Tag Archives: photos

Here are the impressive winning images of the British Ecological Society competition

Celebrating the beauty and diversity of the natural world, the British Ecological Society announced the winners of its 2020 “Capturing Ecology” photography competition. The images were taken by international ecologists and students from around the world and capture flora and fauna in creative settings.

Image credit: Alwin Hardenbol

Subjects range from a showdown between a roadrunner and rattlesnake, flamingos feasting at sunset, and a close-up of a humphead wrasse. The independent judging panel featured six highly respected members from different countries, including eminent ecologists and award-winning wildlife photographers.

The first prize was awarded to Alwin Hardenbol from the University of Eastern Finland and his shot of a Dalmatian pelican, the largest type of pelican and one threatened by the loss of its breeding colonies and aquatic habitats. In a statement, Hardenbol said he had to take thousands of pictures to get the perfect shot.

“I gave this image the title ‘The art of flight’ because of how impressive this bird’s wings appear in the picture, you can almost see the bird flying,” Hardenbol said. “Winning such a competition as an ecologist provides me with the opportunity to continue combining my research with my passion for nature photography.”

A biology student from Argentina, Pablo Javier Merlo, won the overall student category. He captured a Great Dusky Swift perched on the steep rocky walls of the Iguazú falls which limit between Brazil and Argentina. These birds, known as waterfall swifts, can be usually found flying among the Iguazú falls.

“The Iguazú National Park has remarkable importance since it protects a very diverse natural ecosystem, and the waterfall swift is an important icon of Iguazú and its diversity,” Merlo said in a statement. “I am very grateful to be selected as one of the winners and feel motivated to continue learning about photography.”

Image credit: Pablo Javier Merlo

A researcher at the University of Valencia, Roberto García Roa was the winner of “The Art of Ecology” category for this image of a Cope’s vine snake using its open mouth as a tactic to scare predators. This is a tactic used after being discovered, despite the fact they are considered harmless and having no venom.

Credit: Roberto García Roa

Upamanyu Chakraborty, a researcher at the Wildlife Institute of India, was one of the overall runner-ups with this impressive photo on weaver ants and their social behavior, taken in a backlit situation. They build their nests out of leaves and live a life high up in the canopy of the trees, off the ground where possible.

Image credit: Upamanyu Chakraborty

Pichaya Lertvilai, a researcher from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, was another overall runner-up winner this photo of the paralarvae of the California two-spot octopus hatching from their egg sacs. The egg yolks sustain them for a short period before they have to start hunting to survive.

Image credit: Pichaya Lertvilai

Peter Hudson, a researcher from Penn State University, was the winner of the dynamic ecosystems’ category. He took a photo of a roadrunner dancing around a western diamondback rattlesnake. The roadrunner keeps its wings out and feathers exposed with its body hidden to minimize the chances of death if the snake strikes.

Image credit: Peter Hudson

The ‘Up close and personal’ category winner was Michał Śmielak, from the University of New England, Australia, with his photo of this bearded leaf chameleon.

Image credits: Michał Śmielak

You can read more about the contest and see the other entries here.

World’s largest camera takes 3,200-megapixel photos

A group of researchers at Sandford University have taken the first 3,200-megapixel digital photos, the largest ever taken in a single shot, using an extraordinary array of imaging sensors. These will be part of the world’s largest digital camera that will be set up in a telescope in Chile once the camera is fully assembled.

The complete focal point. Credit SLAC

Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have been working since 2015 to manufacture the world’s largest and most powerful digital camera. The device will be the centerpiece of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory currently under construction in Chile, which will gather views of the night sky.

The project, known as the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST), features 189 individual imaging sensors that record 16 megapixels each.

“This achievement is among the most significant of the entire Rubin Observatory Project,” SLAC’s Steven Kahn, director of the observatory, said in a statement. “The completion of the LSST Camera focal plane and its successful tests is a huge victory by the camera team that will enable Rubin Observatory to deliver next-generation astronomical science.”

While a full-frame consumer camera has an imaging sensor of 1.4 inches (3.5 centimeters), the focal plane of this monster cameras reaches more than two feet (61 centimeters) in width. That would allow it to spot astronomical objects or capture a portion of the sky in great detail, the researchers argued, highlighting their potential once it is fully assembled.

During tests, the team at Sandford placed the focal plane in a cryostat in order to cool the sensors down to -101.1ºC (-150 Fahrenheit), which is the required operating temperature. Then they took pictures of broccoli, as it has intricate details, as well pictures of the team and of Vera C. Rubin, the scientist after which the observatory is named.

The resolution by the focal plane is high enough to spot a golf ball from 15 miles away. Credit SLAC

The images are actually so large that it would require 378 4K television screens to present one in full size, the researchers estimated, adding that the amazing resolution would allow spotting a golf ball from 24 kilometers (15 miles) away. The sensors will be able to spot objects 100 million times dimmer than those visible to the naked eye.

Although the researchers have passed the most important phases of the project, they still have more challenging work ahead in order to assemble the rest of the camera. They have to insert the cryostat with the focal plane into the camera body, as well as add the lenses, a shutter and a filter exchange system. The final testing would start mid-2021, they estimate.

“Nearing completion of the camera is very exciting, and we’re proud of playing such a central role in building this key component of Rubin Observatory,” said JoAnne Hewett, SLAC’s chief research officer, in a statement. “It’s a milestone that brings us a big step closer to exploring fundamental questions about the universe in ways we haven’t been able to before.”