Four Elements Photography Competition This project required us to search for an online competition of our digital media preference and follow the brief. I chose a digital art & photography competition by 'Exhibition Without Walls'. The theme was the four elements. See the brief below: ‘The ancient Greeks believed that everything was made up of four elements: earth, water, air and fire. This competition is about submissions that speak to one or all of these elements using any type of subject matter and any style of photography or digital art’ My final outcome
The design process Before I made any decisions of what direction to go in I had a look at some of the pieces of work that had been entered into the competition.
“Fiery” by Christophe Kiciak
“Air” by Richard Flaskegaard
“Tsunami” by Vincenzo Corrado Following this I did some research about the Greek philosophy behind the four elements. Empedocles, a fifth century Greek philosopher and scientist, believed that all matter was made up of four ‘roots’: fire, water, earth and air. He described fire and air as ‘outwardly reaching elements’ and water and earth being the elements that turn ‘inward and downward’. I love this concept so was really interested in replicating it in my work. After this I researched what historical artists did in their work for the four elements. I came across the Flemish artist Joachim Beuckelaer who painted a series of pieces based upon the four elements between the years 1569 and 1570.
I liked Beuckelaer’s innovative idea to illustrate each element with something that symbolises them rather than the literal representation of the elements themselves. I also liked how each of his pieces has a visible connection between them. I thought that with this concept in mind, I could use it well when creating my own pieces. Next I created some mood boards to explore what I could do photographically for each element.
From all my research I concluded what I wanted to do for each element. For 'Air' I wanted balloons, for 'Earth' I wanted to capture the undergrowth of woods, for 'Fire' I wanted to photograph sparklers and fireworks and lastly for 'Water' I wanted to capture splashing water and also water droplets in cupped hands. I chose these so I could try and replicate Empedocles description that fire and air are ‘outwardly reaching elements’ and water and earth being the elements that turn ‘inward and downward’. After deciding what I wanted, I proceeded with the photo shoots. See the PDF links below:
Air Air photo shoot contact sheet Earth Earth photo shoot contact sheet 1 Earth photo shoot contact sheet 2
Fire photo shoot contact sheet 1 Fire photo shoot contact sheet 2 Fire photo shoot contact sheet 3 Water Water photo shoot contact sheet 1 Water photo shoot contact sheet 2
After much deliberation I decided upon my final four photographs Here they are in their original, unedited state
Canon EOS 70D F-stop: f/5.6 Exposure time: 1/1000 sec IOS speed: IOS-100 Focal length: 35mm
Canon EOS 70D F-stop: f/2.8 Exposure time: 1/40 sec IOS speed: IOS-250 Focal length: 24mm
NIKON D90 F-stop: f/11 Exposure time: 5 sec IOS speed: IOS-800 Focal length: 24mm
Canon EOS 70D F-stop: f/7.1 Exposure time: 1/1000 sec IOS speed: IOS-3200 Focal length: 135mm
I spent a long time thinking about how I was going to display my final outcome. I originally thought about just having each photograph displayed at their original aspect ratio size, individually placed on the wall. I liked this idea but wanted it to be clear the photographs belonged together. Another thought I had, when I was struggling to decide on a single image for each element, was to create one poster for each element made up of many photographs depicting that element. Though this would have solved my conundrum of deciding a single image for each element, I thought the final outcome would have looked a little mismatched and I wanted to achieve a slick professional look. I then came up with the idea of a four paneled piece of work. They would be displayed altogether but would also look perfectly fine individually making each panel a piece of art in it's own right.
I experimented on Photoshop to get an idea of what a four paneled piece would look like
I disliked the vertical panel idea so I decided upon horizontal panels My aim for this project was to produce photographs that didn't need lots of editing to look professional. I feel like I managed to achieve this as I have only had to make small adjustments The first edit I made to all the images was cropping them to all the same size. To do this I decided on the size and then saved the size so I could be accurate on the following images
I was happy with 'Air' and 'Earth' with just the crop. For 'Fire' I simply put the contrast up to 100% to get rid of the slightly illuminated faces in the background...
... and for 'Water' I again simply changed the hue to a blue colour to make the image stand out more
The final outcome - again
I am very pleased with the outcome. I feel I have achieved everything I set out to in the beginning. These images will be displayed outside the Digital Media Design studio at The University of Winchester soon. Back to top