Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Experiment with Photomontage)

18 July 2016


Both photographs were taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

1. Hydrangea with Beam of Light; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Hydrangea Photomontage; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Hydrangea with Beam of Light; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Hydrangea Photomontage; 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.


Lately, I’ve had the urge to delve into photomontage, which I enjoyed during the analog days. Whether incorporating two photographs or more, the results (surprisingly) can be rewarding to the image maker and viewer.

My first experience was overlaying one image onto another and creating an intriguing otherworldly scene. The second experiment had five images and became a story of deep personal meaning. A feature of this method is a built-in continuum of possibilities that are difficult to realize with one image. Still, one does not want to make the final photograph too complex.

Questions arise. Will the viewer be able to discern the layers of introspection? Or even see the palette of time included? Why create multiple images that drift across the small frame? Does the final image become more aesthetically pleasing than the originals? Why not make a diptych or triptych? Do this technique make a better image? Does it matter?

I believe a worthy photograph must evoke (on some level) an emotional response: curiosity, joy, sadness, surprise, or…The history of the final image may be illusive, the image itself may be illusive, but the photograph must have an appeal in whatever visual arena it inhabits.

The photomontage acts almost as though it is a visual short story where the narrative skips back and forth across the frame. That energy and movement appeals to my aesthetic, which usually pushes the “simpler-is-better” philosophy.

In the Lens section are two images that are the result of my initial experimentation with this technique. The discovery of the app Pixlr boosted my enthusiasm, and a quick tutorial on YouTube gave me the confidence to dive into its features. Over the last few days I have created photomontages that consist of two to five photographs. Each surprisingly appealing, at least to me.

Photographs in the Lens section are made from two images that were taken months apart, and have no relationship to each other. But now they are inextricably bound together, creating a third narrative. It’s quite intriguing.

A few of the others were made with the sole purpose of combining photographs that had a relationship by subject or theme. The blend of several images build another story that now serves as a gateway for reinterpretation.

These experiments sent me back in time to my basement that served as my first darkroom. That space spirited miracles in small doses. To bring an image alive in the dark is beyond description. In that space time seemed to halt as I discovered a world of black and white–a world that is simulated (not replicated) in today’s digital darkroom.

Still, as an image maker I feel immense joy as I build a photomontage and reach the apex of my intentions or step into serendipity. This experimental phase tests my perceptions and understanding of how I see the world and record it. The experience gives me pause to consider the direction of my photography.

The creative process is a limitless exercise in self-expression, self-directedness, and aesthetics. It has no bounds, only possibilities to re-imagine, re-invent, re-create my individual way of seeing the journey called life.

Tip of the Week: The master photographer Robert Frank (b. 1924) is immortalized in a recently-released video called “Don’t Blink–Robert Frank” (runs an hour and 22 minutes). I’ve written about Frank’s contribution to the oeuvre of photographic history, and this post re-emphasizes how important his body of work continues to be. Frank has influenced and inspired scores of artists and non-artists. Now in his 90s he especially is known for his ground-breaking documentation of Americans–people who can be described as everyday folk. That was the 1950s, and the result was The Americans (1958). This book changed the trajectory of modern photography. That work continues and became his signature. He also developed a keen sense of the landscape that he first discovered driving across the United States, and visiting small and larger towns to record the nuances of American life that are found in The Americans. Later in his career he became know for his avant-garde films. To read a review about the video, click here. The film was released in theaters on 13 July 2016.

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 would like to buy a print of any of my photographs or have any questions, please view the Contact Information found on the masthead. Thank you.

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

46 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (Experiment with Photomontage)

  1. Maria F. says:

    Very graphic and creative!

  2. Madhu says:

    Great experiment Sally. Would love to try it out myself when I have more time. Think I prefer the first one.

  3. badfish says:

    Oh, a great post…because I have lately been thinking about composite photos. I used to create them in the darkroom by putting two negatives together (or two slides together). One was the photo, the other created a texture. I loved doing that. Couldn’t figure out how to do it with a digital camera. So…it’s Pixir is it?! Thanks…I’ll try to make time to give it a try.
    I think I like the second one better, they both work well. But the second one looks more…er…natural, or something more pleasing to the eye to me.

  4. I have always been fascinated by montages and these two images makes me very curious. It’s almost a seamless montage—very interesting. My favourite is the first one with its background of a wider tonal range. As to Robert Frank, I have only one word: Yes!

  5. for me the second one has a mystery and the beam of light gives it a mystical quality. But the first is beautiful too.

  6. restlessjo says:

    All a little over my head, Sally. I can really only tell you what I like and for me that’s the first. 🙂 Have a happy week, hon!

  7. Nato says:

    I think the second stands out to me more, or should I say appeals to me more. Why? Perhaps because of the contrast and line? Yeah, I think that is it. I love the idea of blending photos and creating photomontages. I love your creativity and endless ideas!

  8. Jane Lurie says:

    Interesting and creative montages, Sally. The second hit me immediately with its striking ray of light, however on further inspection, the first has subtle qualities that draw me in with the split tones in the image. Big fan of Robert Frank and have seen the Americans in exhibition. Wonderful.

  9. Angeline M says:

    At first I thought I was sold on the first photo, but upon reading your words and re-looking at each photo, I think I like the clearer image of the second, and the dark background also seems to give it more life. The ray of light in the second photo did look devisive at first, but becomes a real part of the photo upon study.
    And thanks again for the video tip, I’ll be all over that.

  10. Su Leslie says:

    They are both really interesting images Sally, but I’m going to join the chorus in favour of the first. I think Christine has summed up my feelings exactly.

  11. Amy says:

    Well done, Sally! Coincidentally, I was watching an online tutorial last week. A wonderful endeavor. 🙂

  12. I really like both of these, Sally, and thanks for introducing me to another technique I’ve never tried. I think I already have the app, but have never used it. I can’t really add any better comments than the ones already made, so I won’t try. But you did a wonderful job with these.


  13. I love how the montages add some mystery to the images. I was just reading about Ansel Adams and his processing. He would take up to 20 hours per image. I was like that in the dark room too. I went through so much paper and chemicals. Now it is so easy – a click to add something, or a click to remove the edit. Pixlr is wonderful and just so much fun

  14. Luanne says:

    #1 is my favorite because the “origin” of the flower is clearer to me, and I feel comforted by that. Shows me I need a little “known” in my photos.

  15. I’m going to personify your images here. the first one is a pretty lady upon closer look I think of her as sneaky and cleaver while hiding in a corner
    The second bold with no apology for her duplicity!
    They need each other.
    Thanks for the essay on Robert Frank he is often lurking in the corners when I create B&W images.
    Happy Monday

  16. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like both of your photos this week, Sally. You put a lot of work into the first image and the duotoned half is a nice touch. The second image is my favorite. The dramatic ray of light makes me feel like a door has opened and something is about to happen. The sense of anticipation that I feel is very strong.

  17. Lignum Draco says:

    An interesting photo technique which I’ve not tried before. This truly enters the realm of Art. The viewer tries to formulate their own story. At first glance I prefer the first.

  18. Helen C says:

    Good morning, Sally. I like the first one more. It softened my heart 🙂

  19. I find the idea of photomontage exciting – the possibilties! I prefer your first photo and it took me a lot of looking to decide. The ray of light in the second image seems devisive, and along with the sharpness of the dark triangle on the left, it felt disturbing. The first has a wonderful abstract look, and I like how the flowers in the light are a slightly different texture to the others. The ray of light is pleasing and the angling of the wall adds to the abstraction and a sense of something else that I can’t quite define. Thanks for making me think about what I shall offer for my B&W contribution!

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