September 25, 2009
The National Science Foundation and the journal Science have held the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge each year since 2003. They award images in five categories (photographs, illustrations, informational graphics, interactive media and non-interactive media), and the winners each year are truly wonderful. This image, “Autumn color, Estonian bog” by James S. Aber of Emporia State University, won first place in the Photography category in 2005.
With its intricate patterns-within-patterns and striking colors the winning photograph bears a distinct resemblance to a fractal. But scale back to about 150 meters above the ground and the sinuous landforms of Estonia’s Mannikjarve bog begin to reveal themselves. In the peat bogs of east-central and southwestern Estonia, the autumn works a change in the color scheme: Cotton grass turns gold, hardwoods in surrounding forests turn orange and red, and pine trees remain silvery green. The bog water, is sharp contrast, stays an acidic brown. Geologist James Aber of Emporia State University in Kansas recognized the potential beauty in the landscape and used a digital camera in an unusual setting to capture it.
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