Namib Dune


© Gigi Williams, BAppSc, FBCA, ASIS, FRPS, FAIMBI

Gigi's image received an Award of Excellence in the Personal Work and Self Directed category from BioImages 2021.

What was your concept when creating this image? Was it for a job or for personal creativity?

I was travelling in the Namib – Naukluft National Park with my husband Robin, also a BCA Fellow, to photograph this amazing landscape. The dunes in Namibia are extraordinary. So big and so beautiful especially when the light is just right. Some are as high as 380 metres. I saw this one with the shadow and really wanted to create a very graphic image so lined up the apex of the shadow very carefully to form the ‘D’ effect with the orange sand against the shadow. I needed the shadow to be almost black to create the drama but still wanted some detail in the shadow to show the curtain-like patterns. I also wanted to show the scale of the trees growing at the bottom in such an inhospitable environment.

What technical issues did you have, or have to work out, to create this image?

The image was taken early in the morning. I used my Nikon 7200 with my favourite lens the Tamron 80-400mm. I was working at full zoom and so used 800 ISO to ensure I could have a fast shutter speed and good depth of field. This was especially important as I was hand-holding the camera and there was also heat haze that was affecting the sharpness of the image. It was delicately processed in LightRoom and Photoshop afterwards.

What elements are important to you when you judge or critique your work or the work of other professionals

I like strong compositions. Something that stands out from the crowd. It needs the ‘wow’ factor. This is very elusive but is certainly something I strive for.

Tell us something about yourself. What is your imaging background?

I went to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and graduated with an Applied Science Degree in Photography. I then went on to gain my Fellowships of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), BCA and the Australian Institute of Medical & Biological Illustration (AIMBI). More recently I was awarded the Accredited Senior Imaging Scientist qualification from the RPS. I served as the National President for AIMBI and in 2006 was awarded the top honour of the BCA, the Louis Schmidt Award.

I’ve been taking photographs since I was a teenager when my uncle introduced me to photography. After my degree I became a medical photographer at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and then moved to the Royal Children’s Hospital where I worked my way up from a Grade 1 medical photographer, to the chief medical photographer, and then to Director of the department growing it 3 fold to a staff of 24 with medical photography, graphic design, video and web development sections.

After over 30 years, I left my busy job to concentrate on my personal work. Since then I have travelled the world as a landscape and nature photographer and have been recognized with over 60 international awards. I love taking landscape photographs and photographs of nature. I love being outdoors and the excitement of going out in the morning - often well before sunrise –and not knowing exactly what I’ll come back with is really motivational, and to share it with a fellow passionate photographer, my husband Robin, is just a dream.

Who are some of your favorite image makers? What images or image makers inspire or influence you?

So many! From Ansel Adams to Annie Liebowitz, from Jack Vetter to my husband Robin, from the most talented amateur and professional youth of today, I eagerly look at photographs and draw inspiration from them all.

Do you have any advice for people interested in an imaging career in biomedical/life sciences.

Follow your dream, work hard, keep working hard and continue your education. I loved working with the many talented doctors and health professionals especially at the Royal Children’s Hospital where I stayed for 33 years. It was a privilege to be part of their support team.

Are you a member of BCA and if so how has your membership in the BCA helped you?

I am absolutely a member! In fact I am now an Emeritus member which is a huge honour. I went to my first BPA conference in St Louis in 1989 and it was mind-blowing. The calibre and number of presentations was truly inspirational as well as being a bit daunting! Americans are so good at giving papers and I was quite terrified to co-deliver mine with Robin on the ‘Establishment of a Routine Photogrammetry Service at the RCH’, but equally delighted when we received best paper! There were over 350 delegates and I was introduced to the many ‘legends’ like Jack Vetter, Charlie Hodge, Lou Gibson, Warren Sturgis, Maria Lindberg, Paul Newman, Dan Patton, Tom Hurtgen to name a few, and many became lifelong friends.