Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in an Age of Uncertainty – No. 50 (Abstract Series # One, Leaf Collage)

16 July 2018


Abstraction in Nature Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstract Leaf Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto image to enlarge. Let me know your response to this collage. Prints are available upon request.


Photography can capture what we often miss as we gaze at nature’s progeny. Elements of genius and innovation abound in the natural world. An example is artistic and often abstract qualities, qualities that stir the imagination.

It’s not new for photographers to use their lens to capture the abstract, to show its phenomenal non-objective representation of what resides within the frame or beyond. It’s a subject that has been documented for as long as the camera has existed. The amorphous is found in sway or calm of water, ever-moving and mysterious sky, waves or silence of meadows, close-up of a butterfly’s wing, designs and patterns in feathers and fur—really throughout the entire natural world.

While Mother nature’s designs mirror the real and the imagined, I found myself steeped in how she carves shapes and impressions, which conjures twists of what we perceive as objective and subjective and non-objective.

When one has an intention to create a concept such as an abstraction, it can take many experiments as well as a thoughtful approach. And there is always the lessons revealed by the act and process of flow: allowing oneself to be in the moment and experience it rather than create a plan, which is my preferred modus operandi. Get an idea and let it fly with its own velocity.

And so I went on a search during the midday, intense light to watch its effects upon summer’s bounty. I felt the challenge of serendipitous discovery even in the face of the harsh sun. But large elephant leaves became the perfect canvas for the abstract. They were the foil for my hopes.

In the Lens section are the results of this mental and physical journey, taken in the heat of a summery day and producing a treasure trove of light to bathe through my discovery: the razor-thin mammoth leaves. Their emerald skins danced in the gentle breeze, defying  girth and length. They flapped in the breeze and caught beams of lights, reminding me of fans cooling the air as they moved back and forth and curled in the scope of their size.

I was compelled to show the way the light created formless shapes and contrast of simple colors, uniting what we think we know with the unknown. The abstract became and is a stellar teacher of what is often right in front of us to discover.


Sometimes an article, which focuses on the tangible and intangible elements about the gardening life, will bring a calm and clarity. It says what I feel, yet articulates it differently than I would. But its meaning parallels mine in small and larger ways.

Huma Yasin wrote such an essay, “I’ll Be Out in the Garden, De-Stressing,” that appeared in The New York Times last Thursday. Here is a quote and a link to the entire article.

“We watch over our garden, hoping for the best. There are no guarantees. A freeze or drought arrives and the harvest suffers. This year, the heat and lack of rain have significantly affected our yield. Yet even when everything seems to have gone wrong, the harvest is plentiful. The same is true for the human experience. There are phases of life when despite our best efforts, everything seems to go awry. And then there are times when even in the absence of any exertion, things fall into place.”



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16 Responses to Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in an Age of Uncertainty – No. 50 (Abstract Series # One, Leaf Collage)

  1. Tina Schell says:

    Love the concluding quote on this one Sally, and the bright liveliness of the greens.

  2. I really like this triptych of lit up leaves. Opens up for the mind to play with the elements. Beautiful as ever, Sally.

  3. I love how you’ve captured the dark and light shades and how they mingle to create new images for the imagination! I also really like the quote about gardening. Although I think it can be expanded to encompass life in general! 😻

  4. I needed to read that last paragraph!! Beautiful light and the silhouettes on the leaf!!

  5. DG MARYOGA says:

    Superb biomorphic abstraction with salient elements of creativity evolving in the same way as nature, Sally. Enthralled by the contrast between the fluorescent greens and the harsh shadows.

  6. pattimoed says:

    Beautiful abstract, Sally. I love that vibrant green and the intense light. The quote from the NYT is great too. It is very wise. Hope you have some cool breezes coming your way!

  7. I like the peek-a-boo aspect of the last image, Sally. Lovely shades of green in all three.

  8. Lignum Draco says:

    Lovely artistic work, Sally. Abstractions are everywhere. We just need to see them, or perhaps not see them, to appreciate them..

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