Nikon has announced the winners of its annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition. For almost five decades, Nikon has shared the best microscopic images from this contest, and just as always – they are absolutely marvelous.
This year’s first-place prize was awarded to Grigorii Timin for his remarkable image of an embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko. But Nikon also recognizes the best 20 images from the contest, so let’s take a look and enjoy them together.
The Nikon Small World competition was founded in 1974 to recognize excellence in photography through the microscope. In 2011, a sister competition was launched: Nikon Small World in Motion. It was a response to technological advances allowing for recording movies or digital timelapse through the microscope.
For his amazing winning photo, Timin was supervised by Dr. Michel Milinkovitch at the University of Geneva. He utilized high-resolution microscopy and image-stitching to capture this species of Phelsuma grandis day gecko. The final photo is the result of merging hundreds of images together, and preparing the sample was an additional challenge. Timin performed whole-mount fluorescent staining and tissue clearing to capture the entire embryonic hand with a confocal microscope.
“This embryonic hand is about 3 mm (0.12 in) in length, which is a huge sample for high-resolution microscopy,” Timin said. “The scan consists of 300 tiles, each containing about 250 optical sections, resulting in more than two days of acquisition and approximately 200 GB of data.”
The final result gives a glimpse into the hidden beauty and complexity of the gecko, highlighting the nerves in a cyan color and the bones, tendons, ligaments, skin and blood cells in a range of warmer colors.
To select the winners, Nikon Small World judges analyzed entries from all over the world. Nearly 1,300 entries from 72 countries, to be more specific. All of the photos were evaluated on originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and visual impact. As I mentioned, the competition has unveiled the top 20 images, which you’ll see if you keep on scrolling. Make sure to check out Nikon Small World’s website for the full gallery of winners and runner-ups.