Jun 8

This year the Society of Biology’s amateur photography competition is inviting budding photographers to think creatively about forests, grasslands, deserts and watery environments, fitting in with the theme ‘Home, Habitat & Shelter’.

Entries can focus on any of the world’s amazing ecosystems, although as today is World Ocean’s Day we thought we would give potential entrants some inspiration from one of nature’s most mysterious and varied environments. Occupying approximately two thirds of the Earth’s surface and containing around 95 percent of the Earth’s water, the world’s oceans provide numerous habitats for a wide range of species. The oceans are divided into five distinct areas: the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern (Antarctic) and Arctic.

Oceans are divided into five layers, and each layer is designated depending on its depth, physical characteristics and biological conditions, and the richness of life within each zone can vary considerably. Oceanographers categorise the open ocean as the pelagic zone, while the far depths, including the oceanic trenches, are described as hedalpelagic. At depths between 6,000 and 11,000 metres, there is a very low density of marine-life due to the harsh physical and chemical conditions.

But even at great depths and with no direct access to sunlight, creatures have evolved to survive and thrive. The giant tube worm lives around strong flowing hydrothermal vents, which are cracks on the ocean floor from which very hot, mineral-rich water flows into the surrounding ocean water. These vents are usually found near volcanically active places and the surrounding water is heated by the magma beneath the Earth’s surface.

Giant tube worm plume – a deep-sea species

The giant tube worm lives inside thin, tube-like structures made from chitin (a hard, protective material found in the outer skeleton of some invertebrates) and can grow up to two metres long. It has an impressive, haemoglobin-rich, red plume which is extended when it is undisturbed. The highly specialised body is divided into four sections, each of which plays a role in gas exchange, structure and support, and absorption of nutrients. Like other worms, it does not have a digestive tract and relies on a symbiotic relationship with bacteria in its body tissue. The bacteria perform chemosynthesis, a process by which organic molecules are produced for the worm to feed on.

Giant tube worm specimen

The remoteness of the hydrothermal vents prevents scientists from studying the ecology and biology of this species and others that live in these deep-sea areas. So although it is clear to see they have adapted to thrive in harsh oceanic environments, other biological features such as reproduction and feeding habits are relatively unknown.

If you have been inspired to think about a creature that has developed to flourish in a unique environment or you have simply been struck by the beauty of a creature in its natural habitat, why not enter the Society of Biology amateur photography competition. Photographs could focus on biological research which helps to answer the complex question of why and how different organisms survive in diverse environments; or, could simply capture the beauty of an animal in its natural habitat.

Further details on entering the photography competition are available on the Society of Biology website

Mar 27

The winners have been announced for the HSBC Water Programme Photography Competition, with a photo of a water drop stealing the top prize. Wildscreen has helped HSBC to run their internal photography competition to promote the importance of the HSBC Water Programme, which will benefit communities in need and provide information for more efficient management of vital freshwater resources.

Following an entertaining and informative masterclass from one of the world’s leading wildlife photographers, Mark Carwardine, over 1,000 entries were submitted. It was great to see so many beautiful entries from all over the world, and the tough job of picking the finalists and winners fell to our expert judging panel: Rosamund Kidman Cox (WildPhotos Producer, editor and writer), Helen Gilks (Managing Director, Nature Picture Library and Blue Green Pictures) and Mark Carwardine (Wildlife Photographer and Zoologist).

Entrants were encouraged to enter their images into one of five categories. Below, you can find the winners from each category, along with comments from Rosamund Kidman Cox.

 

Winner of Creative Visions of Water and Overall Winner

Image by Khalyd El Hamoumy

Image by Khalyd El Hamoumy

Crystal Droplet

This is a choreographed image of a water droplet, impacting on the surface of the water and ‘bouncing’ back up. No doubt the photographer would have rehearsed this many times, until everything was just right: the distance between the drop of water and bowl, the colour of the background to be reflected off the water, the position of the speedlight and the amount of light coming from it. It’s a simple image of a perfect sphere acting as a crystal lens, and all the more successful for capturing the essence of water.

 

Winner of People and Water

Image by Prasad Peddireddy

Image by Prasad Peddireddy

The power of water

The tiny gathering of people stand dwarfed by the vast canyon and the giant cascade of water formed as the River Sharavathi plunges 250 metres down into the gorge – a truly magnificent image. The Jog Falls are India’s second-highest falls, in the heart of the Western Ghats – a great escarpment that is a World Heritage Site and a biological hotspot.

 

Winner of Freshwater Landscapes

Image by Isuru Hettiarachchi

Image by Isuru Hettiarachchi

Sunset Falls

A curtain of water and spray filter the setting sun as it touches the horizon, photographed from behind Iceland’s Seljalandsfoss waterfall as it pours off the escarpment. Beyond, the river can be seen cutting through the landscape as it travels to the sea. It’s an imaginative and atmospheric picture of a much-photographed Icelandic natural wonder.

 

Winner of Freshwater Life

Image by Marissa Tabbada

Image by Marissa Tabbada

Gull on a Golden Pond

It’s a simple, serene scene, taken on a beautiful autumn day. A black-headed gull, already in winter plumage, rests on a Central London pond. The low afternoon light has picked out the ripples on the water surface, reflecting the golden colour of autumn leaves.

 

Winner of Water in Black and White

Image by Oi Yan Ko

Image by Oi Yan Ko

Water Run

The subject is a moorhen, running on water as it prepares to take off on a pond in Hong Kong’s Nam Sang Wai wetland park, an area that was once dominated by fish farms and is now an important area for waterbirds. But the picture is not so much a portrait of a bird as a graphic composition – a trajectory splash pattern against mirror-smooth water, topped by a fringe-frame of reflected vegetation.

View a gallery of the finalists’ images on the Water Hub website: http://www.thewaterhub.org/gallery/photography-competition

Phoebe Shaw Stewart, Text Author

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