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2018 Photowalk winners announced

Photographers from Italy, the UK and Canada won professional and public votes.

Illustration of a camera
Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago

From deep under the North Sea to the outskirts of Rome and the Canadian shores of the Pacific, the winning images from the 2018 Global Physics Photowalk competition capture the beauty, precision and international nature of humankind’s search to understand the universe. 

The winners were determined by a panel of expert photographers and scientists and by a separate public vote. The results were announced on Sunday at the international ASTC annual conference in Hartford, Connecticut.

First place

Scientist standing in a mine tunnel, reading a sign, with her face lit by a headlamp on her helmet

Simon Wright submitted the winning image of the judges’ competition. His entry comes from deep beneath the North Yorkshire moors in the UK, where physicists at the STFC Boulby Underground Laboratory play a lead role in the search to detect and understand the mysteries of dark matter.


Wright cleverly used a miner’s lamp to highlight the face of STFC’s Tamara Leitan, avoiding the need for a flash that would have strobed off the safety equipment all workers and visitors to the mine must wear.


“The lighting is what attracts you to this silent but powerful image,” says Professional photographer Enrico Sacchetti, a member of the international judges’ panel. “It’s great seeing her completely at ease in this lonely environment.”


A different image by Wright won third place in the public vote.

Simon Wright, STFC Boulby Underground Laboratory, UK
Black and white image of a round piece of equipment snaked with multiple sets of chords

First place in the public vote went to Luca Riccioni for his photo of KLOE2, a detector devoted to the study of the origin of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in our universe, at Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Italy. 

Luca Riccioni, Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Italy

Second place

Close-up photo of a colorful silicon-strip particle detector

The judges’ second place winner was Stefano Ruzzini’s photograph of a silicon-strip particle detector, previously employed in the NA50 experiment at CERN and now at Frascati National Laboratories of the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics.


“The almost perfect symmetry is fantastic,” says photographer Enrico Sacchetti, a member of the international judges’ panel. “I’m attracted by the strong colors, but I’m especially attracted by the complete lack of any reference to scale.”

Stefano Ruzzini, Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Italy
Photo of a hand holding a glass ball, through which one can see a silver particle detector

At the far western edge of Vancouver, BC, researchers at TRIUMF wield some of the world’s best tools for uncovering the fascinating dynamics at play within atomic nuclei. DESCANT, the Deuterated Scintillator Array for Neutron Tagging, is a concave particle detector that can be mounted on two different experiments that delve into nuclear structure and dynamics.


This image of DESCANT by Canadian photographer Jonathon McRae (Four Eyes Photography) won second place in the public vote and tied for third in the judges’ vote. 

Jonathon McRae, TRIUMF, Canada

Third place

Photo of a hand holding a glass ball, through which one can see a silver particle detector

Jonathon McRae shot this intriguing perspective, which won second place in the public vote and tied for third place in the judges' competition, using a small, spherical lens. Holding the lens between camera and detector array, McRae recreated a miniature simulacrum of DESCANT in the crystal-clear glass ball, cleverly highlighting its compelling shape and geometry.


Photowalk judge Ale de la Puente, a Mexican artist and designer, describes the image as “an enchanting metaphor of the photographed, the illusion of the unreachable to our perceptions held in a hand.” 

Jonathon McRae, TRIUMF, Canada
Image of a person with a ponytail wearing a hard hat, looking at a large silver tank through a window

Tied for third place in the judges’ competition is Gianluca Micheletti’s image of a researcher observing Xenon1t, a dark matter experiment placed deep underground at Gran Sasso National Laboratories of the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics. In the photo, a monitor displays the images of the inner detector of the experiment.  

Gianluca Micheletti, Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso, Italy
Photo looking through a green-hued tunnel with a blue door at the end

Placing third in the public vote was this image by Simon Wright, taken at the STFC Chilbolton Observatory, home to a wide range of science facilities covering research in atmospheric science, radio-communications, astronomy, space science and technology.


A different image by Wright won first place in the judges' competition.


“To say I am on cloud nine would be an understatement,” Wright says. “Each location was completely different, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to the scientists and staff during the Photowalks too.”

Simon Wright, STFC Chilbolton Observatory, UK

The competition was run by the Interactions Collaboration of global particle physics laboratories. It was supported by the Royal Photographic Society and Association of Science-Technology Centers.