The shortlist for the Royal Society of Biology 2017 Photography Competition has just been announced, and we’re excited to report that Dr. James Patterson, Biologist and Head of the Akkadium School of Natural Sciences, is among the 11 finalists selected for the Photographer of the Year Award.
The theme of this year’s contest is ‘The Hidden World’, and amateur photographers were invited to uncover the secrets and surpises hidden within the fascinating world of biology. James’s beautiful and intriguing photograph caught the eyes of the judges from over 600 entries.
Titled A World Just Under Our Skin, the image is a micrograph of a cat’s developing hair follicle, captured from an historical slide that James, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, discovered in the collections of his teaching lab.
A World Just Under The Skin: James Patterson’s shortlisted entry in the Royal Society of Biology Photography Competition. Photo: J. Patterson.
The slide itself was prepared decades ago by Flatters and Garnett Limited, a Manchester-based company that produced scientific instruments between 1901 and 1967. The stain they applied to it, probably in the 1950s, is still effective today in depicting the specimen in a luminous array of blue and orange hues.
Viewed under a microscope, the tissue appears as a glowing orb that could easily be mistaken for a planet – uncannily like some unknown gas giant – conjuring up a vivid impression of a truly hidden world.
The original slide of the biological tissue specimen from which James produced his image of a hidden world. Photo: J. Patterson.
James captured the image on an iPhone, merging the laboratory work of a past scientific era with today’s digital technology to produce his final ethereal vision.
“The big surprise is how easy it was for me to capture an image like this with fairly basic equipment – a simple microscope and a smartphone” says James. “I hope that having my photo shortlisted by the Royal Society of Biology reinforces the message that, just as photography is for everyone these days, biology can be for everyone too!”
The winners of the Photography Competition will be announced by the Royal Society of Biology at the Annual Awards Ceremony on Thursday 12th October, as part of Biology Week.
Meanwhile, you can view all of the shortlisted entries in the online competiton gallery.