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Nikon Small World Competition

(Above) Slab of dryhead marine sedimentary agate, magnified 32 times.
Douglas Moore/University of Wisconsin.

Two inventions that revolutionized the world, the microscope and camera, offer us glimpses of worlds that were previously inaccessible to humans. Brought together as photomicrography, they offer visual insight into tiny objects that mostly pass people by.

“These photos come from the Nikon Small World Competition, an image contest Nikon hosts every year, open to both professionals and amateurs. The competition showcases advancements in technology in a photographic medium and doesn’t limit entrants to subject matter. They are judged on how original and visually engaging they are, how much information they hold, and the amount of technical proficiency involved.”


Image of emergence of cholesteric liquid crystal from isotropic liquid, magnified 25 times.
Ken Ishikawa/Tokyo Institute of Technology.


House spider, magnified 30 times.
Harold Taylor.


A female deep-sea copepod, Pontostratiotes sp., collected in the southeastern Atlantic Ocean at 3.35 miles (5,395 meters) deep.
Terue Kihara/Senckenberg am Meer


Male mosquito, or Culex pipiens, 10x.
David Maitland


This extreme closeup of a fruit fly’s eye halfway through pupal development finished in fourth place in Nikon’s 2012 Photomicrography Competition. It shows the retina, in gold, the photoreceptor axons, in blue, and the brain, in green.
W. Ryan Williamson/Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).


The sand-paper-like surface of a shark’s skin, magnified 40 times.
Tomasz Kozielec/Nicolaus Copernicus University.


Butterfly tongue, magnified five times.
Philippe Verrees.


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