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Geography photo competition – winners announced

From the British Museum in London to the Mueller glacier in New Zealand, Queen Mary School of Geography students captured their view of the world for this year’s photography competition.

With entries from across the School, this year’s images were inspired by four categories designed to help students think about geographical themes. From ‘My Place in the World’ to ‘Resilient Earth’, ‘City Life’ to ‘Boundaries’, students also provided captions to explain their image.

The winner, Francis O’Shea, captured a wide-angled shot of the British Museum’s Reading Room for the ‘City Life’ category. The judging panel was unanimous in its decision to award this image the first prize, noting how the image, dominated by the reading room’s geometric ceiling, maintained a human perspective with the visitors providing a point of scale. “I have recently started taking wide-angle photographs and I wanted to find places that emphasise the distortions that result from wide angle imagery,” the PhD student explained. “The Reading Room and glass roof in the British Museum is a subject that is often photographed, however in this image the overwhelming stature of the reading room compared to the individuals cast in the blue light of dusk creates a unique and striking composition.”

Runner up Cianna Wyshnytzky – who is also a PhD student – submitted the competition’s only black and white image with a shot of the famous rolling coast line at Seven Sisters in Sussex. The panel noted how the monochrome shot worked well with the foaming white waves and vertiginous white cliffs under a sky heavy with clouds. “This photo shows the resilience of England's coastal cliffs and remarkable shape our landscape can take,” Cianna, who entered the image in the ‘Resilient Earth’ category, explained. “Constant wave action, dictated by forces outside of our planet’s direct control, has eroded and sculpted these iconic landforms and will continue to do so. This image is therefore a simple snapshot in time, capturing a view that will never been seen in person again.”

Returning from a field trip to New Zealand, third year BSc Geography student Sasha Catchpole entered an image of the Mueller Glacier that she had visited while studying glacial environments at Easter. Highly commended by the judges, the image – entered in the ‘My Place in the World’ category – includes two tiny outlines of hikers standing in sight of the huge glacier. “The scale of the landscapes that we saw on the New Zealand fieldtrip was incredible – difficult to comprehend, even when you are standing looking a glacier such as this,” Sasha explained. “The Mueller Glacier is one of hundreds in this region of the southern alps and is rapidly retreating, a pattern observed across all the glaciers currently. Looking at the glacier, I noticed the two people that can be seen at the bottom right hand corner of the photo and just how small they seemed in comparison to it. Suddenly you feel very small in the grand scheme of things.”

Also commended by the panel was Will Johnstone for an image he captured on a recent field trip to Boston, USA, for the ‘City Life’ category. “Taken in the exclusive neighbourhood of Beacon Hill, Boston, this photo shows both the picturesque character of the area and the darker, exclusionary side. The gate across the lane is almost literally saying ‘look but don’t touch,’” the BA Human Geography student explained.

Head of School Professor Miles Ogborn said it was great to get a glimpse through the photography competition of how our students see the world. “The winning entries show the remarkable range of Geography at QMUL and our students' interest in the patterns and processes in a variety of human and physical landscapes," he said.

  • A display of all the images entered into the Worldview 2014 Photography Competition can be seen on the School of Geography’s new Flickr profile. The images will also be on show at our undergraduate Open Days this week at our Mile End Campus. If you are interested in visiting the School, please come along and say hello at Geography Square this Friday or Saturday.
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