Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 53): Climate Alarm Photomontage

06 January 2020


Climate Alarm Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2020 Sally W. Donatello

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


06 January 2020

This morning continued the dawning of the year—a year that may prove to surprise even the most cynical. As the weeks fill their destiny, I will be suggesting ways to soothe our journey.

Here is an example. Last week as I made my way north about forty minutes from my home, I searched TED Talks for a presentation, preferably about climate activism and climate justice. And behold, there I found the TEDx Countdown. Since that first introduction I’ve listened to it three times and joined their efforts.

Excerpted from ” TED and Future Stewards with Christiana Figures announced Countdown: a global collaboration to turn the tide on climate change. The name Countdown refers to the necessary reduction to zero net greenhouse gas emissions called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. A summit of 1,000 leaders and influencers – representing a cross-section of nations, businesses, cities, and citizens – will be held in Bergen, Norway from October 6-9, 2020. The following day – 10.10.2020 – will be celebrated as a major global gathering made up of thousands of connected local events in cities, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces around the globe—coordinated by the global TEDx community and other partners. Countdown content will be promoted by YouTube, and many YouTube creators will be invited to take part both in Bergen and at local events being held around the globe.”

Please view to read details about this collaboration and join the effort.

In the Lens section is a photomontage that reflects my feelings about this economic, environmental, social and political  crisis. It represents the intense and increasing threats imposed upon the planet by human inactions.

Candles come alive with fire, and fire can be a tool for survival or a tool for destruction. We are seeing the latter carve its way across global pathways.

Make a wish on these candles (sculpted by the wintry landscape) to stir the human spirit to put pressure on every nation, every government, every leader, each individual to get involved. And to realize that we can reverse the tides, we can avoid a dystopian future.


Posted in Climate Crisis, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 52): Shades of Climate Crisis and Hope is not Enough

30 December 2019


Shades of Climate Crisis Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

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


May Stevens (1959-2019) once said of her life as a painter and an activist: “The idea was to make your own life by taking action and going beyond ordinary existence. Just earning a living, not living a mental life, and not trying to change things was a life that was frightening to me. You become human only when you make this great struggle for realizing your life and making it count.”


My Ode to 2020:

Winter officially arrived a little over a week ago, yet the last few weeks have been unseasonable cold and grey. And as the days continue to lighten glacially, my mood fits that trajectory. Still, I cling to the optimist in me, knowing that each day leads to greater illumination.

Over the last few months I have been assessing and processing the intersection between my ideology, philosophy and photography. This process has led me to review my blog and its evolution of content over almost nine years (which astounds me). The journey has led to my own tipping point about this work—work that started with some direction, but escalated into a precise direction: to honor the interaction between nature and human nature.

As the New Year appears with its own cadence, an artist friend and I will meet frequently to experiment and encourage each other’s sense of seeing the world and affects upon our creative works. Inner and outer forces have brought me to this fork in the road.

In the Lens section is a biomorphic photomontage that solicits thoughts about the climate crisis and the worldwide alert that couldn’t be more alarming. My image shows a fragmented silhouette of multiple trees against the dark and some light in the background—a background that forecasts crisis.

We have a decade (give or take) to change this harrowing reality. Each of us can discover ways to steady our own emotional reaction by actions, doing something in our tiny teeny slice of the universe. In whatever way that “doing” translates, it can help us through the days and nights.

I have been aware for decades about living more sustainably and earth friendly, and I continue to do more. But the urgency mounts. My photography and writing are avenues to maneuver the minefields of this human-made crisis.

I keep anxiously waiting and asking: When will the course of the river’s flow change? When will the greater good of humanity and the planet outweigh the greed and power lust of my governmental officials and others around our spinning globe?

Time is ticking faster than I can breathe it inward. Its sound is louder than the silence. But we can do it; we can turn the corner toward healing the planet and ourselves.

Personal awareness through individual activism, community activism and worldwide activism are my dearest wishes for the world’s healthy rejuvenation and renewal. Hope is not enough; our actions and voices are the light in the Earth’s future.

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Climate Crisis, Digital Art, Human Nature, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 51) Bamboo Sculpture at Longwood Gardens

18 November 2019


Ikebana Bamboo Collage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

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


My days are made more bountiful when I can combine what allows me to be in a conscious state of bliss: combining art and nature. When they are paired, there is a symbiosis that magically and mystically acts for me as a meditative state. I am able to be with my surroundings and completely eliminate outside influences. It’s a state of flow and tranquility, almost contentment.

And that’s exactly where I found myself this past week: wrapped in a glorious exhibition at Longwood Gardens. The month-long display titled Blooms & Bamboo: Chrysanthemum and Ikebana Sogetsu Artistry, ended yesterday. Truly, it was one of the most extraordinary visual celebrations of art and nature. I was hypnotized by the manipulation and design that the created.

Here is a description from the Gardens website: “[The exhibition was] … designed for Longwood by Headmaster of Sogetsu Iemoto Akane Teshigahara of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. The traditional art of Japanese floral design, Ikebana serves as an expression of Japan’s deep connection with nature. Spanning more than 600 years of history, this art features hundreds of different Ikebana schools, each developing its own forms that depict the ideal of beauty and grace. One of the most modern of such schools, the Sogetsu School of Ikebana focuses on free expression and is based on the view that Ikebana is a way for human beings to express themselves. Teshigahara shares, ‘Although I have created bamboo installations in a variety of styles in Japan and around the world for more than 20 years, the two installations at Longwood will be the greatest and finest of all, both in terms of scale and bamboo-manipulation techniques.’ The display is rounded out with 23 Ikebana arrangements throughout the Conservatory, as well as a visionary sculpture created by the founder of the Sogetsu School. In support of Teshigahara’s designs, 635 pieces of 26-foot-long bamboo poles were delivered to Longwood last month, representing Japanese timber bamboo, or madake (Phyllostachys bambusoides), and Meyer’s bamboo (Phyllostachys meyeri) of 4-inch and 2.5-inch diameters, respectively. These massive poles of bamboo were harvested from a specialty nursery and landscaping company with well-established groves in Georgia.”

In the Lens section is a collage that captures some of the magnificence of Teshigahara’s masterpiece. I cannot express the emotion that washed over me as I stood in awe and amazement, observing from as many vantage points that were physically possible. As I circled the intricate shape, each location offered a different shape and more intrigue. The combination of the Japanese principles of flower arrangement and the use of bamboo created a work of short-lived enchantment; its existence was ephemeral and a month long. The installation will be removed over the next few weeks, and the bamboo recycled: a fitting circle of visibility to invisibility that will remain in my mind’s treasure trove of site-specific art.

The display exemplifies the ability to take a simple natural form and honor it through various uses of the material. Bamboo has been a mainstay for decades in my gardens, and its limitless applications make it my favorite for outdoor sculptures and supports.

Bamboo exudes a Japanese spirit and that quality was front and center in this exhibition. From the extreme height and width of the sculpture to the small surprises in the interior and external to the contemporary style, the work captivated and inspired. It also encouraged much contemplation.


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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 49) – Nature’s Colors Photomontage

04 November 2019


Nature’s Colors? Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

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


How long will Mother nature’s colors last?


“Honeyland” (2019, runs one and 29 minutes): the film has gotten rave reviews. This documentary records the delicate balance and interdependence between human nature and Mother nature. The theme crosses boundaries with covert and overt life lessons. It is one of the best documentary of the year, and most awarded at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Here is a description from Rotten Tomatoes:

“Nestled in an isolated mountain region deep within the Balkans, Hatidze Muratova lives with her ailing mother in a village without roads, electricity or running water. She’s the last in a long line of Macedonian wild beekeepers, eking out a living farming honey in small batches to be sold in the closest city — a mere four hours’ walk away. Hatidze’s peaceful existence is thrown into upheaval by the arrival of an itinerant family, with their roaring engines, seven rambunctious children and herd of cattle. Hatidze optimistically meets the promise of change with an open heart, offering up her affections, her brandy and her tried-and-true beekeeping advice.It doesn’t take long however, before Hussein, the itinerant family’s patriarch, senses opportunity and develops an interest in selling his own honey. Hussein has seven young mouths to feed and nowhere to graze his cattle, and he soon casts Hatidze’s advice aside in his hunt for profit. This causes a breach in the natural order that provokes a conflict with Hatidze that exposes the fundamental tension between nature and humanity, harmony and discord, exploitation and sustainability. Even as the family provides a much-needed respite from Hatidze’s isolation and loneliness, her very means of survival are threatened.”

I highly recommend it. It can be rented or bought on iTunes. If you watch it, let me know your reaction.

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 48) – A Symbol of Autumn, Collage of Leaves

28 October 2019


Autumn Leaves Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

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


We–the birds and I–love the rain, we love the saturation of the knee-deep dry earth, we love the promise of additional glory from the landscape, we love the emphasis on mood, we love the implication of hope.

Fortunately, yesterday I filled the bird feeders to the maximum. I watch as their feathers are lifted by the current intense rainfall and its fierce winds, the usual gangs are merrily dancing from suet feeders to seed feeders. The rain is not a deterrent.

These rains are desperately needed and I am joyous. Still, I just could not take myself to the Farmer’s Market. I felt as though the gusts would carry me to who knows where. The rain is sheeting, really pelting. How do the birds take it?

It’s a perfect day to withdraw into my usual Sunday rituals. And added to those mainstays are my mind experimentations with how my photography will align more with my current state of angst about the world’s dilemmas. There is an overwhelming amount to consider, ponder and synthesize.

I need to focus on a partnership between nature snd three broad but serious areas: climate change, conscious consumption and social justice. That’s the direction. Now I must do it. But how?

In the Lens section is a collage that represents the autumn season. Trees are spectacles during this metamorphosis from rainbow-like landscapes to gray tones. It’s a time that plays with the mind’s moods, and tries to prepare for much of the natural world to hibernate. Much can be said for slowing the senses and sensibilities as well as the mind and body. And I think the obvious that autumn is one of nature’s greatest lessons.


Margaret Renkl is an Opinion Columnist for The New York Times. Every article touches on her devotion, observations and passion for nature. She seems to write directly to me. I hope that you will read the article about the bird that stole my heart on first sighting decades ago. The hummingbird it truly one our most beloved of the natural world.

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

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 47) – See the Unseen

14 October 2019


Spring Tulip; All Rights Reserved Copyright 2019 Sally W. Donatello

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


Each of the four seasons unveils elements that spark deeply emotional action and reaction. Still, autumn has a substantial hold on introspection. There is an internal force that weaves its way through my days and nights, giving attention to the seen and unseen, the noticed and unnoticed. From the dancing foliage to spent summer florals to bare trees to decomposing plants to migrating birds to hibernation to shifting daylight: the changing earth’s axis nods for us to pay attention to the world outside ourselves. This is a gift of autumn’s melodies.

The expanse of change requires a deep inhale and eventual long exhale. I tuck inwardly to assess, and then charge outward.

As geese fly overhead for autumn feeding grounds, my heart races with momentary contentment. Their distant quest resonates with their determination—determination made possible by the physical world of our planet and solar system.

Autumn’s timetable brings staggering resilience to the forefront. My spirit soars with ideas even as it puts some to sleep.

Contemplation has become the centerfold of my thoughts. I’ve been pondering my collages and photomontages, images made with the underlining theme of coexistence with nature. Through these works I can show the omniscience and omnipresence of Mother Nature: how she influences much of human nature, even as many do not recognize that bond and connection.

Nature is my muse and passion. She allows me to be who I need to be. She allows me to mobilize some of my inner thoughts into outward representations.

I’ve decided to observe (spy) on myself, relegate the synapses through new expressions to focus on my advocacy and reverence for the natural world: a world that simultaneously slows me down and inspires acceleration.

I want to create images with a new found emphasis and urgency about the climate crisis, which already has been an underlining theme. But it’s a process to find my aesthetic voice in this quest.

Our voices must echo across our neighborhoods, towns, urban centers, states, countries. It is a global crisis, one every single living creature shares in its reality and dangerous effects.

In the Lens section is an image that evokes my theme. While we march forth every day to our own singular beat, each path is riddled with the unseen–the unseen that exposes the beauty and the chaos of our world. The exposure of the tulip’s center is a macro view of its hidden secrets.

On a planet that we have tried to tame (to our detriment and the planet’s), I work at building more and more habitats for the wild things in my corner of the universe. Maybe its time for the wild to be in charge again.

Posted in Digital Art, Macro Photography, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Nature Photography: Coexistence (No. 46) – Deconstructed and Reconstructed Meadow Flowers Photomontage

30 September 2019


Deconstructed Meadow Flowers Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2019 Sally W. Donatello

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


Memory is an evergreen phenomenon. Even yesterday’s experiences can rarely be recalled with precise accuracy. Bending a thought is more attuned to what the mind preserves. Still, the essence can be found, and its emotional gifts can be felt and stored.

Frequently, I ponder memory’s role in life: how it easily can manipulate how we act, how we behave, how it shapes us. Even the smallest of experiences needs hard work to recreate its fullest meaning.

This past week I decided to take a stroll in my wildflower meadow and explore more than its benefits. I was struck with thoughts of construction, destruction and reconstruction, because each flower head has vast elements—elements that spur eye-catching investigation and lengthy after thoughts.

Take one single cosmos and pluck a petal; it has dimensions that are worthy of examination: scalloped edges, fine lines of various colors at its base, and saturated hues that stun. Just one petal can induce deeply heartfelt awe and wonder.

And so the idea that a meadow is packed with such pleasures has me tinkering at each phase of a species’ evolution. Wildflowers are mirrors into the convergence and divergence of the universe’s playgrounds. And since I act as a year-round steward, they provide memories to savor over and over.

Photography provides memory. It gives us enough information to sense our original reaction and be able to store others. As I frame a subject, light changes visual perception, color influences, form and lines echo comparisons; all become part of the memory’s syncopation.

Long ago I decided that part of my adventure in nature would become more than an immediate reaction. As I gathered flower heads, I became more and more steeped in the deconstruction of the whole into its parts. I’d create a sculpture from flowers that already are sculptures; art birthing more art.

The gathering was in itself filled with unexpected discoveries that the mind slowed its cadence during that process. As I filled a small square container, it became the vessel for remembrance, a vessel for rainbows of florets, a vessel to inspire creativity, a vessel for memories.

Methodically, I made the arrangement, flat and on a white board. As humans we continually deconstruct natural habits, leaving bare and lifeless behind.

Sometimes the harvesting of the natural world is more than the sum of its intentions. The harvesting becomes symbolic of human dependence and human interference. In the Lens section I wanted to show my imagined deconstruction of the flowers, the up close and personal effects of how (symbolically) we construct, destruct and reconstruct our environments.


Posted in Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 19 Comments