Happy Earth Day, PopPhotographers! This week, we asked you to submit your best images of the elements (earth, wind, fire, and water) to celebrate and appreciate the beauty of our planet. The winners of this week’s challenge brought us to lakeside idylls, awe-inspiring cliffs and mountains, and the bellicose nature of fire. 

Today, let’s appreciate the beauty the Earth has to offer—and think about ways we can be kinder to the place we all call home. Whether you’re out volunteering for an environmental cause or are kicking back in the serenity of nature, we hope these images inspire and remind you that the earth is a pretty cool place to be. Let’s take care of it.  

If you want to submit an image for consideration, check the website, follow us on Instagram, or join our (NEW) Facebook group where we share the weekly theme on Mondays. 

Lead image by Myke Odoño. See more work here.

Prescribed prairie burn

a firefighter walks across prairie land against a wall of flames during a prescribed burn
A firefighter walks against a wall of flames. Dave Lemoine

Dave Lemoine’s image reminds us to never jump to conclusions. On first glance, I assumed (being from California) that this was a wildfire photo. However, his caption explained that this was, rather, a prescribed burn taking place in Missouri. Prescribed burns are a way of managing lands to reduce the potential for flammability later in fire season and can be quite effective. Lemoine’s photo conveys intensity, heat, and urgency. At once, the flames are a prelude of what could come should we not properly manage the land, and a call to act quickly before fire season sets a new record. 

Waterfront Inn sunrise 

orange, purple, and pink sunrise on a lake with two boats on the water in florida
Waterfront Inn, The Villages, Florida. Jill Dehlin

Jill Dehlin takes us to a peaceful summer morning, when the sky is a sherbet orange and pink and somehow casts its serene glow on the lake, too. It’s the lonely two boats out on the water that spoke to me, an invitation to wade out in solitude to enjoy the spectacular beauty found in this small corner of the world.

Grazer Bergland

rolling hills of Graz, Austria
See more of W. Schandor’s work here. W. Schandor

W. Schandor captures the peaceful grandeur of the rolling hills just north of Graz, Austria, which instantly made me think of “The Sound of Music.” After all, what better way to appreciate the beauty of nature than to run among the mountains and hills, gulping lungfuls of fresh air in the sunshine? Singing at the top of my lungs would only be a plus.

Morning at Grandview

panorama of a valley at sunset. soft clouds blanket the trees
See more of Hal’s work here. Hal Chen

Wind is a difficult subject to capture, but that’s part of the fun. How do you prove something’s existence when no one can see it? Hal Chen’s photograph of this spectacular valley made me feel the gentle wind on my face as it pushed the clouds along into the setting sun.

Portland Japanese Garden 

a large tree with spiraling branches at the Portland Japanese Garden
See more of Flickr user jayqzhu’s work here. jayqzhu

Trees always draw me in because of the soothing, swirling lines of their branches. Generous, lush, and impressive in the spring and summer, they are also melancholically poetic in the winter when stripped bare. Flickr user jayqzhu’s photograph asks us to submit to the glory and wonder of a venerable tree whose every twist, turn, and gnarled knot tells a story. 

Swiss Alps 

swiss alps at under the fog in the winter with snow
See more of Antonio’s work here. Antonio Valente

There’s no denying it: The Alps will always command a mysterious majesty that no words can explain. Antonio Valente brings us to an icy, forbidden wonderland to marvel. “I had to wait a long time before the fog allowed a glimpse of the mountain,” he wrote in the PopPhoto of the Day Facebook group. “Certainly my eyes have been rewarded!”