Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 43 – Abstraction #2 Photomontage

14 May 2018

Lens:

Abstraction Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstraction Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

 

Abstraction Photomontage #2 ; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstraction Photomontage #2 ; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Click onto each image to enlarge. Let me know which you prefer. Prints are available upon request.

Pens:

As I passed the climbing hydrangea that has become a jewel on my front entrance, there was a dried flower from last autumn. That remainder from last year’s garden is a showy remnant. This native plant’s flowers are an apt example of how nature inspires human nature. The lace-like delicacy could easily encourage embroidery or lace work. The cluster of tiny flowers within the web-like flower spread outward with spaces for light to illuminate its design elements. It will be weeks before this year’s blooms appear in full regalia.

Meanwhile this one precious reminder will do. This climbing hydrangea quietly mesmerizes, and is one of few that will not harm the surface on which it clings. Its leaves are deep emerald and nearly heart shape. As a slow grower, it is manageable and easy to control and maintain. After six or more years it has spread as though wings opening the path to my home. It’s quite an emblem of Mother Nature’s presence.

That one leftover flower enchants and forecasts. In their full display they have tiny white flowers that are like a miniature winged bouquet. They cast a spell fresh or dried. Their resemblance to lace encourages the imagination. Even in their fragile appearance it survived a cold, cold winter to introduce this year’s spray of posies.

These signature florets of this native hydrangea is another symbol of spring’s verdant and continuous flourishing. Recent rain’s intermittent bathing of new and renewed life gives me pause. It lifts the cloud of political upheaval, and adds to spring’s many invigorating qualities, qualities that are ever-changing and evergreen.

While this hydrangea is eloquent in its dried state, it was not photogenic. No matter the effort to show what the mind interprets, it did not translate into a photograph. But it inspired me to revisit last week’s abstraction, and create another photomontage to show that while nature can be precise, she also has many sides that encourage circular responses.

Whimsy is just as cunning as an exact expression. So I offer you another impression of that reality, and with it I give you a way to see the hydrangea that floats through my thoughts. And in those imaginative moments it becomes a floral dream of Mother Nature’s extraordinary kaleidoscopic possibilities.

Note:

I’m waiting to receive the highly-praised book, The Overstory (2018), by Richard Powers. Its content bridges nature and human nature through the main protagonist: trees. You can read the review (“The Heroes of This Novel are Centuries Old and 300 Feet Tall” from The New York Times) that describes Powers as “a storyteller of such grand scope that Margaret Atwood was moved to ask: ‘If Powers were an American writer of the 19th century, which writer would he be? He’d probably be the Herman Melville of ‘Moby-Dick.’” If you have not heard of this novel, I urge you to read the review, especially if you are interested in nature’s mysterious and wondrous abilities. I cannot wait to dive into his storytelling that pays tribute to the natural world.

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 42 (Abstraction in Nature Photomontage)

07 May 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

Cactus and Hydrangea Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Abstraction in Nature Photomontage; 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.

Pens:

Abstraction in nature pervades the landscape; it busts out of what we perceive to be the natural world’s precise representations. At first glance angles, lines and shapes can translate into branches and leaves and four-legged foxes. Still, when we become more aware, we  can see the less defined.

Photograph a macro of a cactus and the subject can suddenly be amorphous. Take an image of a meadow and the subject can be less available for individual parts of the whole. Thus we must be open to what we see, and our ability to give unexpected meaning to the  visual. Sometimes it is a matter of re-orientation to what is before us. 

Abstraction is one aspect of spring’s feverish rejuvenation of the visual world. Waves of color accompany this awakening. As color begins to illuminate the way, my spirit becomes enlivened with more and more hope. Nature is one of humanity’s best healers, bringing revelations and surprises.

When I made the photomontage in the Lens section, I wanted to recreate that idea of nature’s abstract coloration. The combination of a cactus and hydrangea resulted in that feeling of nature’s tinting our visual universe with a flair of bold or modest bravado. 

Sometimes the landscape pulls apart the objective from the subjective, or the subjective from the objective. But the wonder of the non-representational comes from its ability to stand for more than a mixture of color. Rather it will exude a kaleidoscope that dances before us, and unveils more depth and emotions.

Abstraction can be the perfect inspiration for one’s imagination and pursuits. Abstraction can be the perfect instigator for life’s hidden possibilities. 

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 41 (Red Tulip Collage #2)

30 April 2018

Lens:

Taken in Camera+ and Polamatic. Edited in FX Photo Studio and Pixlr.

Tulip Collage II; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Tulip Collage II; 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.

Pens:

The emergence of each spring flower inspires a circular seeing, the seeing that was encouraged and taught by the British critic John Berger (1926-2017). As I examined every possible angle of the cunning red tulips from one of my gardens, the idea of truly seeing was central to my appreciation.

This variety of spring blooms incites a gasp and sense of wonder. When I began to explore every visible aspect of their outer petals and stems, astonishment rose and kept  increasing. Each tulip head was closed, not quite ready for full disclosure. After arranging a handful of them, their immersion in water was set to reveal their inner secrets.

Berger’s own discovery of the power of seeing our external world through a complete examination is clothed in multiple parts: the way we see what is directly in view and beyond that initial glimpse. He became world-famous for one of the most critical parts of being human: our ability to fully communicate and understand our visual universe.

While one hopes that the camera’s lens and framing encourages such seeing, it really takes a core awareness to be completely attentive to the outer world. And that’s just from our own point of view. Each of us could still a flower, and results could be completely foreign to the next person’s interpretation. Seems obvious, but again most of us see what is directly in front of us.

And so Berger’s 1975 book Ways of Seeing burst the concept of personal observation. He gave the world a small tome that revealed how each of us can bring more of the outer world to our inner life’s experience, simply by moving and moving and seeing with a critical lens.

Berger’s philosophy about art and everyday life is part of art history and popular culture education, and the BBC production of Ways of Seeing can be seen on YouTube. Or get the book. It’s a lesson about our perception of our visual universe that helps to illuminate reality in one’s day.

His words radiate more today than ever. In an age of instant gratification and snapping every scene, much is missed in the rush to record and share. To slow the momentum gives an opportunity to see deeper and more comprehensively.

That’s, of course, my mission. Others move faster. It’s just a different way of living one’s life. It’s that simple and yet complex.

Note:

Here are marvelous examples of webcams that bring you up close and personal to wildlife. One of my favorites is the great horned owl nest with a family of mom and three little ones. Viewing each video takes patience, but it’s worth exploring one or all eleven.

https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/best-wildlife-webcams

 

 

 

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 40 (Spring Collage)

23 April 2018

Lens:

Taken in Polamatic and edited in Snapseed and Pixlr.

'Bonfire' Rosaceae Collage; All Rights Reserved Sally W. Donatello

‘Bonfire’ Rosaceae Collage; All Rights Reserved Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

On a recent stroll through the university’s botanic garden I was enchanted by the seduction of a flowering tree that I have never seen: Prunus persica ‘Bonfire’ Rosaceae. It wasn’t just the gentle pink of the petals and the fancy interiors. But it also was the brush of light and shadows across their faces, blossoms whose grace were distinguishable by the way each reached toward the sunlight.

Even after my attention changed its direction around the gardens, little engaged as that flowering tree did. But there was little emerging to charm. The season has been glacial and temps are seesawing, frustrating gardeners and (well) everyone. But those jewels already had been transformed for waiting visitors.

The strength of their delicacy and eloquence was touched with dark shadows by morning light beams. They perked my inner need for such floral radiance. Most trees are not in the bud stage, and green shoots are not as advanced as usual. But we know there is no usual any more. As the world turns with climate change, so does the uncertainty of nature’s schedule.

In the Lens section is a collage of two views of these early spring blooms. The ‘Bonfire’ Rosaceae took such hold of me that it was quite a while until I moved onto another section of the gardens. Without a doubt these stunning florets and the tulips were the center of my interest, and just enough to push the senses into a state of quiet exultation.

Note: Yesterday was the 48th anniversary of Earth Day, and truly Mother Earth needs as much celebrating as we can muster. A word that rose to the occasion is biophilia. For you words fans it is a gem that had me humming its sing-song melodic pronunciation. Its definition is one that fits honoring the planet that supports our very existence: “the love of life and the living world” (from dictionary.com). I wish that everyone felt about the wonders of nature as those of us who work as stewards for the earth, embracing every day as a tribute to the collaboration between nature and human nature. But regardless of your devotion, everyone can do a small or greater contribution to sustain our planet. It’s the perfect season to plant a garden. Gardens can be created in the earth or containers. For example, plant pollinators that support agriculture and its various byproducts. Flower and herbs gardens are a perfect beginning. Happy planting.

Posted in Collage, Digital Art, Gardens and Gardening, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 39 (Tulip Collage)

16 April 2018

Lens:

Tulip Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Tulip Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

Decade after decade the list of flowers that captivate my spirit grows. Clarity often rises unexpectedly. But there are specific ones that always will tantalize my senses.

And so it is with the tulip. Suddenly their inner and outer beauty became apparent. Still it’s been less than a decade of adoration. There are specific elements in its architecture that simple overwhelm. As the petals align in place, they seem as though they are miniature mountains moving into the distance, layer upon layer. They entrance both outwardly and inwardly. But in the early stages the outer petals are the first to charm me.

The tulip in the Lens section is my first spring sighting of this spectacular seasonal mainstay. I was visiting a local botanical garden, and was awed because their tulips are at least two weeks ahead of mine. And I’m two miles away as the road travels eastward.

And it was such a glorious surprise, the row of delicately pinkish tulips drifting side by side in a gentle wave of color. I went to spy on pussy willows, and first my heart was captured by blossoming tulips.

They have come to represent the transformation of the chill of winter into the spritely light of spring. Their symbolism resides in my head, cozy and inspiring a close up examination of their offerings, inside and out.

While these spring jewels are but one of a multitude of Mother Nature’s progeny, they single the season’s awakening—an awakening that carries hope in the duet of nature and human nature. But clearly there is more to their influence.

Spring’s abundant glory expands my inner landscape as the outer visual landscape transforms into a verdant vista. And hope rises as the light beckons new life.

 

 

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

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty: No. 38 (Hellebores Collage)

02 April 2018

Lens:

Hellebores Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Hellebores Collage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

“There is a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

Is it possible that in order to see how light infiltrates, influences and inspires, we must see the dark and its role in the light? And light after the dark offers expansive solace in the world’s darkening days and nights. That ray or rays give energy and substance to our lives. Do we need to see the dark to see the radiance in ourselves?

The Lens section shows images that speak to my sense of light moving slowly, glacially releasing gestures of what it touches. They voice my emotions in those moments of seeing, where my relationship with light and dark surpasses the science of their energy.

Light and dark define my ability to circle nature and move inside her heart. And that translates through the waves of surface effects and its dance through space and time. Then my mind’s lens circulates as witness to other aspects of light and dark. Contrast and shadows emerge to seduce in direct and subtle ways.

Hellebores are one of spring’s first floral arrivals. Their visual presence forms groupings that pierce through seesaw temps during sunny, rainy and snowy days. As with snowdrops their heads hang downward as if to hide and shelter from the temperamental days and nights. That design keeps the sun’s light from their faces, hiding their inner beauty.

In the collage the bud and flower have their own character, which is seasoned with lights gentle presence. Because these flowers emerge in the woodlands near my pond, they are sprinkled with light that is seemingly silent as the sun is on its move. But it’s their bowing heads that keep them in the shadows. So I’ve shown what is missed of these stunning early bloomers.

Light is probably the singular element that is necessary for us to appreciate what we see, how we see, why we see it or do not. The stretch of a sunbeam can hold us so tightly. We learn to appreciate its expansive touch, and savior how it allows us to notice the seen or hidden through heartfelt awareness.

The luxury of seeing inside our own frame of reference helps to explain what is before us. It’s our biology plus psychological plus aesthetic appeal plus emotional sensibility.

Light urges self-expression, the desire to create: using its luminosity, its range of influences from morning to twilight, diffused to focused, shade to dark, filtered to medium-level, artificial to natural, moonlight to black of night, shadows to golden glow and so it goes.

The smallest of light source can be the key and the harbinger of the unnoticed. It shores the spirit with grace and promise. It pierces the senses with an alarm that adds to treasured memories.

Note:

I’ll going on vacation and will post next on 16 April 2018. Meanwhile here is a favorite Ansel Adams’ quote to ponder. His profound insights speak directly to me.

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Ansel Adams (1902-1984)

Posted in Collage, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Visual Reflections: Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty – No. 37 (Ode to Spring’s Awakening Photomontage)

26 March 2018

Lens:

Ode to Spring Photomontage; ALl Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

Ode to Spring Photomontage; All Rights Reserved 2018 Sally W. Donatello

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

Pens:

Reaching, stretching skyward are nature’s actions that speak to spring. Now even in the aftermath of a fierce storm this past week, my garden fare exhibits that movement, energy amassing toward the season’s stirring power of greening and preening. As in past years observation of spring’s waves become saturated in renewal and leaps from muted to hues without boundaries.

As with most memory visions of years and years of seasonal change can be compete with the new. But each year’s contribution to my treasure trove is sealed in harmonious and vibrant images. Surprise and mystery await as daylight increases, and sets the dreams of winter into the enchantment of spring.

Spring elevates the senses with scenes of unleafing as the foliage reveals its layers of magic. Life unfurls simultaneously across the land, and the seemingly static landscape organically energizes the seen and unseen. Wildlife, once systematically converged, has to seesaw with timetables set by climate change. And life continues.

My natural instincts blissfully attend to the nooks and crannies of my gardens, slowly because the earth is saturated from last week’s rain and snow. Tradition skirts around and ignores the usual steps. Climate change makes for more vigilance and steady attentiveness.

Still, it is worth the seesaw behavior of days and nights for each new sighting. And I am forever grateful to be diverted from the chaos in my government. So I’m grateful that the equinox arrived to distract, setting me temporarily free from the ongoing bombardment of news that staggers common sense and the greater good.

In the Lens section is an ode to this continual seasonal movement that is a signature of the life cycle, but more easily observed in spring. When I began to fill my head with the elements of the photomontage, I realized that it suited my devotion and reference and exploration of nature’s omnipresence. It merrily and seriously arranged itself to conjure the effervescence of vernal days ahead, those bursts of colors to fill the spirit and soul.

Note:

“Backyard Wilderness” (Released 16 March 2018 by Archipelago Films; go here to watch a three-minute preview) brought tears to the surface; it’s view of the evergreen nature of nature is filled with the connections and disconnections of humans to the natural world. It’s a film for all ages, but I especially would recommend it for children to re-enforce the need for nature to be part of our daily world.

The story is told through a close-up personal lens, and creates the extraordinary world that is noticed and not. Directors and writers Susan Todd and Andrew Young use backyards as a point of departure to discuss the majesty of the natural world, and the result is an extraordinary narrative. The film is being seen across the country on IMAX theatres and other giant screens at such venues as aquariums, and museums.

 

Posted in Abstraction, Digital Art, Mobile Photography, Nature, Nature Photography, Photography, Photomontage, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 26 Comments