Capturing the Orkney Science Festival photographically



Researchers from Heriot-Watt’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Sciences (IPaQS) joined the Orkney International Science Festival’s Family Day event in Kirkwall, part of an extensive programme of workshops, schools talks and lectures, to explore the inner workings of cameras and photography. 

The hands-on workshop aligned with the International Year of Light, and gave the visitors a chance to see at first hand the optics behind photography through building a simple camera from basic components.  A ‘pop-up darkroom’ allowed the visitors to use their camera to take real photographs, demonstrating that even a simple optical camera can produce impressive results.

While capturing photographs on photographic paper may seem dated in the digital age, it allowed the visitors to literally see the captured images develop in front of their eyes, and the combination of physics and chemistry involved highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary approaches which are vital not only to scientific research but also to produce the next generation of medical instruments and consumer goods.

Izabela Spaleniak, IPaQS researcher, said “It was great to see the excitement of the younger visitors when the simple camera was used to view the surrounding environment and they saw first-hand the effect the lens had on the observed image. “

 “There was a particular buzz about the image developing process, where the appearance of an image on the photographic paper resulted in giggles and gasps of amazement, and not just from the younger visitors!  It was great to see the accompanying adults getting involved in the activity too,” said Bill MacPherson, Associate Professor in Physics.