Good photography shows the world in new and striking ways. Photos are usually captured with a variety of cameras and lenses, but the contestants in Nikon’s annual Small World competition another tool: Microscopes.
When photography crosses microscopy, you get photomicrography. Scientists capture many of these images on a regular basis for research, examining the tiny details of cells, insects, brain structures, plants, starfish and more. But to win this competition, photographers need more than scientific merit, they have to show off some artistic chops.
More than 2,000 entries from over 83 countries entered this year’s competition. Judges included both science editors and researchers.
Ralph Grimm of Australia—beekeeper, high school teacher and self-taught micrographer—took first place this year for his close-up view of a bee’s eye, flecked with pollen grains, at a magnification of 120 times. Four hours of careful setup were required for this shot, reports Hanae Armitage for Science. Grimm mounted the bee's eye, set the focus, positioned the lights and finally took multiple images to compile into the finished picture.
"In a way I feel as though this gives us a glimpse of the world through the eye of a bee,” says Grimm. “It’s a subject of great sculptural beauty, but also a warning—that we should stay connected to our planet, listen to the little creatures like bees, and find a way to protect the earth that we all call home."