Photography Contest XIII

Light meter
Sekonic light meter designed to fit on accessory shoe for 35-mm camera. This is perhaps somewhat off-task, but I cannot find a date for the meter. The accessory shoe, soon to evolve into a hot shoe, was developed in the 1970's, so the meter probably predates 1970. The highest ASA (ISO) speed is 3200, so the meter probably cannot date as early as the 1940's or even 1950's (Kodak Royal X Pan came out around 1957 with an astronomical ASA daylight speed of 1250). The meter is worth about $30 US, used.

For the uninitiated, you set the ASA speed by rotating the inner ring. In this case the ASA speed is 80. The meter reads "3," so rotate the outer ring till the tick is opposite the red 3. Then read the exposure – for example, F/11 and 1/100 s. Now set your camera accordingly and take the picture. If your camera uses exposure values (EV), then use the number next to the black ASA speed (the black and red numbers are used to avoid crowding).

The meter is photovoltaic, which means that (a) it is not as sensitive as a battery-powered photoconductive meter, but (b) it still works. You may convert the meter to an incident-light meter by opening the little door on the upper edge of the case.

The 13th annual Panda’s Thumb Photography Contest begins now, Monday, June 21, at 12:00 p.m., MDT (MDT = UTC(GMT) – 6 h). Entries will be accepted between now and Wednesday, July 7, at 12:00 p.m., MDT. The rules are precisely the same as last year’s, except, obviously, that the dates have been updated.

We encourage entries in a single, general category, which includes pictures of just about anything of scientific interest: any object of experimentation or observation, from single-celled organisms, through nematodes, fruit flies, rats, chimpanzees, and college sophomores to volcanoes, stars, and galaxies. In order not to omit theoreticians, we will consider computer-generated pictures and also photographs of equipment. Photomicrographs and electron micrographs are likewise welcomed.

Since rumor has it that the pandemic encouraged macro photography, we may, if we receive enough entries, establish a “macro” category.

The winner and the runner-up will receive a copy of Improbable Destinies by Jonathan Losos, generously donated by the National Center for Science Education, and a copy of one of my own books.

If we get enough entries, consistently with Rules 11 and 12, we may add categories and award additional prizes, presuming, of course, that we can find more prizes.

The rules of the contest are simple:

We will consider any photograph that displays scientific interest – biological, paleontological, geological, or astronomical, for example.

Submit photographs in JPEG format.

Reduce photographs to an information content of 600 pixels horizontally. If creationists require a definition of information, they may apply in writing to the management.

Photographs may be enhanced but may not be montages. High dynamic range photographs are, however, accepted. Submit a maximum of 3 photographs (or 5 photographs per family) to

Submit the photographs as attachments to an e-mail (not embedded in the body of the e-mail). The subject line to the e-mail must have the form YourLastName_PhotographyContest. The filenames for the photographs must have the form YourLastName_Descriptor as, for example, Young_Oxytropis_sericea or Young_Table_Mountain, as appropriate.

In your e-mail, identify the subject of the photograph: common and biological name, mineral type, or geological formation, for example. Provide a link that will allow a reader to learn more about the subject. You may add descriptive text in the body of the e-mail if you like.

Depending on the number of photographs submitted, we may post the best submissions and ask our readers to vote for the best photograph. Likewise, we may establish several categories with separate entries and separate ballots. In particular, students 16 and under should so identify themselves; if we receive enough entries, we will establish a student category.

By submitting a photograph, you stipulate that you are the owner of the copyright and grant The Panda’s Thumb a nonexclusive license to publish the photograph on its blog. The photograph will be subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives license.

Regular contributors to The Panda’s Thumb are not eligible to enter the contest.

The decision of the judges is irrevocable. The judges remain irrepressibly and irreducibly irascible, irreverent, and irredeemable, irregardless and irrespective, but not, we hope, irrational or irritable. We hope for a veritable irruption of entries this year.

Even though we are getting fairly good at running contests, we reserve the right to change any of the rules, or add or subtract rules at any time at our discretion.

We will choose a number of finalists and open voting for the winner at 12:00 p.m., Monday, July 12. Voting will end Friday, July 23, at 12:00 noon, and the winner will be announced om Monday, July 26, at 12:00.