and a half early which is very strange but it does feel good.

  7. restlessjo says:

    I always learn a little something when I come here, Sally. 🙂 I think I prefer the softness of your first composition to the drama of the second. Hope the Easter weather is good and you can putter a little more. 🙂

  8. Maria F. says:

    Both of them have a beauty of their own Sally. What nice light too.

  9. I love the clarity of the first photograph. The flower looks so delicate and fragile, yet so beautiful.

    Here I am this week, Sally:

  10. Suzanne says:

    How delightful. Image 1 really does it for me.

  11. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like both of your images today, but the second one seems to reach through Time and touch me. Well done, Sally.

  12. LavendarLadi says:

    I love the first one for it’s softness and lean towards it being my favourite but the texture of the second one makes me second guess my choice.

  13. Lovely Sally. I love the first one. I love the softness and how delicate it is.

  14. Hi Sally, I love the structure of the first, although the second also speaks to me. I loved these photos. Extremely elegant.
    I thought about your knowledge about gardening and skilled eye for global warming signals, when my orchids sprouted back in January, only to never open and dry out slowly.

  15. That Magnolia is my favorite. I call it a butterfly because of the way the petals fluter as you described. Photo I prefer is 2 because the way it fills the page almost bursting forth out of the confines of the paper. It speaks of spring.
    Happy First Monday of Spring!

  16. I. Greenwald says:

    As it looks on your blog page I like # 2 because of the contrast, but when I clicked to enlarge each I decided on #1 because of the deltail that it showed.

  17. Oh Sally, you must give Instagram a try. With your beautiful iPhone photos, it will be a cinch for you.

    • Laurie, thank you for your encouragement. I’ll just have to decide one day to jump into the world of Instagram. Any additional words of advice about your initial experiences, and what to be watch. Any concerns? Thanks again.

  18. Amy says:

    I like the texture of the first one. Both are beautiful! 🙂

  19. A good, spring morning to you Sally. Spring seems almost ready to pop here, at least for the daffodils, which are almost ready. In the park, the grass verges are green and there are green buds on some of the bushes. Heavenly!

    I like your first shot, because I like the delicacy of less stark contrast and being able to see the fuzziness of the bottom of the bud.

    Have a wonderful week!


  20. Both are lovely but I prefer the contrasts of #2.

  21. elisa ruland says:

    Gorgeous, Sally, and happy spring to you! I love the composition of the first shot, it is perfect.

  22. pattimoed says:

    Hi Sally. Good morning! I love your first image. The details and textures are marvelous. I’ve read Patti Smith’s autobiography, featuring her relationship with Mapplethorpe. Their time together at the Chelsea Hotel is so vivid and does document a remarkable artistic collaboration. Thanks for your inspiring images of spring. It is coming…even though we have snow and sleet coming here this week. 😦

  23. says:

    Sweet furry enclothed number one !!! I’ve loved Mapplethorpe for years ! Have a great week !

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