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Royal Photographic Society's Science Photographer of the Year


Since its invention, people have used photography to do, record and communicate science. This is more important than ever as we face the challenges of climate change.

Every year the Royal Photographic Society celebrates science photography through the Science Photographer of the Year competition. For the first time, in partnership with Manchester Science Festival, they have included a climate category. The competition received more than 1,200 photographs from enthusiasts and professionals.

The photographs explore the science that underpins our world. They show the terrible effects of climate change and how we are working to reverse them.

Causes and Effects

From factories to farming, planes to power stations, for hundreds of years human activity has been changing Earth's climate. People and animals are now suffering the effects across the world.

Some places no longer get enough rain and are becoming dry and barren. Others are suffering from flooding. As the polar ice caps and glaciers heat and melt, other parts of the world are getting colder.

Our modern way of living has caused the damage. Now the effects are being felt all over the world. The photographs bring the causes and effects together.

Science Photographer of the Year – Climate winner

North Pole under water by Sue Flood FRPS

Rising temperatures are rapidly melting ice at the Poles. This geographic North Pole marker stands in water as the sea ice it is on melts and breaks up. Melting polar ice is a clear effect of climate change and its loss is also making the problem worse.

A sign for the North Pole with the base of the sign underwater North Pole under water by Sue Flood FRPS

Image credit: Sue Flood FRPS

Causes and Effects entrants

Causes and Effects

Understanding our World

Science helps us to understand our world, from the basic building blocks to the bigger picture.

To tackle climate change, we first have to know why it is happening and how possible solutions might work.

Photography is an important part of the scientific process. It can be used to perform experiments and document observations. Photographs are crucial to communicating the process and results so others can understand it too.

Spreading scientific ideas is vital if we are to understand and combat climate change.

Science Photographer of the Year winner

Orthophoto of the SS Thistlegorm by Simon Brown

The wreck of the ship SS Thistlegorm. The photographer made the image from 15,005 photos using photogrammetry. This technique enables you to take measurements from photos. The photographer corrected the photos to give a straight down view. This ship is a well-known recreational dive site. Can you spot two divers?

Aerial view of a shipwreck Orthophoto of SS Thistlegorm by Simon Brown

Image credit: Simon Brown

Young Science Photographer of the Year winner

Rainbow shadow selfie by Katy Appleton

Sunlight passing through a prism casts a rainbow on the wall. The photographer’s shadow makes it more visible. The prism is denser than air. This slows light down which bends it. The different colours that make up white light bend different amounts. This splits light into a rainbow.

A silhouette of a person's head and hands, with the colour spectrum across where the eyes would be Rainbow shadow selfie by Katy Appleton

Image credit: Katy Appleton

UOW entrants

Understanding our World


Hope for the Future

We need to act now to limit the damage to our planet and its climate.

Science has taken up the challenge with innovative approaches. We can now turn wind and sunlight into power instead of burning coal, oil and gas.

Scientists are exploring ways to reduce our impact by planting trees to capture carbon dioxide. They are working to help us live on our damaged planet through flood defences and weather warning systems.

Understanding the science has enabled us to call for change and hold governments and companies to account. But we can make a difference as individuals too.

Young Science Photographer of the Year – Climate winner

Apollo's Emissary by Raymond Zhang

A concentrated solar power station in China. 12,000 mirrors aim sunlight at a central tower where it heats molten salt. The heat turns water into steam to drive electricity-generating turbines. It will save 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of 0.1% of the UK’s yearly emissions.

A group of pylons in the desert Apollo's emissary by Raymond Zhang

Image credit: Raymond Zhang

HFTF category entrants

Hope for the Future


Sustainability and the Science Museum Group

From solar farms to special exhibitions, find out more about the Science Museum Group's journey to decarbonisation and how our group of museums are engaging audiences with climate science.

Visit the Science Museum Group's sustainability hub here.

Exhibition developed in partnership with the Royal Photographic Society. To find out more about the RPS and the free photography resources it provides to the public, visit its resources page.

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