13 August 2018
The winning images of the STFC National Photowalk competition announced today offer behind-the-scenes snapshots of subjects ranging from deep underground science to futuristic technology. From quirky to artistic, the images showcase the United Kingdom’s long scientific heritage and current world-leading research status.
John Dawson is awarded the judges’ national prize for his clever image from within the instrument housing of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh’s telescope.
Inside the now-decommissioned instrument chamber of a 1930s-era 36-inch telescope at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, home to STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre. Once at the cutting edge of astronomy, the telescope is dwarfed by its modern successors with the latest under construction with a 39-metre mirror.
(Credit: STFC/John Dawson)
Martin Malies took the judges’ 2nd place with his perfectly framed and artistic image of the test accelerator at the Daresbury Laboratory.
This perfectly aligned image through the windows of a clean room mirrors the precise construction of the particle accelerator inside. Researchers, engineers and technicians at the STFC Daresbury Laboratory explore new ways of using particle accelerators in healthcare, security and other applications.
(Credit: STFC/Martin Malies)
Sharing the judge’s joint third place were Dave Hughes (also Boulby Underground Laboratory regional winner) for his deep underground image at the Boulby Laboratory, and Alan Ford for his composition of the data centre at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.
The layers of salt mined at Boulby were laid down 250 million years ago. STFC’s Boulby Underground Laboratory hosts physics experiments searching for Dark Matter, and is now also home to new studies into astrobiology – using the hostile environment to understand how life may have evolved on other planets.
(Credit: STFC/Dave Hughes)
Glimpsed through its protective grating, a tape storage robot gleams blue at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, which provides access to huge data sets for science ranging from particle physics to the environment.
(Credit: STFC/Alan Ford)
Jennifer Jackson’s quirky image of a reflection at the Daresbury Laboratory’s accelerator test complex was a clear online winner.
Say ‘hi!’. An inspection port on a high energy particle beam system at STFC Daresbury Laboratory, home to cutting-edge research into using the same techniques at the heart of the Large Hadron Collider to improve energy, security and healthcare.
(Credit: STFC/Jennifer Jackson)
Richard Small’s photograph of a detail from the Crawford Collection of historic astronomical books and manuscripts at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh took 2nd place.
STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh is a world-leading centre for ground- and space-based telescopes. It also houses a collection of rare, old astronomical books and artefacts including this medical text.
(Credit: STFC/Richard Small)
Joshua Sedgley took 3rd place with his detail of a detector at the Boulby Underground Laboratory.
Physicists design and build complex detectors, able to record the tiny, brief flash of light when a sub-atomic particles collide, thus releasing energy. Detectors such as this at the STFC Boulby Underground Laboratory may one day give tantalising hints as to the nature of Dark Matter.
(Credit: STFC/Joshua Sedgley)
Chilbolton Observatory regional winner: Jean Hoyle
Daresbury Laboratory regional winner: Paul Greenhalgh
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory regional winner: Nick Owen
UK Astronomy Technology Centre regional winner: Alan Thomson
The winning entries will be displayed at the Association of Science and Discovery Centres’ national conference in Manchester in October, and at the STFC laboratories and online. The images are free to use for non-commercial purposes provided credit is given to STFC and the photographer.
Competition organiser and national judge Terry O’Connor of STFC said the panel found it difficult to separate the final four images.
“The judges felt that both first and second placed photos show enormous creative talent, and tell equally compelling stories. They both evoke strong emotions of discovery and exploration, and choosing the winner was a tough ask – and we just couldn’t separate the joint 3rd placed winners,” he said.
STFC Director Dr Barbara Ghinelli, and particle physicist Dr Clara Nellist, both described John Dawson’s national winner as invoking “exploration and inspiration” as if the viewer was inside a space capsule.
Clara said: "I particularly liked the contrast between the rustic interior of the telescope, giving a sense of the long history of science in the UK, and the bright white and blue structures visible outside, which to me represented a voyage into the future."
Professional photographer Max Alexander was a member of the national judging panel. He described the 2nd placed photo by Martin Malies as three beautifully framed pieces of art meeting science.
“The three dimensional artwork seems to float in this space, while at the same time providing a mesmerising window into the workings at STFC’s world-class facilities. The photograph creates a quietly reflective atmosphere which holds the viewer’s attention,” Max said.
The national judges also agreed a Highly Commended citation for Timothy Mills image of a staircase at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
Art meets science in this image of an emergency staircase at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
(Credit: STFC/Timothy Mills)
Gary Evans, from the Royal Photographic Society, described the work as beautifully artistic.
“It doesn’t talk about the science, but the starkness and composition remind me of the early work by Don McCullin. I’d be delighted to have that photo hanging on my wall at home,” Gary said.
Around 200 photographers participated in the competition which was held across the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s five laboratories.
Dr Andrew Taylor, Executive Director National Laboratories, said: “This year’s STFC Photowalks have been a tremendous success, particularly with the addition of the Boulby Underground Laboratory for the first time. All the entries have provided a fresh and exciting snapshot of the incredible science that goes on at our sites. Sincere congratulations to our national winners – their photos will fire imaginations and also raise the profile of the fascinating work here at STFC.”
The local winners from each laboratory site will automatically enter the 2018 Global Physics Photowalk organised by the Interactions Collaboration of leading physics laboratories and opening 27 August. A global online audience will select winners from participating labs from the UK, Europe, North America and China.