This year’s Science Photographer of the Year is announced with a focus on climate change
The four winners of this year’s awards “will make us think more about the world around us”, says the Royal Photographic Society.
- Lucy Bourton
- 12 February 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
The Royal Photographic Society has announced the winners of its 2020 Science Photographer of the Year competition. Following a year where scientific endeavours have been discussed more than ever, whether it be related to the pandemic or efforts towards halting climate change, the winning photographs offer reminders of a year like no other.
Divided into different categories, the first image awarded for general science is Orthophoto of SS Thistlegorm by British photographer Simon Brown. Depicting a merchant navy ship which sunk in 1941, the entry is an intricate reconstruction which uses the photogrammetry imaging technique of 15,005 frames to create an image of the sunken ship. “When entering the competition I thought a single image derived from 15,000 separate frames might be interesting but never for one moment did I think winning was possible,” says Brown in the announcement.
The Young Science Photographer of the Year in this category was awarded to Katy Appleton for her piece Rainbow Shadow Selfie, in which the photographer “captures the beauty of a common phenomena” of light refracting into a rainbow. “It’s a very simple image,” says Appleton, “and I think that this shows that anyone can take part in science photography, no matter their age or how much equipment they have.”
In the climate change focused category – introduced to reflect the theme of Manchester Science Festival, where the works are being displayed – the winning image is awarded to Sue Flood. Flood’s entry is a startling photograph taken at the North Pole in which the landscape is melting beyond the frame, its location signalled by a 90 degrees north latitude sign. “Climate change is real and polar ice is melting at an alarming rate, posing a serious threat to wildlife and humans worldwide,” adds Flood. “I hope that many people will see the photograph and that it helps convey the need for urgent action on climate change – by individuals, companies and governments.”
The Under 18s entry awarded in this category goes to Raymond Zhang, selected for his image of Apollo’s Emissary. One of the largest solar power stations in Western China, Zhang’s image offers a stark contrast on the subject of climate change to Flood, yet is equally alarming. Also hoping his entry sounds the alarm for climate change, Zhang adds: “I am very excited about winning and hope that more young people like me can start to pay more attention to climate changes.”
These four awarded photographs have been selected from over 1000 entries to the competition, with submissions from both amateur and professional photographers. “This year’s selection documents our fragile planet, the human cost of global warming and actions being taken by communities around the world such as innovative irrigation methods and solar and turbine energy sources,” reads a release from The Royal Photographic Society. “They reveal incredible imaging techniques, from microscopic observations, medical examinations, fossil evacuations and kaleidoscopic patterns of refractions, oscillations and crystallisations.” Dr Michael Pritchard, director, education and public affairs at the Royal Photographic Society adds: “This year’s Science Photographer of the Year is more relevant than ever before in documenting how science and climate change are impacting all our lives. The selected images are striking and will make us think more about the world around us.”
Originally the selected works, including the four winners and 75 other selected submissions, were to be displayed at Manchester’s Science and Industry Museum. Instead, these entries will lead Manchester Science Festival, accessible online until 2 May.
Katy Appleton: Rainbow Shadow Selfie
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.