Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Photomontage (Ocean Beach, California)

24 October 2016


Taken with Camera+ and edited in Snapseed, iColorama and Pixlr

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

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

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


I stood observing a scene that had characteristics of early landscape paintings with its classic style and purity of subject. It’s late morning spring 2016 and the sky turned from  ominous to lightly cheerful at Ocean Beach, California. Although a teenager is obvious from my vantage point, he still seems invisible: head covered, face not available for my gaze, and partially hidden (from the opposite side) by the dunes. He’s reading and seemingly unaware of his surroundings. One of few on the beach he blends with a sort of  pastoral grace.

But the man standing on the dunes at the top of the frame and almost spying from above echoes my interpretation. He stares at the ocean below, listens to the sounds of the waves in the distance, watches other beach visitors scattered below.

All the while the sands of time reflect countless cloud-filled days. And stones salt-and- peppered everywhere are as though they prompt ideas, one by one. In this place and time there’s a dance between the human condition and Mother Nature’s repose. I extrapolate that the man is trying to connect to all that is before him.

My view melts into the quiet and quietly calm scene before me. There are small numbers of others meandering the beach, mostly heading in the other direction toward the heavy fog.

Nature is strong and fragile, mystical and real, renewable and dying, omnipresent and missing. It’s a scene that needed a brighter palette of hope. Thus I added another part of nature’s bounty to the layer upon the layer in the distance and the tide moving inward, the solemn sky boasting in silence.

Nature is always on the move. The ocean, the shoreline, the waves, the wreck line are places that recall the past in the present. I sense others who have had similar views of this ever-changing landscape.

This combination of nature and human nature cruising before me reminds me that this moment masks a portion of reality. To be sure the coasts of my country are on a course of monumental alteration, and those changes will have lasting effects on human and natural habitats.

My photomontage was born from that grey morning, knowing that the sun would burn through the day and reveal a glorious light to brighten thoughts and move through this stretch of California coastline. Without doubt the beach and the ocean are primeval sanctuaries. They conjure birth, death and revitalization. They’re also places of contemplation where the future has enduring possibilities.

Tip of the Week:

Recently, I discovered the work of Spanish paper artist Malena Valcárcel. She rescues old books that have been thrown away or used, and then recycles them to make works of sculpture and jewelry. Her 3-D constructions are beautifully executed and bring new life to old printed materials. Used paper becomes a fantasy land with her imagination and skillful techniques. View her work here. Please enjoy this talented book artist’s creations.

"House on a Tree," by Malena Valcarcels

“House on a Tree,” book sculpture by Malena Valcarel

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 Digital Art, Human Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Photomontage (Ocean Beach, California)

  1. prior.. says:

    love the little slice of blue in the ocean montage
    and this was my fav line S

    “sands of time reflect countless cloud-filled days”

  2. Such as surrealistic photo and a great interpretation.

  3. Jane Lurie says:

    What an interesting interpretation, Sally. Love the rich colors.

  4. Maria F. says:

    Very surreal Sally

  5. You don’t have to excuse a bright palette, Sally. I am a fan of very vivid colour in art, but I have learned to tone it down for most people’s tastes. A late submission for your theme from me you will find posted today on my blog. Thanks for maintaining your great challenge!

  6. PS and your words are so full of meaning and poetry!

  7. Lonely and haunting and the colour adds to the memory feeling of this.

  8. lumar1298 says:

    I like the tones… I always enjoy changing the pictures.

  9. pattimoed says:

    Intriguing work, Sally. I love the mystery of the boy and the man. The story is wonderful here. One thought–I found the red image to be intrusive because it made the story harder to see. Is there a way to highlight the people instead? Thanks too for the link to Malena’s work. It’s amazing.

  10. restlessjo says:

    I’m in love with the tree house book 🙂 🙂 A friend of my daughter’s does something similar with old books, though not quite so elaborate. Joanne turns them into owls and teapots and things. I think I remember a bird in a cage. Very clever!

  11. Su Leslie says:

    I love this image Sally. It shows how photography can move effectively into new territory and help us re-imagine the world. It also reminds me of the work of a NZ painter who uses screen printing and very bold brush strokes. We own a couple of his paintings and they are much treasured.

  12. Like the story that goes with the picture. The colors are psychedelic and for us who were here at during that time you photo would have fit right in. But now it has grown up to have more meaning because of the people.
    Peace Out

  13. Amy says:

    This is a very unique image, Sally!

  14. badfish says:

    Sally, I really like where you’re heading with these montages. I still haven’t taken up the apps thing yet. But in my latest post (not posted yet) most of the photos are from my iPhone. I know it’s late, but I’ll link to your blog. And Valcarcel’s art is…no words?!!

    • As you continue to use your iPhone, you will discover its potential to tell your story (which you do so well in images and words). Please do link to my blog. The challenge’s photo community post throughout the week. They do not necessarily post on Monday, and I’m happy to have hitter participation within the week (as long as they link to me). And, yes, her talents are clearly artistic and technique combined. Happy travels…

  15. Sally, your photomontage feels to me like something from a space movie. I couldn’t see the man standing until I clicked on the photo. I like the way the petals leave the man and his little bit of the photo not red, as if we, as well as he, are peeking into a different area. As for Malena’s work, I’m too amazed to comment cogently!


  16. Great work Sally. It has such a desolate feel for me. The person is on his own, hiding from the world using his hoodie.

  17. smilecalm says:

    how creative!
    my phone isn’t
    so smart 🙂

  18. Angeline M says:

    Gorgeous montage, Sally; and your words meaningful and inspiring.

  19. Allan G. Smorra says:

    I like your photomontage and the backstory, Sally. Watching the advection fog at the mouth of the Golden Gate Strait or going out and working in it was one of my favorite things to do at the bridge.

    As a rule, we didn’t go up the cable in the fog, but a few times it was necessary to go up and rescue some stranded workers when the elevator in the tower stopped working. Walking into that wet cloud of mist dampened the sound of the automobiles below, eventually muffling it completely as I climbed up thru the layers.

    Many was the time that I stood on top of the towers, the top of the fog at my feet, the clear blue sky above, feeling like I was in a bowl of milk.

    Thanks for the memories and the splash of color for my day.

    • Oh Allan, what memories you hold dear from those days of caring for one of our national treasures. You have been one of the unsung heroes of a coveted landmark. Your treasure trove of experiences are themselves gems. Your description makes my heart sing. Fog conjures such a variety of reactions. But from your vantage point it must have felt almost as though you were one with nature. It’s marvelous to know you and learn about your experiences, which few have had. Thanks so much for your comment and response to my image and words.

  20. Very different capture this week, Sally. And what a unique upcycling artist you have linked us to. I can see why you have become fascinated with her work. It grabbed my attention too.

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