- The Japanese firm’s annual competition is open to photographs of microscopic subjects that have been taken under a microscope
- A total of 1,900 entries were received from visiting scientists and artists from 88 countries around the world.
- Oak Leaf finished first, while second went to a tiny device with 300,000 networking neurons
- Other images included the intricate structure of a snowflake, pollen grains trapped on cotton, and a salt crystal.
Leaf surface features of a southern live oak, a mammary organ and neurons of a juvenile star sea anemone are among the incredible close-ups that made the finals of Nikon’s 47th.small world‘ Competition.
The Japanese firm’s annual microphotography competition – for images of tiny subjects pulled with microscopes – showcases the world’s breath-taking flora, fauna and more in detail that isn’t visible to your naked eye.
The first prize was awarded to the Southern Live Oak Leaf – with a microfluidic device containing 300,000 networking neurons that span second and third place lice’s back paws, feet and windpipes.
Surface features of the leaf of a southern live oak (painted by Jason Kirk, who won first place) – including its appendages (trichomes, in white) and pores (stomata, in purple) – of a mammary organ and a juvenile starlet Neurons are among the incredible close-up of sea anemones that made the finals of Nikon’s 47th ‘Small World’ competition
The Japanese firm’s annual microphotography competition – for images of tiny subjects pulled with microscopes – showcases the world’s breath-taking flora, fauna and more in detail that isn’t visible to your naked eye. Image: close-up of a mammary organ showing contractile myoepithelial cells (blue) crawling over secretory mammary cells (red)
This image shows the neurons surrounding the mouth and tentacles of a living, juvenile star sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis, which ranked 16th.
A butterfly (Morpho didius) by Sebastian Malo with 20-fold enlarged veins and scales on the wing, ranked 11th
Illinois resident Soulius Gugis submitted this photo of a table salt crystal under 10-fold magnification, which placed 18th
meet the judges
The Judging Panel for Nikon’s 47th ‘Small World’ Photomicrography Competition included:
- Nissan Akani, health and science editor at New York Public Radio
- hank green, science fiction writer and internet producer
- Robin Kazmier, science editor at PBS Nova
- Alexa Mathis, Associate Professor of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham
- hesper rego, assistant professor of microbial pathogenesis at Yale School of Medicine
The winning photo was a stunning close-up view of the surface of a Southern Live Oak Live that was taken by Jason Kirk, a microcosmologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
A Nikon spokesperson said, ‘Using a variety of lighting techniques and design tools, Jason’s final image is a classic example of the dynamic relationship between imaging technology and artistic creativity.
Mr Kirk captured his award-winning shot using a custom-built microscope system that allowed him to combine color-filtered transmitted light on one side of the leaf with diffuse reflected light on the other.
They captured about 200 separate images of the exterior of the leaf and then stacked them together to create the stunning image.
The image highlights three key features of the leaf, the first of which are trichomes – fine outgrowths that protect plants from extreme weather, insects and microorganisms – shown in white.
Meanwhile, in purple, Mr Kirk highlights the stomata – tiny pores that control the flow of gases in and out of a plant – and in cyan the vessels that carry essential water throughout the leaf.
‘The light side of it was complicated. Microscope objectives are small and have very little depth of focus. I couldn’t have a giant light next to the microscope and make the light directional,’ Mr Kirk said.
‘It would be like trying to light the head of a pin with a light source the size of your head. Almost impossible.’
Mr Kirk said he edited the color temperature and hue of his winning submission in post-production to better depict the various elements of the oak leaf.
The first place winner also contributed to the 11th place finish with collaborator Carlos P. Flores Suarez – a photography of the vasculature in the retina of a mouse.
Along with taking close-up images of subjects found in his backyard, Mr. Kirk counts on his hobby of customizing microscopes.
“I have learned a lot from the scientific community, having spent more than 20 years in this field doing microscopy at a very high level,” explained Mr. Kirk.
‘But I’ve also learned a lot from people in a hobbyist environment. Small World is a good combination of the two groups, and you don’t often get the opportunity to see it,’ he said.
Second place in the competition was awarded to Esmeralda Parik and Holly Stephen of Macquarie University, Australia, to image a microfluidic device consisting of hundreds of thousands of networking neurons that were extracted before being seeded and transformed using one of two viral treatments and was cultured. Her shot shows two different populations, separate but bridged (pictured), who were maintained for 30 days, immunized and then tiled imaged
Third place in the competition was awarded to a snap of the hind legs, paws and respiratory trachea (windpipe) of the hog louse, Haematopinus suis, captured by a Frank Reischer from Nassau Community College in New York City (pictured)
Seventh place was awarded for this close-up of the tick’s head, presented by Tong Zhang and Paul Studley of The Ohio State University.
Amsterdam’s Jan van Eijken shot a water flea (Daphnia) carrying the embryo.