Science storytelling through photography

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Gold Award (Age 26 and Over): “Camping Stove Heat Plume” by Phred Petersen
Credit: Phred Petersen / International Images for Science 2016

Swirls and whirls atop a camp stove, tentacled polyps and Pacific jellyfish were subjects of the winning entries of the Royal Photographic Society’s International Images for Science.

The annual showcase covers any aspect of science from all fields, whether it be recording, documenting or capturing how science is seen and how it affects everyday life.

A selection panel picked 100 images from more than 2,500 entries to create the exhibition – the winners needed to be visually appealing but also have a science story to tell.

They range from the highly technical taken with expensive equipment through to images shot on smartphones.

Exhibition awards were handed out for the most outstanding images in the three categories: ages 26 and over, 18 to 25 and 17 and under.

Phred Petersen’s schlieren image of the heat plume from a liquid-fuelled camping stove reveals the invisible turbulence of rising hot air took out the gold in the 26 years and over category.

Schlieren photography allows us to see and record the refractive index differences between the hot air from the flame and the cooler ambient air in the surrounding environment and makes for a stunning image.

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Silver Award (Age 26 and Over): “Warrior of the Grassland” by Anup Deodhar
Credit: Anup Deodhar / International Images for Science 2016

Winning silver in the same category was Anup Deodhar’s striking image of a male fan-throated lizard (Sitana ponticeriana) protecting its territory.

This species is found on open ground and in sparse forests across the Indian subcontinent.

They have a thin flap of skin called a gular appendage between their throat and their abdomen. During the breeding season the males’ gular appendages develop startling colours. They expand and flash their colourful throats to attract females and to warn other males off their territory.

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Bronze Award (Age 26 and Over): “Bridge to Ininity” by Alex Class
Credit: Alex Class / International Images for Science 2016

Alex Class’s long exposure of a bridge took out the bronze in the 26 years and over category. The photograph draws the eye to the distance, towards the stars of the Milky Way and the infinity of space.

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Gold Award (Age 18-25): “Obelia Hydroid” by Teresa A Zgoda
Credit: Teresa A Zgoda / International Images for Science 2016

The winning image for ages 18 to 25 was taken by Teresa Zgoda. Her confocal microscope image of polyps from a colony of Obelia sp. hydrozoans shows two gastrozooids with tentacles used to capture passing plankton on which they feed and two gonozooids with reproductive medusae inside.

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Gold Award (17 and Under): “Swarm of Sea Nettles” by Jessica Chatburn
Credit: Jessica Chatburn / International Images for Science 2016

Gold was taken out by Jessica Chatburn in the 17 and under category with her underwater image of Pacific sea nettles, Chrysaora fuscescens.

These beautiful jellyfish occasionally grow to more than a metre in diameter in the wild. They feed as they drift, paralysing prey with stings from their 24 undulating maroon tentacles. For humans, their stings are often irritating, but rarely dangerous.

International Images for Science 2016 is currently open in London at The Crystal, Royal Victoria Docks until October 17 and will be touring various venues until June 2017. For more information on the touring exhibition visit the Royal Photographic Society website.

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