Gallery: photographing the four elements
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
Truly amazing, Sarah, all of them. You’ve really hit the mark with the elemental topic. Love the many different facets of water – from serene to tempestuous torrents. Wonderful. 🙂
Thanks so much Ali. I really enjoyed pulling all these shots together and I’m really pleased you like them.
GOrgeous photos. I have been to Twisp. It was years and years ago when I was in Jr. High (I don’t even want to do the math). Such a neat little town back then.
Thanks Kirstin 😊 We really liked Twisp but unfortunately we were passing through on Sunday so the art studios and galleries we’d hoped to visit were all closed. Luckily the fabulous bakery was open for lunch!
such a creative post – the water dries of images were my fave – and the stormy variants near the end – and then ending with a fun Shakespeare quote was a nice touch
Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed this. It was fun pulling it together 😀
Great collection again Sarah
Thank you 😊
Amazing selection of photo’s Sarah! That picture of the water at Cape Verde is really beautiful … and you could have “borrowed” some of our pictures of our “braai” fires (we must have close to a 100 or more). But the cherry on the cake – wow, that Botswana image is just out of this world!
Ah yes, you have plenty of fire shots 🔥🔥 I’m so pleased you liked that Botswana shot. We got some stunning sunsets in the Okavango!
Beautiful photos, Sarah. It is hard to pick a favorite. Probably the featured photo is most appealing.
Thank you 😊 That beach is pretty stunning but dangerous – people have been caught out by waves that can be powerful enough to sweep you out to sea!
Wonderful pictures, Sarah! I liked the drama of your last shot. Great shots of Yellowstone features too.
Thank you Siobhan, and I’m happy you liked the Yellowstone shots as I know you love it there 🙂
Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter
Fabulous collection. Didn’t know the Shakespeare quote but I like it!
It’s rather good isn’t it? Shakespeare had a knack of saying what we’ve all thought from time to time 😆
Sarah, I love the collection you have presented for Terri’s challenge. The burnt incense stands out to me.
Thank you so much Suzanne, glad you liked them 😀
Tales From My Lens
You have some great shots and memories here! I am fond of Yellowstone and have gone there through the years. Yosemite is another. Beautiful photographs to protray them!
Thank you 😀 I loved Yosemite even more than Yellowstone but our visit there was in the pre-digital days and although I’ve scanned some slides the quality isn’t great so I don’t tend to post them!
What a lovely set of images. The one of the incense sticks is genius!
Thanks so much Jude – I have to admit that photo is a favourite of mine 🙂
The sunset photograph is my pick but it was a difficult choice!
Thank you Amanda – as I said to Leighton below, I’m always interested to hear which photos appeal the most to different people 🙂
Do readers often pick the same photo? Or does it vary considerably?
In some posts they almost all pick the same one (the lion cubs in my animal trios for instance, https://www.toonsarah-travels.blog/gallery-when-three-is-better-than-two/) but others they all go for different ones as they’re tending to do here 🙂
You’re great at grouping your photography into these various themes. Such stunning shots here Sarah. If I had to pick one I’d go for the yacht line, it’s like a painting.
Thanks so much Leighton – I’m always interested to hear which photos appeal the most to different people and why 😀
the eternal traveller
Such a beautiful set of images!
Thank you 😊
What a great theme, Sarah. And the images for each section are stellar. Yellowstone, the reflection in Port Townsend, Iceland standouts among a terrific collection. PS I’m a little confused…should I follow you here? The other blog usually links here. Just wondering. 🙂
Hi Jane, and thanks for those nice words 😀 I’m a bit puzzled by your question however. This is my only blog and I thought you were already following it? Maybe WP has messed things up and it’s dropped off your list – that’s happened to me a few times with blogs I thought I was following!
A great idea for a post: and such great illustrations for your theme.
Well, the idea was Terri’s so I take no credit for that 😆 But thanks for the kind words about the images Margaret!
What an amazing selection there Sarah. Very many thanks for compiling and sharing this.
Thanks Yvonne, I’m really glad you enjoyed them. You’ll have recognised the Iceland shots of course!
Wonderful images, Sarah! And all the quotes so fitting!
Thank you so much Susanne 🙂
Terri Webster Schrandt
First of all, amazing places which even include areas close to my home (Yellowstone NP and Washington’s Olympic Peninsula), Sarah! Secondly that first quote? I wish I had found that–it’s so perfect and you nailed it! But OMG, what incredible images of all four elements from all over the world. Simply jaw dropping. The more I see of photos taken at Yellowstone, the more convinced I am that I will be there THIS year–I’m only an 8-hour drive away! Fabulous photos, Sarah!
Thanks so much Terri, I really appreciate the compliments 😀 And yes, you would love Yellowstone I think, so I hope you manage to get there! As a Brit I smiled of course at ‘only an 8-hour drive away’ 😆