Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (and Visualization)

19 September 2016


I. Taken with Camera+ and edited in Snapseed:

1. Black-and-White Abstraction; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

1. Black-and-White Architectural Abstraction; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

II. Taken with Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr:

2. Black-and-White Abstraction Photomontage; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

2. Black-and-White Architectural Abstraction Photomontage; Copyright © 2016 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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


Recently, I watched a video with Ansel Adams, the legendary master of black-and-white photography. The turning point in the execution of his art was the discovery of a process that he called visualization–a process that changed the course of his photography and life.

As Adams explained his idea, I realized that over the last few years most of my work emanates from a similar place…that interior space. It is the place where an instinctual force weds with the internal eye to create the image before it is taken: the precise idea that Adams’s advocated and taught. This reliance on the inner senses has become more and more a drive in my own photography.

As an example I selected the photograph in the Lens section. I took it in 2014, a time when this kind of seeing was becoming more and more apparent to me. While I might be able to envision the subject through my own inner lens, the reality is not always as it would seem.

Statistically, I cannot even state the number of images that I forecast, as opposed to the ones that actually are realized as equivalent to my internal vision. Regardless, the architectural abstraction was exactly as I imagined it. I knew that it had to be converted to black and white, that the light hit the building in just the right angle and place, that it sang with a cadence and rhythm. It was the confluence of a vision between the scene and me. The image became fully actualized in the instant of the seeing and reality in print.

The second image is a photomontage that came to mind as I revisited the image this week. I could see nature wrapped around the graphic lines and shapes. The architectural abstraction became a nod to Mother Nature, a consistent theme in my work.

Visualization is a legacy that has remained a force in the practice and teaching of photography. It’s worthy of the attention that it gets.

Tip of the Week:

Here are a few quotes by Ansel Adams. His poignant words are followed by a link to a YouTube video where he explains his philosophy of visualization.

“In my mind’s eye, I visualize how a particular… sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.”

“…one sees differently with color photography than black-and-white… in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used.”

“We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.”

“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces.”

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.”

“A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.”

Click here to watch the short film (5:45 minutes) where Adams discusses his theory, which is a way of seeing with the mind’s eye and applying it to the external subject. I suggest that you skip the ad, and click onto the red-orange box to see the updated version.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park by Ansel Adams

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

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

38 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Black and White (and Visualization)

  1. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful essay. I got a lot out of it and realised I need to practice more visualisation in my photos. To imagine the image I am photographing as black and white is something that often defeats me.

  2. Maria F. says:

    The 2nd has intriguing elements but both are nice.

  3. Tina Schell says:

    I liked the shape of the triangular shadow in your first shot Sally, and agree with you and Ansel that the best captures are those that we see first in our mind’s eye.

  4. prior.. says:

    I like that quote about the photo being looked at vs looked into (a good thinker one…)
    and I like the first image more – the cleaner feel without the shadows – and I think B & w was a great choice….

  5. I prefer the first photo as I think the shadows are distracting in the second. The first is crisp.

  6. Gallivanta says:

    The second photo is my favourite this time. I love the little touch of nature. I do visualize how I want some of my photos to turn out. Other times I click and hope for the best. 😦 And I have been working on trying to visualize the way I want my videos to be. It’s a work in progress.

  7. thirdeyemom says:

    Beautiful Sally! I feel like I am always rushing around lately that I never have a spare moment to stop and contemplate things. I love the beauty of both photos but really like the shadow of the branches in the second image.

  8. love #2, the design of light and shadow is lovely.

  9. Su Leslie says:

    I love that you have created two quite different images from the same original shot. The first is stark and bold; the second has a delicacy that is quite magical.

  10. I love the bold use of light and shadows, and the strong geometric shapes you have embraced in these photos. The first one is even stronger contrast than the second one and thus emphasizing the geometric shapes even more. The second I love for the play between the same geometric shapes and the more organic shadow of a tree. And, yes, good old Ansel Adams…

  11. I love the clean lines of the first one, Sally. Well done! My brother introduced me to Ansel Adams’ work a number of years ago. Love it! 🙂

  12. I’m looking forward to watching the Ansel Adams video.

  13. The first photo is very dramatic and stark. Your edit in Pixlr really adds some mystery to it. Leading the eye to the fence in the background.

  14. I love the sharp lines in the first, but the mood the second creates is really special.

  15. phoartetry says:

    In photo one, less is really more, without the distractions element in photo two, for me, one’s eye is drawn better to the lines and values of the architectural abstraction in photo one.

    Sally as usually your blogs are interesting an informative. Thank you for sharing, very much appreciated.

    I watched Ansel Adams documentary film 2002, absolutely amazing.


  16. Amy says:

    I like the result of the edit! Well done, Sally. Thanks for sharing the quotes.

  17. Allan G. Smorra says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post today. I got a lot out of the video and your background story on Ansel Adams. Back in the ’80s—’90s I worked on tenant-improvement work and one of our clients had a couple dozen signed Ansel Adams 8×10 framed photos lining the walls of a hallway. When Adams was first starting out he was selling them for $1.50 on Market St to pay his bills.

    Back to you, I like the stark simplicity of your first photo. I don’t consider myself an all-or-nothing- person, but the contrast of the shape and color of the black and white areas appeals to me.

    • Allan, enjoyed your story. It would be such an honor to have Adams’ work in my home. I have a few of his earlier books and postcards. But I do have a photograph by Edward Curtis, which is quite inspirational. Thank you so much for your response to the image. Enjoy your week.

  18. Ansel Adam’s work was amazing. Thanks for sharing his quotes and your thoughts with which I concur heartily. I definitely like the second shot the best, because of the added “shadows” which give a less stark, more interesting (to me) feel. Enjoy your week and may it be filled with many wonderful photo ops.


    • Janet, Adams left more than his work as a legacy. He was devoted to teaching others, and today that legacy remains at Yosemite National Park where a gallery is devoted to his work and offers photography workshops. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

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