My Photowalk

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Detail of a radial wire chamber from the HERA accelerator

When I signed up for the DESY Photowalk last September I did not for a moment imagine that one of my photos would make the cover of the CERN Courier. To take part was an impulsive decision, and I had no idea what to expect on my first ever photowalk. On that warm and sunny Saturday, about 50 photographers gathered in the large lecture hall on the campus. Some faces I recognised from my life on the DESY site, many I did not. Some came with small pocket sized cameras, happy to have a chance to take some snapshots behind the scenes – others came loaded with tripods, flashes and intimidating camera equipment I’d never seen before.

I have worked on the site for almost 8 years now, but there are many areas I have never had access to. I was therefore particularly excited to be able to see inside the HERA ring. Out of operation since 2007, the 6.3 km particle accelerator tunnel runs deep under the DESY site and surrounding area and has become something of an urban legend – everyone in the neighbourhood has heard of HERA and when she is opened for the public, the queues are long. Walking along the never-ending tunnel full of instruments ready to be switched back on again, did have a slightly eerie, but thrilling feeling to it – like a step back in time.

Even in the parts of the campus I am more familiar with, it was fun to take time to study details of the surroundings that I wouldn’t usually take any notice of. While other participants’ eyes found stories of the scientists routine and behaviour to tell with their photos, I find my eye was drawn to abstract colourful details hiding amoungst the detectors and magnets. Machines of purpose become works of art.

The DESY Photowalk was a wonderful new experience and I had a lot of fun playing around with my camera during those three hours. I had no expectations for the day itself and what might come after so I was very surprised and thrilled to hear that one of my photos had been awarded third place by the DESY jury. And then third place in the people’s choice category in the Global Photowalk! I was amazed and honoured!

It was wonderful to see how much interest all the photos from the global photowalks received. Who would have thought that photos of bits of (pretty cool) physics kit, could induce so much enthusiasm. The feedback and comments I have received have been extremely touching, inspiring and encouraging, and have made the whole experience very special. The scientist who wrote to express his amazement, thanks and pride at seeing the radial wire chambers he had designed, developed and installed at HERA some 30 years ago pictured on the front cover of the CERN courier. The book author who wrote to ask to be able to use my photo for the front cover of her book on the particle physics. These and all the supportive comments from friends, family and colleagues inspire me to pick up my camera more often and try to capture the beauty in the world around me to share with others. Thank you!

You can see more of my photowalk pictures here.

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