ARCHIVED - Harry Turner, Science Communications through Photography

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November 03, 2003— Ottawa, Ontario

For a photo to tell a great science story, you need outstanding people on both sides of the lens. Harry Turner's photos grace NRC's annual reports, publications and posters and are travelling the world thanks to digital files and the Internet. His tools include coloured gels, digital cameras, macrophotography and Adobe Photoshop. His subjects are equally diverse and have included quantum cryptography, photomicroscopic imaging, 3D scanning technology, speed skating suits and laser research.

In his role as one of NRC's photographers, Turner has traveled across Canada visiting a multitude of labs with experiments in progress, has covered testing being performed in extreme temperatures, enjoyed rides in a multitude of vehicles from a military tank to a two-seater jet – all in the line of duty – and in the process learned "a bit about a lot."


"I want to create an image of researchers and their equipment in a way that captures the viewer's interest and imagination and, ultimately, increases their comprehension of the underlying science."


To him people are the most important part of the photography process, insuring veracity and honesty to the photo by telling the story of very creative people and their great accomplishments. Giving stories a strong visual context with a spectacular photo will catch the reader's attention, increasing the interest to read the text as well as the understanding of it.

"If you use words to try and describe to someone what a scanning tunnel microscope is and how it works, people are likely to come up with some pretty creative visualizations. What I try and do is to produce a photograph that helps set the stage for an accurate understanding and appreciation of the science at work in the image" Turner explains.

He has had the opportunity to photograph outstanding people, including ten different Nobel Prize winners. His photo of Dr. Gerhard Herzberg (1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) has been printed internationally by numerous publications including the London's Independent Times and was the basis of an engraving by the British Banknote Company. The Royal Canadian Mint has designed a medal based on the photo that the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) will use to reward excellence.

Harry Turner's interest in science and photography goes back to his pre-med and biochemistry days, but once he joined NRC, his career took a different route. 24 years later, Turner has seen it all through coated lenses and has amassed highly specialized knowledge about lighting, filters and the behaviour of laser light among other things. For over 20 years, Turner has shared this knowledge by teaching photography at Algonquin College, his alma mater, and gets a lot of enjoyment from that exchange.

One of Turner's recent projects included photo-taking for the 2nd edition of Follow the Leaders, an Industry Canada publication used to highlight Canada as a world leader in Biotechnology. The book has proven to be very popular and illustrates the importance of photography as a means of communicating science.

Harry is a member of NRC's Creative Services Group. The photo archives at Creative Services include thousands of Harry's memorable images.

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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