Posts Tagged ‘elements’

metallic treesStrong, solid, brilliant, inflexible and reflective are all words used to describe metal as an element.  Its mood is melancholic and serious.  Metal is also a conductor and can represent bright ideas and  communication.  In nature, metal is associated with white, grey, silver and gold.

Although green in the daylight, the leaves on the trees at left shimmer silver in the moonlight.  Their eerie look was made even more so by the presence of bats flying above me as I took photos along the Salt Marsh Trail in the minutes before dawn.

The metal images from our scavenger hunt reflect the greatest diversity of interpretations of an element yet.  Despite metal’s quality of rigidity, two animals, a frog and donkey,  and a human scalp were featured as subjects in our set.


An iron buoy, wrought metal, bone and flowers add to the mix.  These images left me with such questions as… Which is more important, shape or color, in helping us determine what something is?  At what point does yellow become gold or grey become silver?  What role does white play in revealing a subject’s reflective quality?

An excellent man, like precious metal, is in every way invariable;  a villain like the beams of a balance, is always varying, upwards and downwards.

~ John Locke

This montage is the last of our five elements.  Tomorrow, I’ll offer a summary of our scavenger hunt.

Images in the montage were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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sun risingEven when it’s raining and the days are cloudy, the sun is still blazing in the sky.  Its presence is vital to our survival and that of every other living thing on the planet.  It’s no surprise that so many cultures throughout the ages have worshipped this ball of flames. Though we shouldn’t look into the sun (see here for some good reasons why), we can look into the flames of a fire.

Like us, fire requires oxygen.  It can provide warmth and cook food or be a destructive force like no other.  Visually, it can be mesmerizing.  Back in the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau was already lamenting the growing absence of open flames in hearths due to the introduction of wood stoves.  He believed that you could always see a face in the flames, and that gazing into a fire at the end of a long day of hard work was both warming and relaxing.

What is fire?  It’s a mystery.  Scientists give us gobbledegook about friction and molecules, but they don’t really know.

~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451


Who would have thought that fiery reds and oranges could be found so easily in the summer landscape?  A Pileated Woodpecker, berries, seaweed, flowers and leaves are all examples of the fire element in nature at this time of year.  It’s no wonder that the fire element is often associated with the summer sun.

Images in the montage were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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fox tracks

It’s so easy for us to take the earth beneath our feet for granted. It demands nothing of us. We know it has nowhere else to go. It’s here to stay.

The earth nourishes. Its stability enables seeds to grow. Animals dig in it and make tunnels and dens for shelter.  The sand at left was dug out of dunes by foxes at Rainbow Haven Beach.

The colors of the earth are varying shades of brown, oranges and yellows.  This element is found in nature in the light sand on the beach, rich dark soil and compost in gardens, shifting desert sands, clay, mud and stones.

An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it.   In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth.  What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend,  but it helps to realize that even though they are many,  they work as one.
~Carol Williams
Bringing a Garden to Life, 1998


Images from our scavenger hunt illustrate earth’s many forms, from the red Australian sand to the wet seashore in England and beautiful fields in British Columbia and Michigan.  The image of a cave entrance from Scene Through My Eyes reveals earth’s mysterious qualities of depth and hidden strength.

Earth images in the montage above were taken from submissions to a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

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The following is a list of links for submissions received to date  for the scavenger hunt:

  1. Jessica at The Magical Mundane in Michigan USA
  2. Kathy at Opening the Door, Walking Outside in Michigan USA
  3. JoAnn at Scene Through My Eyes in Washington USA
  4. Dawn at Sahlah Photos & Thoughts in Washington USA
  5. Jessica at Nature in Focus in the United Kingdom
  6. Robin at Robin Eye Photography in New York USA
  7. Pamela at Books in Northport in Michigan USA
  8. Gerry at Torch Lake Views in Michigan USA
  9. Joan (see images below) in British Columbia Canada

Information about the scavenger hunt can be found in the following posts:

Thank you to everyone who participated and everyone who offered comments, both here and on participants’ blogs.  I’ll be posting a recap and an announcement of winners later this week.


The following images were submitted to the scavenger hunt by Joan in British Columbia:

flaming leaves

FIRE–Flaming leaves reach for the sky, Sardis Park, BC  (Patterns: Branch, flame-like tips)harrison lake

WATER–Evening at Harrison Lake, BC  (Pattern: Meander–the crests of the mountains)

silver hair

METAL–The Canadian Silverhair, Native to BC  (Pattern: Spiral)

tree rings

WOOD–Tree rings, Cultus Lake, BC  (Pattern: Circle)


EARTH–Wild grass on a misty day, Greendale, BC  (Pattern: Branch)

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red leaf

Five elements are thought to exist in Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of interpreting environments.  These are:  earth, water, fire, metal and wood.  Colors are also believed to represent these elements.  In the image above, a blazing red leaf gives the impression of fire. Its fire quality is emphasized even more by its triangular shape which is reminiscent of the tongue of a flame.


Brown garden stones, shown supporting one another above, represent the earth element, a symbol for wisdom.  Along with browns, yellows and oranges also allude to the nurturing earth.  Square shapes emphasize this element even further.  

green stems

The wood element, which symbolizes growth, is ubiquitous in a forest landscape where it is revealed in a variety of greens.  Yet, even near the ocean or in the city, green growth is not difficult to find.  The branch shape in the green floral stems above, found along a salt marsh, underlines the wood element in this image even further.

grey rainbow haven

White, grey, silver and gold reveal the metal element in nature.  Positively, this element can communicate strength and solidity.  Negatively, it can suggest sadness, as in the image above, of an overcast and rainy day at the beach.

Blue Flag Iris

Water can be represented in a landscape by a pond or stream, but also by the presence of cool, dark blues as shown in the Blue Flag Iris at left.  A bed of black tulips planted in the shape of a meander would be especially representational of the water element.

Like nature, color can be both simple and complex.  It never ceases to amaze or arouse wonder in those who seek to understand it better.

This post is written to provide further insight into the relationship between the elements and color in nature, as first introduced in my earlier post about a Midsummer’s Scavenger Hunt.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
~ Georgia O’Keefe

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I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine. 

From ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’  by William Shakespeare

It’s Midsummer’s Eve and time for a scavenger hunt!    Whether you live in the city or the country, here in Nova Scotia or on the other side of the planet, you’re welcome to participate.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to photograph five natural subjects that each captures the essence of one of the following elements.  Each one is characterized by one or several colors that may be substituted for a literal image of the element. 

  1. Fire (Red)
  2. Water (Blue or Black)
  3. Metal (White, Gold or Silver)
  4. Earth (Brown or yellow)
  5. Wood (Green)

Over the past five Saturdays, I’ve written a weekly post about some of the shapes that are found repeatedly in nature:  the meander, the spiral, the circle, the branch and the star.   Incorporating these shapes into your photographs is not necessary, but doing so will breathe more life into them. 

Here are some examples:


Fiery Red Poppy (Fire)

Red Poppy (Fire)

Trees Reflected in Birdbath (Water)

Trees Reflected in Birdbath (Water)

Star of Bethlehem (Metal)

White Star of Bethlehem Flowers (Metal)

Garden Snail on Leaf on Stone (Earth)

Garden Snail and Leaf on Stone (Earth)

Tree Trunks (Wood)

Tree Trunks (Wood)

The hunt will end on July 20th.  Your photos can be uploaded in a blog post (add a link to your post in the comments area) or they can be emailed to me for uploading on my blog.  Prizes will consist of prints from Drawing Conclusions.   Get outside and look at nature in a different way.  Have fun 🙂


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