Fire lives in the death of earth, air lives in the death of fire, water lives in the death of air, and earth in the death of waterHeraclitus
For this week’s Sunday Stills challenge Terri proposes that we share images of the elements. Some are easier to photograph than others, as a quick trawl of my archives shows. Of water and earth I have many images. But air is much harder to capture, and fire too.
Of the four elements water is the second in weight and the second in respect of mobility. It is never at rest until it unites with the sea …Leonardo Da Vinci
Water of course has the power to shape the earth and as we will see it is usually the causes of changes in the air. We can use it to extinguish fire too of course. Does this make it the most powerful of all the elements?
And water is probably the most varied and easiest to photograph, or so my archives would suggest. The sea, lakes, rivers, waterfalls; it was difficult to choose which to showcase. And that’s without even looing at snow and ice, water’s solid forms. Nor steam, which has managed to sneak into one of the other sections!
Waves crashing on the shore on a windy day in Sal, Cape Verde
The power of water at Seljalandsfoss in Iceland
Reflection of a yacht’s mast in the waters off Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State
Still waters just after sunset at Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Park, Washington State
Rain on a window at Tate St Ives gallery in Cornwall
We might say that the earth has a spirit of growth; that its flesh is the soil, its bones the arrangement and connection of the rocks of which the mountains are composed, its cartilage the tufa, and its blood the springs of water.Leonardo da Vinci
The earth is all around us so it’s perhaps not surprising that I have plenty of photos to choose from here too. I’ve chosen to focus on a selection that shows the earth in its different characters – dramatic, colourful, daunting, and even a little bit vulnerable.
At the City of Rocks State Park in southern New Mexico
In the Valle de la Luna, Atacama Desert, Chile; our guide claimed this rock formation looked like the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex but I think it’s more like a spanner!
The formations at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
Striking colours at West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
A single flower has found its way through these rocks on Mount Paektu in North Korea, and a bee has found its way to the flower
Fire is a natural symbol of life and passion, though it is the one element in which nothing can actually live.Susanne Katherina Langer, American philosopher
Surprisingly I can find no photos of leaping flames in my archives, or at least, none strong enough for me to want to share them! So for the most part I have instead images of the effects of fire and of heat upon our earth; the steaming landscapes where the heat within meets the more temperate surface. In addition I show how we can use fire in positive ways while fearing its potential to cause harm.
Smoke pluming from Volcan Fuego in Guatemala
At Geysir in Iceland, the place that gave geysers their name
One of the geysers at El Tatio in the Atacama Desert, Chile
Wildfire in a valley near Twisp in Washington State (thankfully brought quickly under control by firefighters)
Incense drifting around the Lama Temple in Beijing
Burning incense sticks in the grounds of Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Temple in Kyoto
All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man…the air shares its spirit with all the life it supportsChief Seattle
The air that surrounds us is invisible, making it a particular challenge to photograph! But you can photograph the effects of different atmospheric conditions. Clouds and mist make skies more dramatic and interesting, and make us more aware of the impact that changes in air pressure and movement can have on our lives down below.
Early morning mist drifting over the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi (no, I didn’t stay there!)
View of a storm over Kingston, Jamaica, from the Blue Mountains
Storm approaching, southern New Mexico
Stormy sunset in Grants, New Mexico
Dramatic late afternoon sky over Xugana Island in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
I’ll leave it to Shakespeare to have the last word on this subject:
‘ “Does not our lives consist of the four elements?”
“Faith, so they say; but I think it rather consists of eating and drinking.” ‘William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
And finish with an image that has a bit of all four elements.
Water, earth, air and a fiery sunset over the Okavango Delta in Botswana