Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (a Few Beach Scenes from my Travels)

02 May 2016


Ocean Beach; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Ocean Beach, San Francisco, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Stinson Beach; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Stinson Beach, San Francisco, California; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

China Beach; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

China Beach, San Francisco, California; 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.


Most of my days have found me perched on the East Coast, USA, even though a good slice of my spirit is elsewhere–the West Coast. I have spent considerable time there, even living in Southern California for (what I call) my mini-sabbatical. At various intervals people hear me echo these words: “If we had relocated to Northern California, we’d still be there.” And so my inner compass needs to be renewed with travel to that coastline, which offers a spring-like rejuvenation with an additional incentive of family and friends. And what better time to fulfill my wanderlust for its gifts than in SPRING.

I’ve been in re-entry only a few days. It’s soothed by hours in the garden and long walks in nature. In my absence my little haven has burst forth with gusto: large boughs of wisteria waft melodic perfume that eases into crevices of far away corners, Queen of the Night tulips are in their final phase of performance, hostas are perky and moving upward with grace, native grasses are beginning to show their shoots, columbine is readying its blooms for the arrival of hummingbirds, coneflowers are heading skyward for the goldfinches, most trees have bloomed and are shedding scores of pollen, arugula and dill (that self-seeded from last year) is almost worthy of placing in a salad…Oh, and many, many wild things are beckoning my care and cultivation and even removal.

These visuals distract me, keep me focused, as I diligently work in many spaces on my almost half-acre. Gardening is a lifelong love, and part of my spiritual journey. It provides a sanctuary throughout my adult meanderings.

When you live in the Mid-Atlantic of the East Coast for the majority of your life, you are bred on beaches that are flat from the edge of the dunes to the Atlantic’s calm or fury. My first visit to the West Coast was in my 30s, and it astounded and riveting my sensibilities. Visually, the two coasts are just as far apart in appeal and sometimes appearance as the miles between them. Still, both have much to offer. But every time I move my body and mind to the West Coast’s majestic landscapes and views, I am brought to a very different internal place—a place of such majesty and omnipotence that it staggers me for days and weeks. This love affair has lasted for many, many decades and seem to grow stronger and stronger.

The trajectory of my holiday was cradled and embraced by pristine weather and glorious adventures–adventures that met and exceeded my intentions. Some of those small and larger triumphs were solo or joint efforts. Each brought glorious waves of fulfillment and satiation. It was that kind of trip.

Vistas can define an experience, giving a wealth of spiritual and visual rewards. Often I discover that a single element can give meaning and significance. Such was the moment at Ocean Beach as my eyes moved to the distant fog stretching from boulders to the Pacific Ocean (image 1). That covering of afternoon heavy mist made time hold back its progress. The lyrical definition of the scene held me tight. The beach behind was scattered with stones of various sizes and colors and weathering. Slowly, I hand-selected a few as mementoes–mementoes of the surf’s offerings: grey stones with white striations, reddish stones, and a black one.

Each beach visited had its own character. From dunes and vegetation to boulders and rock formations, the sand and surf’s signature fixated in my memories. The second image was taken on Stinson Beach where that day the Pacific beckoned beach lovers for a sunny excursion. This image symbolizes what life at the seashore gives the human animal: time for play, time for contemplation, time to schmooze, time to appreciate Mother Nature, time to relax, time to just be.

The last image was taken at China Beach where you can marvel at the confluence of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Presidio, the San Francisco Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. It’s also a historic cove where Chinese fishermen used it as a campsite post-Gold Rush. It exemplifies the rich and deeply-felt events that have transpired around Golden Gate Park.

There is a sense of wild that comes with outdoor experiences in the West that are not quite realized in the East. That’s not to say visual epiphanies do not happen on the coastline where I live; of course, they do. But for me the Southwest and West have always sparked a spiritual renewal and experience that has never been matched on the East Coast or other nearby regions.

The West Coast exerts its charm and influence, and I succumb to its grandeur, unique character and splendor. Each pilgrimage builds my inner spirit, and gives me profoundly inspirational memories.

Tip of the Week:

Human animals are very much oriented by their personal philosophy and sensibilities. Most of us combine these traits to maneuver our lives and discover meaning in our everyday journey. My own orientation is driven by visual interpretation of my small universe. This inner force is solidified daily, and doubly emphasized through my love of art and nature. During my recent trip to California, I was privileged to attend the current exhibition of the artist (French, 1867-1947) Pierre Bonnard’s work at the Legion of Honor, which is part of the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, along with the de Young. Bonnard’s art was instrumental in the movement from Impressionism to abstraction. The  exhibition, Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia, which features more than sixty of his works, shows his extraordinary love of nature. In my life and in this blog I have said that to view art is to bring into my life immeasurable and invaluable gems, gifts and treasures. To see through a work of art as other see is a critical and instrumental way to turn one’s world upside down and sideways and even backward and frontward. This exhibition filled me with emotions and heightened sensibilities and insights. His work is a tour de force that continues to affect my own aesthetics and view of the natural world. On the  Legion of Honor’s website, they call Bonnard one of the leading artists in the modernist movement. If you are unfamiliar with his art and life, please view his work here (museum’s website). If you are familiar with him, it will be a treat to revisit his work online. If you are as fortunate as I and can visit the museum, the exhibition is open until 15 May 2016. I encourage you to take the trip.

My sensibilities are manipulated by the way I see the world–my individual lens that steers my days through aesthetics, emotion, passion, perception, visual reaction, and internal appraisal. To see Bonnard’s work up close is to fortify what an in-person experience can provide, giving me pause to interpret my personal journey anew.

"View of Le Cannet," 1927, Pierre Bonnard

“View of Le Cannet,” 1927, Pierre Bonnard

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 Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Traveling and Travels, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Nature (a Few Beach Scenes from my Travels)

  1. Maria F. says:

    Post work with these is very nice.

  2. I’ll go with the first photo as my favourite, Sally. But these are all fabulous scenes. 🙂

  3. Beautiful Sally and I love having beaches close by where I live also. I haven’t spent time on the East Coast but like you. I do love the West Coast from California up to Alaska!!

  4. The middle one is my favourite…(though, love them all) I really like how the touches of blues among the people on the left, and the blue umbrella connects, with the amazing vast blue sky! All of them (including your wonderful writing) have a strong sense of place and atmosphere. Particularly fond of Bonnard’s work – thanks for the link. 🙂

  5. What a grand vacation. We’ve been to San Francisco once but that was about 28 years ago! We traveled south along the coast. It was quite memorable! I enjoyed all three photos but your first one of Ocean Beach is my favorite. I love how the people are silhouetted in the distance and the footprints in the sand just leads you right to them. I love the hazy look and the bright blue of the ocean. Aw, heck, I just love the whole pic! 😆

  6. Visiting San Francisco and its surrounding area about twice a year and being familiar with all three beaches, I am partial to Stinson Beach. However, I like your photo of China Beach a lot.

  7. I first saw California at the age of 22 when I spent 13 weeks in San Diego in a Peace Corps training program. A few years later I had an offer to teach in the public schools there, and I’ve often wondered how differently my life would have turned out if I’d accepted that offer.

    • Steve, oh, thanks for sharing a slice of your back story. Yes, each of us have moments that could have turned the trajectory of our lives in a different direction. When I think about what if, that would not include many who are in my life now, and experiences that I would not trade. I’m glad to be where I am. Austin is a good place to have spend your days and nights.

  8. Su Leslie says:

    Glorious images. I cannot choose a favourite. All are welcome to me as my little part of the world embraces autumn. The beach, any beach, is always both soothing and uplifting to me. Thanks Sally. I’m glad you enjoyed your West Coast adventures.

  9. lumar1298 says:

    I love the pictures… Beautiful interpretation of nature… I’ll be on vacation some time in August in Crescent City Beach, CA. Can’t wait…

  10. badfish says:

    I like the vision of the first photo, I like the dark blue sky of the second, and I love that rock in the third. And I love this line: “Human animals are very much oriented by their personal philosophy and sensibilities.”

  11. Prior-01 says:

    My fav image is stinson beach (#2) – one reason – all that blue that came thru – so vibrant.

  12. Prior-01 says:

    Such a beautiful post Sally – and the welcoming of spring was so joyfully captured with your words. We lived in Northern Cal for a short time (about one year) and it really is a special place. Beautiful. However, too far from family for us – and so we are east coast folks for that reason – and we do like the east coast – but the best beaches are west coast….

    • That’s a coincidence, because that’s similar to my experience of decades ago. But we had moved to Southern California, and we were pulled back to the East Coast. Still, as I said, if we had been in Northern California, the forces may have been stronger to keep us there. Thanks so much.

  13. Indira says:

    Beautiful photographs Sally. I loved all. Sea from any angle and anywhere looks magnificent.

  14. It looks like you had a great time on the West Coast. But then, as you point out it’s quite a place. I like all three photos you showcase this time, but my favourite is the last one. I like the softness, the composition and the colours. 🙂

  15. Virginia Duran says:

    Loved the Ocean Beach because it has so much depth. Missing San Francisco right now, it looks like a very sunny day 🙂

  16. Thanks for the outside view of my everyday world. It is rare to see the sky so clear at Ocean beach, fog is king around there.
    I’m getting my ticket now for the Exhibit.

  17. Lovely to see you back. Love your photos this week.

  18. Amanda Lyle says:

    They all look great, but the last one is my favourite!

  19. Amy says:

    These photos are like beautiful paintings. Thank you for sharing your travel experience. 🙂

  20. Luv the second one!

  21. pattimoed says:

    Hi Sally. Welcome back! Your beach photos are wonderful. I can’t choose just one. I also love Bonnard’s work. It looks like a great exhibit. We also came back from a beach vacation last week. It was heavenly! So glad you got to “reconnect” with your West Coast friends and relax there.

  22. Tish Farrell says:

    “My sensibilities are manipulated by the way I see the world– my individual lens that steers my days through aesthetics, emotion, passion, perception, visual reaction, and internal appraisal.” I echo your words here 100%, Sally. Also lovely to have the Bonnard inclusion, and to hear of the return to the vibrant embrace of your garden. As to the photos, I by far love the airy expansiveness of the first one, althought the mysterious looks of the rock in the third pic are rather beguiling.

    • Wish, yes, it’s gardening time. Still waiting for the return of hummingbirds, and my garden is ready for their dining. Happy gardening. I am grateful for your lovely response to my photographs and words.

  23. Nato says:

    My favorite is the last shot with the huge rock. It has this mysterious look to it that draws me in, really quite magical. I can totally relate to how you feel more connected to one place and can embrace the wonder of all the nature as you see it. Not all people can unfortunately. The artist looks quite interesting! I went to the link and flipped through some work: impressive indeed.

    • Nato, you are a traveler, and it does give one pause to see such wonder. Thanks so much.

      • Nato says:

        I am, though I do love my homesteading times quite well. Perhaps because I travel, I enjoy my home even more? Either way, I can appreciate both quite easily. I think you inspired me to write about my garden I am creating.

      • Nato, do share your experience. Hope that you use native plants that will adjust more to our erratic temps. Additionally, native plants are suited to the region and have many benefits for wildlife.

  24. elisa ruland says:

    Hi Sally, your photographs are fabulous. I recently returned from the Santa Barbara area and spent lots of time on the surrounding beaches. My photos were not so fabulous…beach scenes can be tough to capture. I like all three of your examples, but the first is truly lovely. Have a great week, Sally.

  25. Welcome home, Sally. You’ve been missed but I’m so glad you had a soul-refreshing time in California. First to the photos. I love the depth of the first one and the third is very attractive to me as well. Second, I completely understand your second-to-the-last paragraph about the West and Southwest. Although I’m happy in the Midwest and that’s where I grew up, when I get out west, especially to the mountains, those in Wyoming being nearest and dearest to my heart, I feel like a puzzle that has one piece missing and then it’s found and inserted. The picture is beautiful even without that piece, but just incomplete.


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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s