Some of the stunning images 2017 left behind

Another year has gone by. 2017, a prime one. Too fast paced for my own taste, I must say, but that may also be a product of the many things it brought. Starting a PhD, for instance. Alright, alright, enough about me… After all you are probably reading this because you inferred from the title that you would get to see some really impressive images, hopefully nature- and science-related (not the journals, my friend). You inferred correctly. In this post I’ve tried to gather the photography awards that have blown me away during this 2017, and some of my favourite images therein. I am sure I missed some, so please share any awards you know so I can add them! Read on, read on, and get your eyes ready: enjoy!

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2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Shall we start with some National Geographic material? Yes, we shall. May I present you the Travel Photographer of the Year contest, the entries of which will make you want to spend all your money travelling the world. This year’s Grand Prize winner was Sergio Tapiro Velasco with this incredible caption of a simultaneous volcanic eruption and a lightning bolt in Mexico’s Colima Volcano. I have nothing more to add.

The Power of Nature - Sergio Tapiro Velasco
Photograph by Sergio Tapiro Velasco / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

The People’s Choice winner was Hymakar Valluri with a perfectly timed photograph of a buff-tailed coronet feeding on flower nectar in the Ecuadorian forest. Let’s admire it for a little while.

Buff Tailed Coronet - Hymakar Valluri
Photograph by Hymakar Valluri / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

Am I right to think you want to see more? Then navigate the full gallery from National Geographic by following this link. In addition, The Atlantic dedicated two beautiful pieces on this: Part I and Part II. You shall not miss them.


Wellcome Image Awards 2017

Every year since 1997 the Wellcome Image Awards recognise “the creators of informative, striking and technically excellent images that communicate significant aspects of healthcare and biomedical science”. If you want to see some incredible images and learn something on the way, I deeply encourage you to navigate this year’s winners’ gallery. Here are my top picks.

On the left you can see a beautiful caption of a 4-day-old zebrafish larvae by Ingrid Lekk and Steve Wilson, from UCL, using genetic tricks to label a specific gene in red (“expressed in the lens of the eye and in neuromasts, a type of cell that forms a mechanosensory system in fish that responds to surrounding water movements”) and the nervous system in cyan. Learn more about this here.

The image on the right was submitted by Scott Echols, a member of the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, and it was obtained using BriteVu, a contrast agent that makes it possible to image all the blood vessels in an animal through computed tomography. This technique reveals “the intricate network of blood vessels just below the skin of the neck which helps the pigeon control its body temperature through a process known as thermoregulation”. Read more about this on the following link.

You might also want to check out The Guardian’s Gallery on this.


The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards 2017

I’ve just discovered this one, but I can’t stop looking at their galleries. They are HI-LAR-I-OUS. You need to check them all out. Here’s the link, take a look and thank me later. As a teaser I leave with you “The Laughing Dormhouse” by Andrea Zampatti, which will instantly put you in a good mood.

Andrea Zampatti Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Photograph by Andrea Zampatti / Barcroft Images / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards

If you still haven’t followed the link, here’s another one. This one is by Troy Mayne and is titled “Slap”. We’ve all been that turtle. And probably that fish too. If you want more, make sure you follow them on twitter (@FunnyPhotoAward). And again, check The Guardian’s take on the competition here!

Troy Mayne Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards
Photograph by Troy Mayne / Barcroft Images / Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards


The Hidden World – Royal Society of Biology’s 2017 Photographer of the Year competition

It is time to get small. Come and discover hidden worlds we’d probably miss were not by competitions like this one from the Royal Society of Biology, which awards two prizes: one for the The Photographer of the Year and one for the Young Photographer of the Year. My first choice goes to this tiny insect on top of the “world”, titled “Welcome to my humble abode” by Duncan McNaught and taken in Galloway, South Scotland. Majestic.

Photograph by DMCNAUGHTPHOTOGRAPHY/2017 Royal Society of Biology Photographer of the Year

Not far behind you can find this “Life in a drop” by Anup Deodhar, taken in Amboli Maharashtra state, India (Western Ghats). It depicts the egg of a Bombay bush frog, of a size of four to five millimetres. The title says it all. Check out the winners’ gallery here.

Photograph by Anup Deodhar/2017 Royal Society of Biology Photographer of the Year


The Art of Neuroscience Competition (NIN-KNAW)

But of course, I couldn’t finish this post without sharing some stunning Neuroscience-related images. Thankfully, the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience (NIN), part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), had the brilliant idea to create Art of Neuroscience back in 2011, a “cross-over between neuroscience and art” with the goal of making neuroscience research “more tangible”.

If you go to the portfolio you can navigate the different editions and find absolutely wonderful images. I am of course very biased, but I find the following 3D rendering of a layer 5 pyramidal neuron of incredible beauty. In red you can see the axon initial segment, where action potentials are generated. It was taken by Mustafa Hamada, a PhD from Maarten Kole’s group at the NIN, where I spent three months working on these majestic cells a while ago (I already said I was biased, alright?).

Excitation Locus by Mustafa Hamada
Excitation Locus – Photograph by Mustafa S. Hamada / Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

Not one bit less impressive is this Starry Night, a composition of “hippocampal neurons, fixed and labeled for microtubules (cyan) and actin (orange)” by Cristophe Leterrier, from the NICN Institute in Marseille. Check out his lab webpage, full of equally amazing images.

Starry Night by Christophe Leterrier
Photograph by Christophe Leterrier / NICN, Marseille



There are more, many more. And probably even more I still don’t know off. Here you can find a list of further links to amazing images, which I hope will grow with your contributions! Which one is your favourite?

  • Interstellate [linktwitter | mission statement]
  • The Smithsonian Photo Contest [link]
  • Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition [link]
  • 2017 in pictures – The best science images of the year, by Nature [link]


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