Nikon’s annual Small World Contest is an institution in the world of microscopic photography, being “widely regarded as the leading forum to recognize proficiency and photographic excellence of photography taken under the microscope,” according to Nikon. This year, the venerable competition saw its 40th installment.
Once again, the contest rules stated that only digital images could be submitted, so users of older analog Nikon bodies were out of luck. Luckily, that didn’t have any impact on the creativity and variety of the pictures submitted, which allow us a glimpse into the microscopic worlds that are all around us, but that we usually don’t notice at all.
The first-place winner of this year’s Small World contest is Rogelio Moreno, who has already participated in previous years and has had multiple of his submissions awarded the “Image of Distinction” rank. His winning photo this year shows a rotifer – a small, water-dwelling animal – at a 40x magnification, revealing the details of both its insides and outsides.
Just like previous winning submissions, Moreno’s photo of the rotifer was achieved using differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy, a technique by which the contrast of transparent specimens is enhanced to a point where they become visible to the human eye.
The second-place winning image was submitted by Alessandro Da Mommio of the University of Pisa, Italy, and it shows the beautiful geometric structures of a calcite crystal in 10x magnification. The third-place was awarded to a truly creepy 20x-magnification photograph of a jumping spider’s pair of eyes; the picture was submitted by Noah Fram-Schwartz of Connecticut.
Overall, 94 submissions have received an award this year, with 20 main prizes, 11 honorable mentions, and 68 images of distinction. And the next Small World Contest is already on its way, with entries currently being accepted and the deadline for submissions ending on April 30, 2015. More information on the Nikon Small World Contest can be found here.