Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 9 (Rose and Chinese Hibiscus Photomontage)

28 August 2017

Lens:

Rose and Chinese Hydrangea Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Rose and Chinese Hydrangea Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

My Ode to Mother Nature

The                                                                                                                                                               soft                                                                                                                                                      delicacy                                                                                                                                                           of                                                                                                                                                          another                                                                                                                                                     day,                                                                                                                                                 enveloping                                                                                                                                                and                                                                                                                                                      evolving                                                                                                                                                        with                                                                                                                                                      vibrancy                                                                                                                                                       and                                                                                                                                       transformation.

The                                                                                                                                                     delicacy                                                                                                                                                          of                                                                                                                                                                        a                                                                                                                                                                flower                                                                                                                                                     moves                                                                                                                                                           the                                                                                                                                                             day                                                                                                                                                     forward                                                                                                                                                         in                                                                                                                                                       harmony.

Nature’s                                                                                                                                       exuberance                                                                                                                                          creates                                                                                                                                                             a                                                                                                                                                                  nest                                                                                                                                                               in                                                                                                                                                                  the                                                                                                                                                              soul,                                                                                                                                                      shoring                                                                                                                                                        the                                                                                                                                                       center’s                                                                                                                                         endurance.

The soft lift of a flower.

Note:

In America and the world we face a crucial test of humanity. Will we pledge ourselves to do our part to stop climate change. One way to participate is to support an organization whose mission is to protect the planet. The World Wildlife Fund is devoted to that charge. From their website: “For 50 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature.”As the “world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.” They focus on :”food, climate, fresh water, wildlife, forest and oceans.” Hope that you’ll visit their site, and consider donating. I have been supporting them for decades, and I’m always impressed with their reach and results.

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Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 8 (Coneflower and Hydrangea Photomontage)

21 August 2017

Lens:

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

Flower Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Flower Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

America has become unrecognizable. Breathing and exhaling takes more effort; there’s a constant bombardment of rhetoric that scorches the heart and soul. The spirit feels injured, deflated. How, how could we be led by such a person? How can we endure what he represents?

One way is to allow the light to prevail, be more prevalent. The weightiness can be lifted, temporarily, secluding the dark and revealing beams to shore the inner world. I believe that dark cannot stifle light.

To pledge allegiance is to believe. Today’s belief must be substituted for uncertainty in collaboration with HOPE and persistence to recover the country’s moral center.

In the Lens section is my latest photomontage: a combination of coneflower and hydrangea. The conversion to black and white helps to detail the visual language of photography. It allows the words to bounce from the image and creates meaning that is wrapped in contrast, tone, shape, line, and effect of the monochromatic.

With the variation of these elements come a clearer frame of possibilities for each of us. Hold tight to one’s principles and never let them go.

Note:

James Balog is a nature photographer who has spent the last 30 years documenting the interconnection between nature and human nature. His images explore endangered animals, North America’s old-growth forests, and polar ice. From the National Geographic website: “Photographer James Balog, whose Extreme Ice Survey employs time-lapse cameras to document glaciers worldwide, has indisputable and visually stunning proof that ancient glaciers are disappearing at an alarming rate.” His work on this series began in 2007 with the mission to combine art and science to give a voice to the Earth’s ecosystem.

View (19.22 minutes) the TED talk in which he presents his Extreme Ice Project. Balog says, “When I realized that climate change was real, and it was not based on computer models, I decided that one day I would do a project looking at trying to manifest climate change photographically. And that led me to this project. Initially, I was working on a National Geographic assignment — conventional, single frame, still photography. And one crazy day, … I got the idea that I should shoot in time-lapse photography, that I should station a camera or two at a glacier and let it shoot every 15 minutes, or every hour or whatever and watch the progression of the landscape over time.” His project has become critical to study and understand the shift in ice formations, and how those changes will affect the planet. 

 

 

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 7 (Trees of Life Photomontage)

14 August 2017

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed, FX PhotoStudio and Pixlr.

Tree of Life Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Tree of Life Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens: How easy it would be to open this post as a whiner. Without debate, there is much to fuss and fume and seethe. But fate is a fancy word for turning away from possibilities and reality. And history tells us that the human psyche prevails in the most arduous of situations and times.

Instead of complaining I prefer to register degrees of gratitude for believing that the human spirit sees justice in the greater good, and will prevail.

A few months ago with a touch of good fortune I discovered the “ecology of ideas” of Rebecca Solnit. Years ago I first read her thoughts on the human condition, which spurred me to read more and more of her works. Her oeuvre explores subjects on the cultural, environmental, political and social implications of this existence on Mother Earth. She inspires me to be better.

Recently, she was interviewed for an article in The New York Times (“How Rebecca Solnit Became the Voice of the Resistance” by Alice Gregory, 08 August 2017). Here are some choice quotes:

‘‘I am interested in almost everything, and it can sometimes seem like a burden.’’ She cited Virginia Woolf and Henry David Thoreau as the writers most important to her: ‘‘Each of them wrote exquisitely about experiential, immediate encounters with the tangible world but could also be very powerful political polemicists. And the arc of their work describes a space in which you can be both.’’

‘‘…there are more than enough people telling us how horrific and terrible and bad everything is, and I don’t really need to join that project,’’ she said. ‘‘There’s a whole other project of trying to counterbalance that — sometimes we do win and this is how it worked in the past.’’ She continued, ‘‘Change is often unpredictable and indirect. We don’t know the future. We’ve changed the world many times, and remembering that, that history, is really a source of power to continue and it doesn’t get talked about nearly enough.’’

So I’ve chosen to follow Solnit on this quest to resist the negative, and focus on how to live in the smaller universe of my world within the larger universe. One surety running through my thoughts is that life on earth continues to redefine itself.

In the Lens section is my latest photomontage that honors this thinking, this personal philosophy. While there are moments of relapse into the dark, I will use this image to project that spirit. It’s really up to each of US to find our way in and through this new world order.

Truly, inner expansion breathes honor to protect the web of life. And life on earth does continue to redefine itself through the interaction between nature and human nature.

Note:

From TED Talks website: “Frans Lanting is one of the greatest nature photographers of our time. His work has been featured in National Geographic, Audubon and Time, as well as numerous award-winning books. Lanting’s recent exhibition, “The LIFE Project,” offers a lyrical interpretation of the history of life on Earth.”

Click here to watch the video (filmed in February 2005, runs 16.17 minutes) that shows Lanting’s project, “a poetic collection of photographs that tell the story of our planet, from its eruptive beginnings to its present diversity. Soundtrack by Philip Glass.”

 

 

 

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photomontage as Palette in an Age of Uncertainty: No. 6 (Hydrangea)

07 August 2017

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed, FX PhotoStudio and Pixlr.

Hydrangea Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Hydrangea Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

Words are the wellspring of inner and outer survival. They bridge our days and nights between the world and ourselves. I’m always intrigued and thrilled to discover a single word that manages to express the depth and breath of a concept that often defies explanation. But that discovery often eludes, and can only be met with enthusiasm when found.

Sometimes a word of staggering significance can bemuse and surprise as it enters my universe. Yesterday was one of those moments that the new filled the synapses with a deep sigh of satisfaction. Anoesis is that space sought as a panacea for stress in the nuances and weight of everyday life. To be completely free of incoming thoughts that either buoy or sink our spirits is to be in lyrical balance. That place, that space is a precious respite for the mind’s best, mixed and sketchy work. It grabs the conscious and lets it free itself of the hard work. It’s close to other such mind’s work of curious mystery, not empty but closed to chatter and turmoil.

During the creative process there are spaces that are called flow, Alpha state, the zone and other such descriptors. Regardless, the act of creativity takes heavy lifting, and the mind knows it. It can seem effortless in the flow state, but in actuality we are busy immersing ourselves on the path to fulfillment. Quite the opposite of anoesis, which is a challenge to achieve.

While I have experienced the sensation of flow in various configurations, the exercise to create a photomontage can gracefully slip me into that arena of quietude as well as emotional and mental tranquility. It’s hard to delineate the precise notion of this state of focus, the confluence of concentration upon a specific act.

In the Lens section is an image that is a tribute to this summer’s overabundance of gorgeous hydrangeas. The landscape is abuzz with their tiny florets that form various size boughs and clusters. They are a prize for anyone’s observations.

In the throes of a few photo shoots, I found a hydrangea covered in soft colors from off-whites to soft pinks to bold purples to vocal blues. The image became a composite from that large plant, and reminds me of the state of simply being to effectively create a worthy image that bursts with enthusiasm.

After completion the image became a symbol of that place of flow: a place that brings experience upon experience into the mix to influence the visible and invisible realms of the ever-ever-evolving universe. The photomontage articulates the sensibilities of the image making as it is being made: a chaos that becomes softly noticeable and real. Then settles into itself, defining its meaning. The placement of image upon image releases a collaboration between what is seen and what it becomes, moving beyond the original to the new.

Note:

Recently, the article “Racing to Save the Reef” (by Glenn Kenny, The New York Times,        07 July 2017) introduced the latest documentary by the team that produced “Chasing Ice” (2012). “Chasing Coral” was launched by Netflix in July, and is a powerful contribution to materials that inform about climate change and its ramifications. It specifically focuses on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and how the oceans are being effected by the escalating alteration and volatility of the weather. To read an article about the film and its producers, click here. Here is another review of “Chasing Coral” about nature programming at its finest and most disturbing.

Posted in Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in an Age of Uncertainty – No. 5 (Palm Leaf Photomontage)

31 July 2017

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr

Palm Leaf Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Palm Leaf Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

Each of us is familiar with a teachable moment where the life lesson is apparent in the act itself. Or even later after contemplation. And I am convinced that nature is the ultimate oracle: providing lesson after lesson.

Nature awakens sparks that encourage the foraging of my spirit and soul. Nature awakens an inner play, that creates and instigates associations and experimentations with ideas and thoughts. Unsuspected concepts are brought to light, sometimes foggy and later clarified.

This morning on a walk I thought about the hibiscus in my garden, and its short-lived beauty, within a day becoming less than its dazzling first appearance. Since I am a visual consumer, I am compelled to savor the brief sighting of this native that sparks inspiration in its brevity.

Then I was reminded about the proliferation of perennials that seem to appear at every turn in summer gardens. They gravitate to my sight line.

For example, this year the hydrangea’s outrageous abundance of flower heads have their own unique draw. Delicate and seemingly fragile in appearance, they are long-lasting and a stellar choice to dry for years of quiet yet attention-grabbing displays.

During summery cycles we often disengage from the leaves, which are essential to the nourishment and survival of botany’s progeny. When the eye allows a flower to recede and a leaf to be honored, much can be discovered and interpreted. It’s a dreamy unveiling of what exists in its visual message, but needs attention to see intricate world of rewards and wealth of character.

In the Lens section is a tribute to the seasonal leaf. I selected a palm leaf that I captured at Longwood Gardens. As I layered the foliage, it reminded me of a roadmap, which disclosed connections between this species in the proliferation of life on Earth and its “web of life.”

As the photomontage became a symbol for nature and how it navigates the universe that we inhabit, the realization became a teachable moment. Of course, I comprehend the interdependence of nature and human nature. But there occurred in my completed image a level of confluence and dimensionality of reality that made me pause and pause and pause. In my awareness I could sense the life blood of nature’s abundance and mastery. I could sense the intense power it has over me.

Note: For those of you who are devotees to species that roam our earth, Joel Sartore, a noted National Geographic photographer, has produced a book, Photo Ark, to document them. Here are excerpts from Sartore’s website and National Geographic. “Joel Sartore is an award-winning photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic fellow, and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. Joel specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes around the world. He is the founder of the Photo Ark, a 25-year documentary project to save species and habitat. “It is folly to think that we can destroy one species and ecosystem after another and not affect humanity,” he says. “When we save species, we’re actually saving ourselves.” Joel and the Photo Ark will be the subjects of RARE, a three-part series airing this summer on PBS.” Hope that you can view the documentary and/or purchase his book, which is a masterpiece of nature’s majesty.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Macro Photography, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in an Age of Uncertainty – No. 4 (Dahlia Photomontage)

24 July 2017

Lens:

Dahlia Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Dahlia Photomontage, Longwood Gardens; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

Note: Dahlia Photomontage taken  in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed, iColorama, Pixlr and Stackables.

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Henry David Thoreau

As a naturalist, philosopher and writer Henry David Thoreau is legendary. This month scores of devotees celebrated his 200-year-old birthday on 12 July in Concord, the place of his birth. His legacy remains at Walden Pond, and many of us including environmentalists and conservationists continue his work of education and preservation. His influence shaped America’s national parks program and other protective measures of America’s natural wonders.

But also I am enamored by his dedication to the human condition, and the combination of his passions has made him one of my heroes. He devoted his life as much to the discovery of our inner wild landscapes as the outer ones.

If I were to divide my fascinations, passions and obsessions into portions, gardening and nature would take a sizable chuck of the space in my thoughts. And they have increased exponentially with the stance of my country’s leaders on everything from the climate pact to land preservation to drilling off the Atlantic Coast to discretion of national parks to reversal of laws protecting waterways, and other endless assaults on the planet.

These actions pump anxiety into my veins. So I’m happy to focus on Thoreau as a stellar advocate for America’s sacred lands and those who inhabit their wildness. The untamed has an essential role in my gardens, and much of my planning and care center around the creation of wildlife habitats and reducing the human imprint.

Here is a famous passage that I hope will bring Thoreau into your daily thoughts and reading life.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

In the Lens section is my ode to Thoreau: a summer dahlia made into a photomontage that exemplifies the layer upon layer of nature’s longevity as well as the treasure trove of Mother Nature’s intensely technicolored jewels.

In honor of Thoreau’s legacy celebrate the wild.

 

 

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography as Palette in an Age of Uncertainty – No. 3 (Reflections)

17 July 2017

Lens:

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

Reflections Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

Reflections Photomontage; 2017 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved

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

Pens:

The germination of an idea is an expression of life itself. The dazzle of the mind’s work astounds. Human nature continues to discover its own potential.

The birth of a bud and its subsequent flowering is an act of nature’s brilliance. One has to pause and ponder the multitudes of genius and innovation in a single blossom or leaf: one phase of the intricate and complicated life cycle.

That pause never realizes the miracle of the science, the evolution of life and our existence. To arise each day is to embrace the miracle, whether conscious or not.

And so that bud of an idea wields such power that its inspiration should become inherently contagious. It reflects back and forth and opens insights into the human condition.

Nature’s reflections often are front and center, yet they can easily go unnoticed, even that splendorous floret. They breeze through our conscious unconsciously.

Nature provides this entertainment and to miss its performance can mask some of the most intriguing of natural wonders. Since photomontage re-imagines, reflections are apt as a subject, casting their sweeping interpretations that can mimic reality or entirely skirt it.

You can spy a reflection in a dewdrop, in a puddle or on any surface that can reflect light—flat or curved or folded or encapsulated. This mirroring effect can be gentle or strong reminders of the unnoticed. Usually we are on the watch for a river, lake, creek or pool of water to make this element apparent. But an unexpected sighting surprises and catches our gaze to amuse and bemuse.

Reflections taunt our mind’s idea of reality: colors can change, subjects can distort, meaning can be altered. They fascinate and play with our emotions and senses. They seem to record the past in the present. Or is it the present in the present? They tease our sense of what we know or think we know.

While on a walk this past week, I stopped at my usual checkpoint: a sliver of the White Clay Creek that runs through my neighborhood and is part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This daily encounter teaches me about observation and perseverance and the evergreen nature of nature. The still of the creek’s voice maybe be silent, nonetheless it reverberates through me each sighting. While I am on a bridge and could feel tall, I feel the small of humanity and the mastery of Mother Nature. That never varies.

Suddenly as I gaze down at the creek, concentric circles rippled outward from a fish that sprints upward. That effect was exactly the idea of the mind’s work with its multiple meanings and multiple reactions. The confluence of nature’s ripple effect exemplifies the human condition that has the same effect upon the universe.

Note: As summer lives up to its humid and hot days in my area of the world, I like recommending the most delicious of books about gardening and nature. An Island Garden (1894) by Celia Theater with Pictures and Illuminations by Chide Hassam is a classic. Mine is in a slip case and when I remove it, the gold embossed cover has an Art Nouveau aesthetic. But it’s the charm of the text and drawings that secure its permanence as a must-read for lovers of nature. Click here for a treat: a free download. Hope that you enjoy it as much as I do. It’s enlightening and insightful.

Posted in Black-and-White Photography, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 30 Comments