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SPIE International Year of Light Photo Contest

The SPIE International Year of Light Photo Contest was held to raise awareness about the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL) and the vital role that light and light-based technologies play in daily life. IYL is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations to increase awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.

SPIE received more than 800 images in 2014 for the photo contest. Inspiring images depicting the Milky Way, Northern Lights, solar energy, communication devices powered by photonics, and other important uses of light in medicine, culture, education and art were popular themes in the contest.

A panel of judges selected the top three photos after evaluating all on scientific interest, creativity, artistry, technique, overall appeal, and how well the photo communicated the contest theme. An additional 32 photos that the judges ranked highly went on to the People's Choice competition, held from April to August 2015.

SPIE is one of 12 IYL founding partners and provided prizes of US $2,500 for the first-place photo; $1,000 for second place; and $500 each for third place and the People's Choice Award. SPIE Professional magazine featured the winning photos on the covers of each quarterly issue of the magazine in 2015.

winning photo SPIE IYL Photo Contest
Paul Reiffer's winning image is titled "Over the Rainbow"

British photographer Paul Reiffer’s 35-second-exposure image of lights on and around the Nanpu Bridge in Shanghai was the first-place winner.

The movement and complexity of the "rainbow" of LED lights in the photo was judged most effective in illustrating the goal of the IYL as well as light in everyday life, the contest theme.

Reiffer, from Weymouth, England, is an award-winning professional photographer whose photography has appeared in numerous international exhibits.

Susanta Mukherjee's second-place photo in the SPIE International Year of Light Photo Contest
Second-place winner is Susanta Mukherjee's "Joy of Light."

The second-place winner and recipient of a $1,000 prize was Susanta Mukherjee, an amateur photographer from West Bengal, India, who traveled to a village without electricity in March 2014 and captured the joy of children who received free solar-powered study lights.

3rd place photo in the SPIE IYL Photo Contest
The third-place prize was for Ian Bell's "Neon Nights."

Ian Bell, a student studying photography and business at Montana State University in the United States, won the third-place prize and $500 with a long-exposure photograph of an athlete on a stand-up paddle board with LEDs mounted on the paddle. The photographic technique created a “light painting” across the water of Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island, WA.

Handi Laksono photo for SPIE IYL Photo Contest

The People's Choice Award was presented to Handi Laksono of East Java, Indonesia, whose photo (above) shows a 5-year-old boy studying on the floor of a dark hut. Residents of the boy's village of Wae Rebo on Flores Island, Indonesia, have little to no electricity to illuminate their thatched huts and rely on natural light through tiny windows and a solar panel that powers a single light bulb for three hours a day.

Laksono says he will donate his $500 award to the boy's family for his education.

Nearly 2000 people from around the world cast votes in the People's Choice Award competition.

Judges who did the initial screening for the photo contest included a student panel that evaluated all submitted photos. The student judges included Jana Huisman, the Photonics21 Young Ambassador for Photonics Education and nearly 40 graduate students from university art programs and SPIE Student Chapters.

The executive panel of judges that selected the top three photos was composed of SPIE member Joe Niemela of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy, which serves as the global secretariat for IYL2015; award-winning American photographer Mathieu Young; and Deborah Klochko, director of the Museum of Photographic Arts in California.

graphic for award

People's Choice Award runners-up were:

  • Sadai Pandiyan Azhagu-karpakam (India)
  • Maria Francesca Avila (Philippines)
  • Dipayan Bhar (India)
  • John Danrev Bolus (Philippines)
  • Mario Cardenas (UAE)
  • Bernardo Cesare (Italy)
  • Di Chang (Canada)
  • Inigo Cia (UK)
  • Spencer Cox (USA)
  • Jasper da Seymour (Australia)
  • Andrew Davidhazy (USA)
  • Abhijit Dey (India)
  • Jean-Luc Dorier (Switzerland)
  • Ebrahim Elmoly (Egypt)
  • Federico Giussani (Italy)
  • Laurie Hatch (USA)
  • David Huamani Bedoya (Peru)
  • Romado Javillonar (Philippines)
  • Sandipan Mukherjee (India)
  • Gabriele Orlini (Italy)
  • Anze Osterman (Slovenia)
  • Vien Dong Phan (Vietnam)
  • Jose Ramos II (Philippines)
  • Daniela Rapavá (Slovakia)
  • Jiraporn Saenjae (Thailand)
  • Jadsada Saetiew (Thailand)
  • Md. Khalid Rayhan Shawon (Bangladesh)
  • Alexander Stepanenko (Russia)
  • Cory Stinson (USA)
  • Tunç Tezel (Turkey)
  • Nikki Sandino Victoriano (Philippines)

SPIE is a founding partner of the International Year of Light

IYL logo