Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition 2018

Winners Photo Competition (2018) by The Royal Society PublishingThe Royal Society


Three diamonds in the sky (2013-11-03) by Petr HoralekThe Royal Society


Three Diamonds in the sky.

'A story about total solar eclipse on November 3rd, 2013. When the eclipse started (on left side of the image), there was a two part diamond ring, which was unusual. It is caused by the angle diameter of the Moon in this case of hybrid eclipse. The magnitude of coverage from Pakwero, Uganda, was just 1,00259, which means the Sun's photosphere could easily shine above two different locations of lunar limb at the same time. The next hybrid solar eclipse will occur in April 2023 over western Australia and Indonesia.'

Petr Horálek

The Orion Nebula (2017-11/2017-12) by Bernard MillerThe Royal Society

The Orion Nebula.

'This is an image of the Orion Nebula processed with a 6-filter color mapping process. This process combines data from six different filters (Red, Green, Blue, Ha, SII, and OIII). The resulting image contains detail and color not usually seen with normal RGB processing. This image is a combination of over 39 hours of exposure taken with a CDK-17 telescope and FLI Pl16803 camera over a span of six weeks in November and December of 2017.'

Bernard Miller


Curiosity (2018-04) by Franziska SchmidtThe Royal Society


'In April 2018, I spent 7 nights working as a visiting astronomer at the James Clerk Maxwell telescope on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. During that time, the weather ranged from "quite unpleasant" to "evacuating the summit in the middle of the night due to snow storms". Hopes weren't high for my last night which coincided with this year's VLBI run (a collaboration of almost a dozen telescopes all over the world pointing towards the same sources in the sky). However, shortly after arriving for our shift, the sky cleared and we were rewarded with an absolutely breathtaking view as the sun went down behind the busy SMA telescopes, one of which is shown in the photograph.'

Franziska Schmidt

Honourable mention

Eclipsed Moon with Mars in the starry night above Rocca Calascio castle ruins (2018-07-27) by Gianluca Li CausiThe Royal Society

Eclipsed Moon with Mars in the starry night above Rocca Calascio castle ruins.

'The phase of totality of the lunar eclipse of 27 July 2018 about to finish in the night sky crowded with stars above the ruins of Rocca Calascio castle, in Italy. The Earth's atmosphere refracts the long wavelength part of the sunlight painting the Moon in a bright orange color which compares to the red shining Mars, next to its opposition phase in respect to our planet.
To shoot this photograph I carried my equatorial mount on top of the mountain for tracking the sidereal motion, so avoiding the motion-blur caused by Earth rotation during the 10 seconds exposure time. I adopted the common processing suited for astronomical nightscapes of this kind, i.e. shoot a second 10 seconds non-tracked photo for the ground and the castle, and a short 1 second shot for the Moon's surface, and combine the images via masked stacking. Usual contrast enhancement of the stars is finally applied to mimic the eye's perception.'

Gianluca Li Causi

Honourable mention

Magic night (2018) by Lorenzo RaggaziThe Royal Society

Magic Night.

'Every-night life in Northern Norway. Since I moved to the world's northern most university, almost every night I admire the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis.
This photo was taken in Ersfjordbotn on the island of Kvaløya near Tromsø, during a clear night at the end of twilight.
The Northern Lights is a luminous and multicolored manifestation that occurs in the Earth's atmosphere, typically near the Arctic and Antarctic polar latitudes. The Aurora is generated by the interaction of swarms of charged particles (the solar wind) with the gases that make up the ionosphere, the most external part of the earth's atmosphere, which extends between 85 and 600 km altitude. The solar wind is a current of charged particles that, with varying intensity, is radiated by the sun in space. 95% of the solar wind consists of protons and electrons, in more or less equal parts. The remaining 5% is helium. Its speed ranges between 300 and 900 km/s (therefore between 330 and 1000 times slower than light). To reach the planet Earth (the distance from the Earth to the Sun is 149.6 million km) the solar wind takes between 2 and 9 days.'

Lorenzo Ragazzi

Honourable mention

Strawberry Moon Rising Over Santa Barbara (2018) by Iair ArcaviThe Royal Society

Strawberry Moon Rising Over Santa Barbara.

'The Strawberry Moon, the full moon of June, rises over Santa Barbara, CA. The name comes from the Algonquin tribes of Native Americans, who used this full moon as their sign to harvest ripening strawberries. Of course, astronomically, it's pretty much the same as every other full moon occurring about once every 29.5 days when the moon is opposite the sun from the Earth's point of view, and is thus fully illuminated, rising when the sun sets and setting when the sun rises. Even though the full moon appears larger when close to the horizon, this is merely an optical illusion (which is not fully understood).'

Iair Arcavi

Honourable mention

Winners Photo Competition (2018) by The Royal Society PublishingThe Royal Society


Courting Royals: two Royal Terns in courtship display (2018) by Kristian BellThe Royal Society

Courting Royals: two Royal Terns in courtship display.

'Another beautiful morning on a beautiful beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida seemed to prompt these two Royal Terns to commence an intricate courtship dance. Just out of shot are another 20 or so terns sitting idly by and watching the loved-up pair in action.'

Kristian Bell

Category winner

Baby on Board (2018) by Anton SorokinThe Royal Society

Baby on Board.

'Parental care is a behavior typically associated with birds and mammals, it is comparatively rare in other taxa such as amphibians. However some amphibians are very devoted parents, the poison frogs (Dendrobatidae) are a great example. This species is the mimic poison frog (Ranitomeya imitator), which exhibits obligate biparental care. Here, the male transports the tadpole on his back, he will soon deposit it in a small pool of water. Afterwards, he will check back and when the tadpole signals hunger, the male fetch the female who will lay an unfertilized egg for the tadpole to eat in a behavior called trophic egg feeding. This will continue until the tadpole metamorphoses into a froglet. This high level of parental care means that the parent frogs must both be wholly invested in raising their offspring, which may be why this is currently the only species of frog known to be genetically monogamous.'

Anton Sorokin


Army Ant Intruder (2018) by Philipp HoenleThe Royal Society

Army Ant Intruder.

'This picture was taken during an army ant (Eciton burchellii) nest migration. Army ants have a nomadic lifestyle, and change their nest position frequently. This allows an outside observer to get a unique view of all that is found within the colony. Army ants rely on colony fission to reproduce, and just before they split their nest, they raise broods of males and queens instead of workers. The sexual brood can be distinguished from normal worker brood by it's uniform large size in the later developmental stages. Shown in the picture is such a sexual larva. It's hard to find nests that are in this reproductive stage, and in this case I spent 2 months searching in the Ecuadorian rainforest until I stumbled upon it. Army ants colonies contain a big variety of associated organisms, such as beetles, flies and silverfish. This is because the nest is a secure shelter with an abundance of food. The beetle on the larva (Cephaloplectus mus) is such an army ant parasite. It does not get attacked because it is chemically camouflaged, it essentially has the same colony odor as the army ants. During colony migration, it needs to find a way to follow the ants to their new nest. This individual choose to sit on the larva, and is getting directly transported to the new spot.'

Philipp Hoenle

Honourable mention

Space Invaders (2015) by Nuno RodriguesThe Royal Society

Space Invaders.

'The Henslow's swimming crab, Polybius henslowii, can form dense groups of several individuals near the sea surface, especially during the summer season. This species used to be targeted by fishermen in the 19th century and used as a fertilizer in agriculture. The decline in their populations and the development of industrial fertilizers reduced fishing until it ceased in the 20th century. It is now an important prey for commercially important fish species like the sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, and the Gilthead, Sparus aurata, but also marine birds and dolphins. On a summer's morning of 2015 though, I observed something rare: the waters around Berlenga island, Portugal, were swamped with these animals, which extended as far as the eye could see. Luckily, I had my camera! I've been working in this region for many years, particularly trying to understand how a Marine Protected Area can affect the fish community composition. On this day I witnessed something totally new to me, which reminds me how little we still know about our ocean. The photo has been slightly processed by lowering colour temperature, increasing brightness and contrast and reducing saturation.'

Nuno Rodrigues

Honourable mention

Plant trees and stop disease emergence (2018) by Peter J. Hudson FRSThe Royal Society

Plant trees and stop disease emergence.

'In recent years, bats have appeared as disease reservoirs of significant emerging diseases, such as Ebola, Hendra, Nipah, SARS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. The pressing issue we face in protecting people and livestock from these novel infections, is why does spillover (the passage of a virus from wildlife to humans) occur and why is it increasing? We have been studying Hendra virus on the east coast of Australia where the virus passes from flying foxes to horses and then to humans who suffer a 60% case fatality rate. Our recent work is now showing that spillover occurs in winter when the winter flowering eucalyptus trees fail to produce nectar, and this situation has been exacerbated by deforestation. In these harsh conditions, the starving bats move away from their traditional camps and seek fruit trees planted in horse paddocks where they infect the horses. There has been much controversy in Australia with attempts to burn down bat roosts and kill the bats. From our research it would appear the solution is to rewild parts of Australia by planting 5 species of tree at specific locations so the bats do not starve and spillover will cease. This will also retain bats and the integrity of the ecosystem. If we extrapolate out our hypothesis then we may obtain a deeper understanding of how Ebola and other infections emerge following deforestation in west Africa, often associated with palm oil plantations. Plant trees and protect people from disease.'

Peter J. Hudson FRS

Honourable mention

Daddy Day Care (2018) by Lindsey DoughertyThe Royal Society

Daddy Day Care.

'This yellow-headed jawfish (Opistognathus aurifrons) is a paternal mouthbrooder practicing buccal incubation. While teaching a marine biology course in Little Cayman, I spent about 15 minutes of the dive underwater at a depth of 45' trying to get close enough to get this shot (while not scaring him back into his burrow). My goal was to capture an image of the eggs that are developing within his mouth, so I was thrilled when I was able to capture the eggs' eyespots. I watched him move the eggs around to aerate them with oxygenated water. These jawfish only grow up to 10cm, and it is relatively rare to find one with eggs, so I was quite happy to be able to witness this amazing feat. What a good dad!'

Lindsey Dougherty

Honourable mention

Winners Photo Competition (2018) by The Royal Society PublishingThe Royal Society

Earth Science

Cappadocia, Turkey: Born of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water (2018) by Katharine CashmanThe Royal Society

Cappadocia, Turkey: Born of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water.

'This photograph highlights the volcanic landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey. It was created by a volcanic eruption (fire), is made of volcanic ash (earth), and has been sculpted by wind (air) and water. The view is from a balloon.'

Katharine Cashman

Category winner

Colossus (2018) by Alejandro Roman GonzalesThe Royal Society


'Shadow the mount Teide in Tenerife, Canary Islands, at sunset towering over Slooh Teide observatory. The sea of clouds shrouded the landscape at lower altitude, hiding neighbouring islands and the bustling activity of the coast of Tenerife. The colours in the sky are due to the reflection of the different wavelength of the white light as the sun sinks below the horizon. Also when a remarkable topographic feature, such as Mount Teide, blocks the fleeting rays of the sunset, this casts a shadow into the tinted atmosphere.'

Alejandro Roman Gonzales

Honourable mention

Cloud inversion on the Arran granite (2018) by Alex CopleyThe Royal Society

Cloud inversion on the Arran granite.

'Part of the island of Arran (Scotland) is made of mechanically strong granite, so forms these rugged peaks. The mountains in turn affect the local weather and climate, an instance of which is seen here by the flow of clouds early on a spring morning. I photographed this view whilst teaching on an undergrad field trip, when a cold and damp run unexpectedly took me above the clouds into bright sunshine and fantastic views. I often think of that day when setting off on a run in miserable weather, hoping that the same might happen again, but it rarely does! To me, this photo is a miniature snapshot of the interplay between the solid Earth, the atmosphere, and the hydrosphere, and makes me think about the global reach and implications of these types of interaction.'

Alex Copley

Honourable mention

Facing the fate (2018) by Enaut IzagirreThe Royal Society

Facing the fate.

'Perito Moreno glacier is one of the most famous glaciers in the world. A bunch of tourists travel everyday from El Calafate to the Magallanes peninsula to be astonished by the incredible glacier front that dams the Lago Argentino, isolating the sediment-rich Brazo Rico. However, every few years an incredible dam-break event makes worldwide news. But, what are the future perspectives for it? Having a steady (not advancing) frontal position and remaining roughly balanced, future climate change scenarios don't look really promising for it.'

Enaut Izagirre

Honourable mention

The Maligne Range from Jasper, Canada (2017) by David RippinThe Royal Society

The Maligne Range from Jasper, Canada.

'I am a glaciologist and in 2017 I was in Canada on research sabbatical, working on the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield in the Rocky Mountains. This image was shot in Jasper National Park on my first to the Rockies, just a few weeks into my sabbatical. The landscape here is dominated by mountains and forests, and in the early season, a lot of snow. It is undeniably beautiful and awe-inspiring.'

David Rippin

Honourable mention

Winners Photo Competition (2018) by The Royal Society PublishingThe Royal Society

Ecology and Environmental Science

Waxwing and Rowan berries in the snow (2018) by Alwin HardenbolThe Royal Society

Waxwing and Rowan berries in the snow.

'Bohemian waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) lust after Rowan berries (Sorbus aucuparia) in winter. They fly around in big flocks looking for the most delicious berries but they are picky eaters and do not just go for any berry. They skip certain trees and postpone eating the berries in others for later. Eventually, however, they did come to the trees right outside my office in Finland.'

Alwin Hardbol

Category winner

Mars (2018) by Roberto Garcia RoaThe Royal Society


'When I observed these oryx resting in an arid place of Namibia, my mind immediately saw a group of antelopes on the surface of Mars. The landscape was arid and red and it evoked a distant planet where we were invaders. They were powerful animals that showed a peaceful moment in a hard place. The ability of this species to resist hard environmental conditions is really surprising and deserved my attention, so I decided to immortalise the moment in my brain. My photography remembers.'

Roberto Garcia Roa


Golden Kingdom (2018-04) by Loren MerrillThe Royal Society

Golden Kingdom.

'A Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) emerges from the golden flowers of a Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas) in early April. I took this picture while birding in an urban park in Urbana, Illinois, USA. This park is a magnet for spring and fall migrants; as they fly over they are drawn to the small patch of forest and shrubland in an otherwise agricultural and developed landscape. Part of my research program focuses on how landscape composition impacts the health and condition of wild birds, and thus takes me to many of these habitat islands to study the physiology and behavior of nestling and adult birds.'

Loren Merrill

Honourable mention

Excuse Me (2018) by Casey YoungfleshThe Royal Society

Excuse Me.

'A Gentoo penguin glares at the camera after emerging from the water near a breeding colony on the Antarctic Peninsula. The beads of water on the bird illustrate the waterproofing and insulation provided by its dense oily feathers. Adaptations such as these are crucial for surviving the icy waters of the Antarctic. I was struck by the quizzical look this penguin seemed to give me; a reminder that I did not belong in this place without adaptations such as these.'

Casey Youngflesh

Honourable mention

Peek A Boo (2018) by David MatthewsThe Royal Society


'As I walked along the canopy walkway in Taman Negara, Malaysia, I heard a rustling in the palm fronds to my left. I began to wonder what I would find up in this 90 ft. rainforest canopy, possibly a bird or a monkey, when this female green crested lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) popped its head over the palm frond. You can see in this picture how this arboreal species has adapted to life in the trees. Its long slender fingers allow it to grip the leaves and its thin body reduces the weight that it needs to lift as it climbs around. It was really interesting to return to the ground and see other lizards, noticing how divergent these species were despite living in such close proximity.'

David Matthews

Honourable mention

A Whole New Ecosystem (2018) by Vikash SinghThe Royal Society

A Whole New Ecosystem.

'The photo depicts a leaf holding drops of morning dew on its surface. If observed closely, the leaf's tiny hair-like structures can be seen, in a manner which provides protection to the holding water from insects and other bugs. Also, very clearly demonstrated is the surface tension of water, which provides enough force for the droplets to be spherical. As a microbiologist, I would try to isolate and study the micro-organisms/bacteria present on such an ecosystem, which is very diverse when compared to that present on a normal leaf. Also, I would be keen to study the benefits such moist micro-environment provide to the leaf . Hence the title " A whole new ecosystem".'

Vikash Singh

Honourable mention

Winners Photo Competition (2018) by The Royal Society PublishingThe Royal Society


Going round and round (2018) by Leandro LemgruberThe Royal Society

Going round and round.

'Within the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, scientists and clinical investigators develop different lines of research, from characterising the immune system to understanding the cell biology of parasites, viruses and bacteria and their relationship with their hosts; aiming to develop new therapies and treatments. One research group (Maizels Laboratory) studies the exploitation of the host's own immune system by helminth parasites and how that could lead to minimising the risk of autoimmunity. The group makes use of a model rodent parasite - Heligmosomoides polygyrus. The adult parasite inhabits the intestinal space of its host and coils closely around the intestinal villi. Here we show the striated external surface of this helminth - the cuticle - observed by scanning electron microscopy.'

Leandro Lemgruber

Category winner

Broken Window (2018) by Hamed RajabiThe Royal Society

Broken Window.

'Wings experience substantial accidental collisions during the life span of a flying insects. Such collisions often result in irreversible wing damage and, therefore, could significantly influence insect flight ability. In order to investigate the material composition of wings of the dragonfly Acisoma panorpoides, I used confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). During the scan, I observed no autofluorescence from wing membrane. This was very odd, because membranes are known for their blue autofluorescence when subject to laser light. Interestingly, after the scan I found out that wing membranes were all broken.'

Hamed Rajabi


Energy reserves in the Arctic (2018) by Inês LealThe Royal Society

Energy reserves in the Arctic.

'Invertebrate larvae face many challenges before settling on hard ground. They must rely on their energy reserves to sustain the dramatic process of metamorphosis. This photograph shows conspicuous lipid droplets (energy storage) within a late larval stage of an Arctic balanid barnacle. Although barnacles are foundation species worldwide, their tiny size means that they are often overlooked. Here, we highlight the fascinating larval ecology of these invertebrates, that still have secrets to yield.'

Inês Leal

Honourable mention

Meeting Place (2018) by Charlotte JohnsonThe Royal Society

Meeting Place.

'Meeting Place is the by-product of a collaboration between myself (Science) and Arts. As a microscopist, I was asked to create crystals and record videos of them forming for an upcoming art installation. The hardest part of this project was creating a solution which would crystallize using a trigger, and at a concentration low enough to produce crystals which formed slowly enough to be recorded in real time. My progress was slow until I realized temperature greatly affected crystal formation. My moving the lab-prepared crystal solution into the much cooler microscope room was causing spontaneous crystal formation! Eventually it all came together and I was able to capture this image of several crystals having reached the same destination. Viewed under polarized light at x20 magnification, the crystals naturally reflected the stunning colors seen here which was made even more striking against the black background.'

Charlotte Johnson

Honourable mention

Sunlit bamboo forest – bones and pigment cells in the adult zebrafish fin (2018) by Ivo de VosThe Royal Society

A sunlit bamboo forest – bones and pigment cells in the adult zebrafish fin.

'While studying zebrafish (Danio rerio) development, we were intrigued by the striking colours and structure of its fins. This image depicts individual pigment cells (black melanocytes and yellow xanthophores), that give the fish its characteristic zebra stripes. Together with the underlying segmented bones, this picture reminded us of a sunlit bamboo forest, fitting with the fishes’ tropical habitat.'

Ivo de Vos

Honourable mention

Wings of vortexes pairs (2018) by Valeska ZambraThe Royal Society

Wings of vortexes pairs.

'When an oscillatory voltage is applied to a thin film of nematic liquid crystal with negative electric constant and with homeotropic anchoring, the balance between the electric force and the elastic force of the molecules allow the creations of topological defects called vortexes. There are vortexes with positive topological charge and vortexes with negative topological charge. Vortexes with opposite charge are attracted. In this image, we observe many pairs of vortexes that interact with each other. I research vortexes in liquid crystals. When I was taking measures in the laboratory I observed this image, I was impressed and I fell in love with how matter is able to behave.'

Valeska Zambra

Honourable mention

Credits: Story

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