Explore The Elements – Travel Photoblogging Challenge

The Explore the Elements photo contest sponsored by Thomas Cook Travel seeks to find images that best represent the four elements of: earth, water, fire and air. They gave some very basic guidelines, but left plenty of room for individual interpretation. The images are to be judged by a panel of leading travel experts who will come together to select the best photos in late March. You can follow the contest at http://www.thomascook.com/blog/holiday-competitions-deals/explore-the-elements/ or #ExploreTheElements.

For my selections I tried to choose images that were simple structurally but clearly depicted each element. I wanted images that were minimally processed and from a selection of recent work. What seems like a simple exercise actually turned out to be quite difficult. I made some agonizing choices and rejected some of my favorites. Choosing four from the thousands of images I have made since starting the retirement adventure in Asia was a challenge.

AIR

AIR

On my first day in Bhutan I had the opportunity to visit Dochu La, a beautiful high mountain pass with panoramic views of the Himalayan Mountains. At first it felt like we were the only people enduring the cold and wind of this February morning, but after a few minutes I noticed that there was laughter among the prayer flags and stupas. After searching for the source I found three young monks playfully utilizing a trick of the terrain to create the impressions of flight. But it felt like more than an illusion as the ecstatic monks seemed to, slower then you would expect, float magically on a river of air.

EARTH

EARTH

 

After sorting through dozens of photos that made for picturesque scenes, I couldn’t think of an image of mine that better depicts “Earth” than this one I made of children’s feet in a Kamu Hill Tribe village in northern Laos. It may not be the most traditionally beautiful of photos, but I couldn’t think of a better way to portray the element and how intimate it is to our species. The way the colors of the earth covered everything everything in the village reminded me of from where we came.

FIRE

FIRE

I chose this image of an oil lamp being refilled at Doi Suthep in northern Thailand as my Fire image, because it displays an elemental serene energy and spirit. Identical lamps in the background suggest the fire is infinite and the refilling of the chalice displays intention.

WATER

WATER

I chose this photo to represent Water, partially because of how wet I had to get to make the image. I was walking along the river in Viang Veng, Laos on an unsettled morning, which was threatening rain, when I came upon this scene of a fisherman working to lift his catch from the river. I had to tromp through mud and water up to my knees, and endure the laughter of boatmen, before I eventually found the exact angle I wanted. On this particular morning the fisherman was pulling little more than droplets from the rapidly flowing waters but there was almost a Zen feel to his work. Catching fish seemed secondary.

As part of the contest you are supposed to choose other travel bloggers who work you admire. This too was a difficult choice, but here are my nominations:

Allan of live-less-ordinary.com

Chris of oneweirdglobe.com

Dennis of seetheworldinmyeyes.com

Madeleine of thevisualvoyage.com

Stephanie of thetravelchica.com

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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