SPIE photo contest celebrating International Year of Light announces winner

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The winner of a photo contest organised to raise awareness of the United Nations' International Year of Light (IYL) has been announced as Paul Reiffer, who took a 35-second-exposure image of traffic and other lights on and around the Nanpu Bridge in Shanghai. The shot was selected from among nearly 800 images submitted last year to SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, for the contest.

SPIE, a founding partner of the International Year of Light, set up the photo contest to not only raise awareness of the year, but to emphasise the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in daily life, promoting sustainable development and providing solutions to global challenges in energy, education, security, agriculture, and health.

The man-made movement and complexity of the light in Reiffer's photo effectively illustrates the goal of the IYL 2015 as well as light in everyday life, the contest theme, according to Joe Niemela of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, one of the contest judges and global coordinator for the secretariat for IYL 2015.

'The creativity in selecting the perspective, with the natural motion through the curves and onto the bridge, is very appealing,' he said.

Reiffer, a professional photographer from Weymouth, England, took the first-place photo (see image 1) with a Phase One 645DF camera on 31 December 2013, and titled it ‘Over the Rainbow’. On certain holiday weekends in Shanghai, not only do the traffic trails create amazing shapes with headlights across the three-layer ramp, but a rainbow show of different-coloured LEDs makes the entire scene come to life, he noted.


Image 1: The winning photograph, taken by Paul Reiffer. Credit: SPIE

Second-place winner Susanta Mukherjee, an amateur photographer from West Bengal, India, travelled to a village without electricity in March 2014 and captured the appreciation of children who received free solar-powered study lights (see image 2 below).


Image 2: The photograph which came second, taken by Susanta Mukherjee. Credit: SPIE

Ian Bell, a student studying photography and business at Montana State University in Bozeman in the United States, won the third-place prize with a long-exposure photograph of an athlete on a stand-up paddle board with LEDs mounted on the paddle (image 3). The photographic technique created a 'light painting' across the water of Fisherman Bay off Lopez Island in northwestern Washington State.


Image 3: The photograph that came in third place, taken by Ian Bell. Credit: SPIE

Prizes consisted of $2,500 for the first-place photo; $1,000 for second place; and $500 each for third place and a nomination for People's Choice Award to be voted on later this year.

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Further Information


The International Year of Light 2015