22 April 2021

Close, but no cigar. Levon Biss @ The SONY World Photo Awards

Levon Biss was Shortlisted by the SONY World Photo Awards for his Project The Hidden Beauty of Seeds.

This series displays the historic carpology collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE). After painstakingly examining more than 3,500 historical specimens, 121 were selected for inclusion, concentrating on those with the most striking evolutionary adaptations and stories. Many of the specimens date back to the early 19th century and were collected by the pioneering botanists of their time, including those on the Challenger expedition of 1872 to 1876.

Throughout its long history, the RBGE herbarium collection has been used by scientists to help them interpret the diversity of plants and fungi. Crops, poisonous plants, garden plants, medicinal plants, tiny herbs, giant rainforest trees – all kinds of plants and fungi are represented. Herbaria such as the RBGE act as ‘libraries’ of plant material and are crucial in helping us to determine which plants grow where and how we can differentiate them.

The images presented allow the audience to appreciate and study these tiny specimens in levels of detail normally only available with the use of microscopes. Using photo-stacking techniques and a bespoke camera system, the images display unprecedented levels of detail from specimens too small to view with the naked eye, providing us with an insight into an unseen world.