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British winner of prestigious global science photography prize

30 September 2018

British photographer Simon Wright has won the 2018 Global Physics Photowalk competition with a stunning image from the STFC Boulby Underground Laboratory deep under North Yorkshire.

Mr Wright, of Blyton in Lincolnshire, was awarded first place by an international panel of photographers. He also won the public online vote 3rd place with an image at the STFC Chilbolton Observatory in Hampshire. He said: “To say I am on cloud nine would be an understatement, I still keep saying ‘WOW!’. I’ve been taking photographs for as long as I can remember and I’m always looking for somewhere different to visit with my camera, so the opportunity to go into the STFC facilities was too good to pass up. Each location was completely different and I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the scientists and staff during the photowalks too.”

The competition involved thousands of images submitted by hundreds of photographers from 18 laboratories around the world. The Photowalk was designed to provide a rare glimpse into the people, engineering and technology behind some of the world’s most inspiring, amazing and sometimes peculiar science.

STFC’s five UK laboratories participated over the summer months, with the UK regional winners joining the global competition. These world-leading labs have been instrumental in discovering new insights into the formation of stars in distant galaxies, new drug treatments and new weather forecasting models produced on some of the world's fastest supercomputers.

Professional photographer Enrico Sacchetti was a member of the international judges’ panel. Commenting on Mr Wright’s winning image he said: “The lighting is what attracts you to this silent but powerful image. It’s great seeing her completely at ease in this lonely environment.”

Panel member Ale de la Puente, a Mexican artist and designer, also praised the winning image: “Alone where the unknown still lies, there is light, darkness, and a shadow cast that intriguingly take us deep back to the tunnel, beyond the excellence of technique the metaphor of pushing the horizon far away from light and our view is compelling.”

You can see the rest of the winners on the Interactions website.

About the photographs

Simon Wright – Boulby
Shining a light on Dark Matter - Deep under the North Yorkshire moors in the UK, physicists at the STFC Boulby Underground Laboratory play a lead role in the search to detect and understand the mysteries of Dark Matter. Just five per cent of the Universe is visible matter - stars, planets, galaxies, ourselves. The rest is called ‘Dark Matter’ for obvious reasons, and although not actually yet detected its existence has been inferred from numerous astrophysical observations taken over a vast range of distance and time scales. Located 1.1 kilometres underground in Europe’s deepest operating mine, the Boulby lab is almost entirely free of outside interference – allowing physicists a perfect “quiet” area to develop new techniques in the quest to detect and analyse Dark Matter. Photographer Simon Wright cleverly used a miner’s lamp to highlight the face of STFC’s Tamara Leitan as she scanned an information board at the Lab, thus avoiding the need for a flash which would have strobed off the safety equipment all workers and visitors must wear at the mine. Judges praised the photo’s composition and technical qualities.

Simon Wright – Chilbolton
Fluorescent lighting glows green in this image at the STFC Chilbolton Observatory - home to a wide range of science facilities covering research in atmospheric science, radio-communications, astronomy, space science and technology. Underground tunnels carry cabling to minimise interference with above-ground measurements.

Last updated: 02 October 2018


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