Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 25) – “Exposing the Soul of Nature” Photomontage

15 April 2019

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic. Edited in Snapseed, Stackables and Pixlr.

Exposing the Soul of Nature; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

Maybe it’s too bold to title my latest photomontage, “Exposing the Soul of Nature.” How could I possibly discover the inner spirit of Mother Nature? How could I possibly excavate the place where the entire universe blossoms into a source of living light? My immediate reaction to my image was that very space: the imagining of the very essence. To ponder the well that is the heart of our natural universe is to filter through the outer layers to reveal what is never, ever visible. Science can provide most answers, but still there are the mysteries and the yet-to-be discovered.

It’s my illusion, my imagination at the pulse of this abstraction. It could quite possibly be re-imagined tomorrow. And in doing so I carefully and with love put with reverence for nature in my treasure trove of the possible.

In the Lens section is the photomontage in question. After I had completed it, I immediately began to see the parts that make the whole. There are light and dark areas, the positive and negative spaces, the stripping of all that seems to embellish the branches of life. Two photographs–a willowy naked tree and a close-up of snow-covered rocks–create this one symbolic gesture. They combine to unveil an inner sanctum where chaos equals calm and quiet and vice versus, where the chaos equals the tangled mess of life.

The silence exposes nature’s spirit and soul, the very grandeur and omniscience that embraces us as we journey through life. The place where we settle our inner debts, where we come to understand our relationship to the whole.

Note:

Information is knowledge and power. No subject is exempt, and more than ever we need to be informed about global warming and climate change. The New York Times Magazine devoted yesterday’s issue to these serious and life-threatening issues. Earth Day is next week, and it is apt to celebrate and also be alarmed. The Times’ introduction to articles begins with four words as the solution to our planetary woes: “Stop burning greenhouse gases.” Articles range from “The Economist’s Dilemma” to “Hedging Against the Apocalypse” to “What Survival Looks Like After the Oceans Rise.” You can read one of the articles by clicking here.

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Posted in Abstraction, Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Traveling and Travels | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No.24) – The Greening of Spring

01 April 2019

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed, Stackables and Pixlr.

Greening of Spring Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Greening of Spring Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

As I drove home through a wildlife sanctuary, a single query kept me focused. When I see a scene does another person truly see what I do? When I see a tree from one direction, how does my mind fixate on its interpretation, and someone else spy a different configuration. Ultimately, how we analyze our visual universe becomes a matter of individual perception, and motivated by our communication through words. Images become language. Language as a human construct is how we navigate in and among our world.

The English art critic and author John Berger (1926-2017) introduced his influential ideas about our observations of the world in his ground-breaking book, Ways of Seeing (1972; I recommend the original book over the BBC series of the same title, which can be found on YouTube). His premise was that what is in our sights is observed before it is translated into words. This idea seems simple but it carried wide implications, and today continues to carry huge weight. Berger used art to explain his ideas, and it made for a perfect theme for his theory.

“But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.” ~~ John Berger

Each of us has a precise and even at times malleable point of view (based on nature vs. nurture, knowledge experience and…) that is reflected in our interpretation of the outer world. Within our unique character we edit how we see, include, exclude, respond.

Spring greatly influences the trajectory of my mind’s meanderings, and its appearance as slow, cantor or gallop seems to prove its power over me. During that journey into the countryside the forest was on the edge of fully awakening and wildflowers were scattered  in plain view and just waiting for approval. The excess of rain this winter has produced perky varieties and ones usually in hiding. Seeing becomes a joyous exploration.

Other more obvious signs of the season are the budding and leafing of early blooming trees. Each conjures small miracles that pervades the landscape and catches us in its visual grasp. That array of flowering and leaf unfolding is mesmerizing every spring; it has a fantastical essence, bringing exuberance just when the spirit needs a boost from winter’s grey ambiance.

In the Lens section is my attempt to create a composite that exemplifies what sparks my senses during the season’s arrival and progress. The photomontage expresses the grace of the branch of a hornbeam as it covets the blooming of spring’s greenery, giving hope in the promise. That welling of emotion that I feel comes from those hues that become emblematic of the season, awakening from hibernation and giving meaning to nature’s awe-inspiring bounty. In but a few weeks everything in view will startle and secure what we see; everything we see will force us to pay attention to the majesty of the earth and nature as master of the universe.

There is no better time to test our ways of seeing than during a change in seasons. each  season incites in me an improvisational seeing: soulful reaction to the gifts of a landscape tempered with memory, time and the present. I’m ready for the greening of spring and my heart.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Digital Art, Human Nature, Language, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 23) – Tree Series I, #4

25 March 2019

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Tree Series, Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Tree Series, Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

On one level nature is simplistic. The morning light blazes through our mind, and I awaken ready to search for incremental signs of spring. Slowly I stack each one to endear the arrival of the uplift. This week as I meandered on a grassy area where a tiny white flower became a beacon of discovery. It’s delicacy was only one spectacular characteristic. It amazed, and triggered a fresh breath of inner calm.

This diminutive floral surprise was simple and yet stunning: four snow-white petals and a golden center. It stood strong among a sea of  still dormant grass. I was so taken with its presence that all I could do was meditate on the moment. Then I quietly moved and pondered how it landed, and made that place its home; how this lone and unfamiliar wildflower appeared with such pluck on the day before Spring’s official start.

As the rain poured with loud energy, the wildflower  stayed in my thoughts for the next few days. In but a few years that one flower could become a meadow of white serenity, bringing waves of  purity just when hearts need soothing from winter’s grey notes.

Nature can appear as a simple entity or a complex field afresh with triumphant fuel for the wildlife and human visual consumption. But that the wildflower’s inner story is complexity personified: the stuff of botanical descriptions with the inner continuum of heredity and DNA.

And as Mother nature’s wand keeps appearing in the breeze of daily spring rain and winds, change brings more surprises, which can be reminders of year’s past, jewels yet to astonish, whether simple or complex. Each reveals a sunburst of gifts that can settle into the heartstrings and overwhelm the senses.

In the Lens section is a photomontage of two trees converted to a black-and-white image, expressing the raw layers of nature’s coexistence and interdependence. This composite story is my salute to how nature and human nature can and must be in syncopation with each other, dancing to the dark of night and light of day: the complexity in the forefront and simplicity in the background or vice versus.

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 22) – Hands of Life Series # One

18 March 2019

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Hands of Life Series; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Hands of Life Series; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

Since the beginning of human communication, hands worked their magic. Their mainstay became their utilitarian purpose. But as humanity evolved they became a critical source in silent visual communication. One hand can perform many gestures. Two hands can increase the interaction and speak without uttering one word. One hand can place itself over one’s heart. A hand can be clutched. Two hands multiply effects. There are limitless actions and gestures that place hands in a category that defy comparison. “On the other hand” expresses two contrasting views similar to what photography does in its journey through time and space. Photography often presents a literal point of view that may in fact be interpreted figuratively, and actually was created to have more than one meaning.

As these thoughts percolated, I imagined a new series that would convey the interaction and significance of the interdependence of nature and human nature. Much can be communicated through the quiet and loud proclamations of a hand’s stillness or movement. Much can be communicated by what is seen or unnoticed in the seeing.

In the Lens section is my first attempt at this visual storytelling: my hand holding a dried seedpod from a wisteria; the elegant pod speaks volumes about silence that can unleash vocal cadence and even havoc. Wisteria is one of Spring’s most beauteous and fragrant flowering vines. The open seedpod (with one seed remaining) represents a traveler across time whose life cycle spreads nature’s majesty. Wisteria symbolizes immortality and expanding consciousness, which matches my hope for Mother Earth: an evergreen existence.

For the last few decades I have been training wisteria wherever my journey takes me. In my current home, the wisteria (almost 20 years old) has been trained freeform, and its shape proclaims a Zen-like aesthetic. As it grows and becomes stronger and more robust, it evolved into a tree that exudes confidence.

This species needs constant attention; it’s aggressive growth means weekly pruning from spring to autumn. But that attention gives ample time to train it into the heart’s desire and nature’s meanderings. Creativity is boundless in this effort, and parallels the pleasures that a symbiotic relationship with nature provides.

The collage shows the power of Mother nature’s endurance, being able to withstand (momentarily) human interference. My hope is the tides will move with greater speed toward the coexistence that is needed to rescue our planet, our home.

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Collage, Digital Art, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No.21) – Black-and-White Still Life Photomontage

11 March 2019

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed, Stackables and Pixlr.

Black and White Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Black and White Photomontage; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

The pre-Spring light gives new breath to the landscape with graceful movement through angles and lines, contrasts and shadows. White spaces emphasize strength and resilience, and the black etches balance that flows as the day evolves.

To convert a photograph to black and white exposes what we see on the surface as opposed to the network of the unseen. There is a stripping away that allows less complexity and more simplicity to emerge.

In the Lens section three layers create an illusion that blends the human and natural. The black-and-white image is bathed in light, and seems exaggerated by even more beams of light. Color is unnecessary to narrate this Photomontage.

As this month proceeds, I welcome additional daylight as the sun repositions itself. Afternoons seem extended, opportunities beckon.

Winter seems almost forgotten, but that’s an illusion. Even with the week’s forecast in the 50s and 60s, the chill lingers in the shadows of history. Still, my thoughts are fueled by what the imagination can create and process over time.

The combination of human nature and Mother nature is limitless, giving me a never-ending array of creations and inventions. There is much to consider, as the muse encourages and plays with my senses and sensibilities. Nature is awakening and I’m a willing voyeur.

Spring illuminates the inherit need to honor and protect nature, and to have more faith in the ability of humanity to recognize our interdependence. Nature will always win; she is the quintessential master of the universe. We must cherish her part in our own existence.

Note:

Aperture is one of the most well-known magazines about photography. But it offers more that visuals; it also provides commentary that weaves the contemporary and historical. Each issue is theme-oriented and mesmerizes, taking me hours to absorb content and context. Aperture helps the reader discover what is current in the medium, and narrates these stories through image and text. There always is the unexpected, which builds the drama, intrigue and joy. There also is a special kind of pleasure as I hold the publication, and peruse its large-format pages. It’s a multi-dimensional online and offline magazine that offers “a growing digital publishing program, including e-books, apps and a daily blog as well as online features.” While I prefer the handheld edition, it’s worth the read and the time, even online.

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence: (No. 20) – Orchid Still Life II, Longwood Gardens

04 March 2019

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Stackables.

Orchid Still Life II, Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Orchid Still Life II, Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

While the calendar pronounces Spring’s arrival in a little more than three weeks, its easy for me to leap ahead and imagine the trajectory of kaleidoscopic changes in daylight and renewal. My seasonal purchase of seeds arrived weeks ago. They are perched where I can glance at them in the kitchen. All  I need to secure for the gardens are a few herbs, flowers and vegetables that I grow from plants. My “growing” method includes scattering seeds directly into their permanent place rather than starting them indoors. I find greater success having them have a permanent home.

After decades as a steward of the land, lessons multiply year by year. I do garden year round, never having more than a few days without tending the land in some small or larger way.

In the midst of winter’s fury the imagination begins to contemplate what will be maintained and what will be changed. Gardening is an evergreen process, never static. There is much to be done before the earth is ready for planting. And we’ve had an abundance of rain and occasional snow. The water table runneth over.

And part of me is still in hibernation mode. With the daylight growing I’m being pulled by inner and outer forces to begin daily chores in my gardens. It’s exhilarating on many levels, thrilling knowing that surprises always await.

In the Lens section is another example of a still life from Longwood Garden’s Annual Orchid Extravaganza. The conversion to black-and-white was realized as I envisioned what a black orchid would represent: simplicity and statuesque strength of purpose. The still life image was part of a large display of cultivated orchids that had a bonsai sensibility: trained for human visual consumption. And it was a blissful treat.

The thrill of Spring’s arrival keeps nudging and seducing my sensibilities. And until the warming of the air and drying of the earth I am content to dream and scheme about the birth of the season.

Note:

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson (2016) is a book that melts into thoughts of Spring. Hanson places the seed on a pedestal where it belongs. He is a field biologist with the heart of a storyteller and he does his subject justice. Those interested in the natural world and gardening will be entranced. Here are some comments about its content:

“The genius of Hanson’s fascinating, inspiring, and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves.” –Mark Kurlansky, New York Times Book Review

“This is a charming book, inspired by Hanson’s forays into seed identification and dispersal with his young, seed-obsessed son…. Hanson’s twist of looking at human interactions with plants in their embryonic stage is new…. The Triumph of Seeds will engender thoughtful consideration of our joint future.”
Nature

 

 

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 19) – Orchid Still Life, Longwood Gardens

25 February 2019

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Stackables.

Orchid Still Life, Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

Orchid Still Life, Longwood Gardens; Sally W. Donatello 2019 All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

Spring is on the edge of its appearance, and it seems to be accelerating faster toward its presence rather than away from it. Daffodils are inches high. Snowdrops are pushing skyward. And my spirit is on a better trajectory.

At last that “crack in the cosmic universe” has allowed beams of light to cascade across the universe landing in my small world, allowing another spark to radiate through me. The dark has been eased; the bounty of light stretches its harmony and abundance seems possible.

It’s been another warm winter with endless grey and rainy days. As the earth continues its dance, the sun rises higher and higher and daylight bathes through my gardens, beginning to awaken the gifts of Spring’s arrival.

In but a few weeks the visual landscape will be a continual array of metamorphosis, everyday rejuvenation will re-imagine the visual possibilities. It’s a seasonal shift from slumber to awakening. And my soul feels the burst of positive overshadowing the negative.

In the Lens section is my tribute to re-emergence. While at Longwood Gardens’ Annual Orchid Extravaganza a still life exhibit captivated my attention. Individuality was its strength with each scene a tiny vignette of these tropical wonders. The display in small cubicles reminded me of the artwork of Joseph Cornell (1903-1972)and his curious and inspired assemblage boxes.

While it may seem counterintuitive to convert luscious hues of orchids to black and white and then work at recreating my own vision of the still life, I did just that. Mostly, the conversion reminds me about seasonal change and the continual reinvention of the landscape by nature and human nature.

Note:

Worldark is a magazine published by Heifer International, which is an organization dedicated to end worldwide hunger and poverty. I have supported their work for decades. Their Spring 2019 issue had an article that focused on some beneficial aspects of trees that support human habitation of earth. Here are a few of the highlights from the article, “The Giving Tree.”

  1. An average-sized tree produces 260 pounds of oxygen per year, enough for two people.

2. There are 3 trillion number of trees in the world.

3. Cut utility bills, not trees: Trees on the west side of your house can block enough of the sun’s heat to save $25 on your air conditioning bill each year. Trees are also natural windbreakers and can therefore cut down your heating bills in the winter.

4. Here are two examples of health benefits: Exposure to trees and nature reduces mental fatigue and can reduce blood pressure and muscle tension. Having trees in yards and throughout neighborhoods can boost property values by up to 15%.

5. Since the onset of agriculture 12,000 years ago, the planet’s tree numbers declined by 46%.

6. Trees amazing qualities include their ability to: Emit airborne signals to alert other trees to prep for insect attacks, or to call in other species for backup. Some can produce chemicals to fend off leaf-eating insects.

If you want to learn more about the extraordinary work that Heifer International does throughout the world, view here.

 

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments