Showcase 2021 Winner: Melissa Fraser

“Palm Trees Morphed into a Nature Mandala," Moloka'i, Hawai'i, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Melissa Fraser.
“Palm Trees Morphed into a Nature Mandala,” Moloka’i, Hawai’i, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Melissa Fraser.

Artist’s statement

I have recently been learning more about meditation and am fascinated by the many ways one can choose to meditate. One ancient form of meditation is to focus on a mandala image. Mandalas, or circles, are a sacred form of meditation that allows the individual to focus on the image and in clinical trials has been shown to promote healthy living. With this image, I tried to combine an image of nature, which is naturally calming to me, with the idea of mandala art. This image reminds me of a warm tropical sunset with the color, trees, and circular motion. When looking at it, I can almost feel the warm sun, hear the waves and feel the salty air on my face, and it sends me into a relaxed state.

How I got the shot

This image is a composite of two images and involved using several apps to post-process on my iPhone. The first image was a palm tree grove at sunset on the beautiful Hawaiian island, Moloka’i, and the second image was made looking up through the branches of the palm grove. I used the app SnapSeed to combine the two images and then Distressed FX to enhance the orange glow. I used Touch Retouch to remove some distracting power lines. Once I had the image I liked, I then used the app Circular to render the scene in a circular pattern.

About me

I am a part-time professional photographer.  I have lectured on smartphone photography at numerous camera clubs and at the New England Council of Camera Clubs annual conference.  I lead the Greater Lynn Photographic Association (MA) smartphone specialty group.  I assist my husband, Charles Needle (a charter NANPA member and full-time pro), in some of his workshops and classes. I like literal images but really enjoy exploring my creative side with various smartphone apps. I just moved to Colorado and look forward to exploring and photographing all the beauty that is here.

I have PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology and my day job often limits my imaginative, creative side. Photography is a welcome escape from the long days of studies, experiments and work. My photography skills served me well during school years when capturing images of my experiments.  I had the privilege of making microscopic images using different kinds of microscopes. My work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was published in the January issue of Neuroscience with my artistic image featured on the cover. It was very exciting to have my discovery and my artwork featured!

My photographic journey

I began photographing when I was 12 years old on vacation in Bar Harbor, Maine.  I was confident I could capture nature on film, and my dad handed his camera to me.  I never gave it back.  My love for nature grew through volunteering at New Hampshire Audubon, science classes and hiking in that state. My love for nature and photography grew together over the years. Photography served me well as a stress release during the years I was a student.  The annual Nikon Small World photomicrography competition award-winning images inspire me, because they represent the beautiful intersection of science and art.

NANPA and me

I am a new member of NANPA, having joined last year after learning about the organization from my husband.  One image of mine made it into the top 250 in last year’s Showcase, and I’m truly honored to receive a Judges’ Choice award this year.  I look forward to learning more about NANPA and exploring ways to become more involved.

See more of Melissa’s images

  • Palm Trees Morphed into a Nature Mandala, altered reality image by Melissa Fraser
    Palm Trees Morphed into a Nature Mandala, Moloka'i, Hawai'i, 2021 Showcase Judges' Choice, Altered Reality © Melissa Fraser