Gallery: Astronomy Photographer of the Year
“Photography these days is easy”, my friends like to say. “All you need is a good camera and a manual.” It may come as a surprise that these friends of mine are photographers.
This theory, however, does not apply when the object you are aiming to capture is the sky. To do this requires dedication and skill, both of which are abundently apparent at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.
The photographers who have won or been shortlisted in the competition’s seven categories have showed such devotion to the cause that they spent months planning one particular shot, seeking out a suitable location, waiting for the right constellation and, of course, taking vast amounts of pictures hoping to get the one perfect photo.
The results are stunning. This exhibition features some of the most breath-taking photographs I have ever seen. From a shot of a bright milky way arching over a beautiful and remote landscape, to dramatic pictures of the sun or photos of vast and magical skies, these images do not disappoint.
The photos aren’t the only mind-blowing aspect of the competition: I also found myself baffled and astonished when I realised just how young some of these artists are. I saw the number 10 next to one photographer’s shot and wondered whether this was a technical specification of her camera, only to realise that it was, in fact, her age. Ariana Bernal, from the USA, was selected runner-up in the young photographer category, for her image ‘Goodbye Sun, Hello Moon’ which shows both the sun setting and the moon rising by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
The overall winner of the contest is Mark Gee, from Australia, who also won the earth and space category with his shot of the milky way, Guiding Light to the Stars (see above), taken on the coast of the New Zealand’s North Island.
Considering the calibre of images, it is a shame that they are displayed at about the size of an average computer monitor, and the exhibition is squeezed into one tiny dark room. On several occasions I was jostled by fellow visitors as I struggled to properly take in all the photos, or thoroughly read their accompanying texts drafted by the photographers.
It seems churlish to complain, since the event is free to attend. But I would gladly have paid a fee if it meant I could enjoy these amazing pictures in a much larger format and in a bigger, more open-plan environment.
This collection of striking photographs could have virtually transported visitors into space, but sadly, this potential has not been realised.
The exhibition runs until 23 February 2014.