Nikon Small World competition was founded in 1974 to recognize excellence in photography through the microscope. The results of the 44th competition have just been announced, and they will take your breath away.
This year, the contest had nearly 2,500 entries from scientists and artists in 89 countries. The judges have chosen the top 20 images, and we’re bringing you the winning photos here on DIYP.
The subjects of the photos vary a lot, which makes the selection even more interesting. In these photos, you can see “everyday stuff” such as human tears, but there are also images of phenomena such as cell division. Still, all these photos have something in common: they show an extreme close-up of their subjects and give us a unique view even on the things we thought we knew.
The judges evaluated the photos on originality, informational content, technical proficiency, and visual impact. First place was awarded to Emirati photographer Yousef Al Habshi, who sees the eyes as the windows to stunning insect artwork and research. The 2018 winning image captures part of the compound eyes and surrounding greenish scales of an Asian Red Palm Weevil. This type of Metapocyrtus subquadrulifer beetle is typically less than 11 mm (0.43 in) in size and is found in the Philippines.
Al Habshi captured the image using a reflected light technique and stacking of hundreds of images: he made a compilation of more than 128 micrographs. According to Al Habshi, “the main challenge was to show the black body against the black background without overexposing the skin and scales.” He was able to strike the perfect balance by controlling the background distance from the subject and using deft lighting and sample positioning.
Second place was awarded to Rogelio Moreno for his colorful photo of a Fern sorus, a clustered structure that produces and contains spores. As for the third place, it was awarded to Saulius Gugis for his adorable spittlebug photo, captured using focus-stacking.
In addition to the top three winners, the Nikon Small World contest has recognized 92 more images from all over the world. We bring you the rest of the top 20 photos below, and you can view the entire gallery, along with Images of Distinction, on the contest’s website. Also, check out the last year’s winners here.
If you’d like to submit the photos of your own, you can do it via this link. The contest is open not only to professionals but to hobbyist photographers as well. And now, let these winning images inspire you to experiment with microphotography yourself.
[All images are courtesy of Nikon Small World and used with permission]