Winners: Nikon “small world” photography contest

Alert reader “P” called my attention to a Guardian piece that presents the annual winners of the Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition. While I usually show contest winners involving animals or nature on a large scale, this contest celebrates the beauty of the small, inconspicuous, and invisible. Here are some of the lovely winning shots (note: there are a lot of others, with several involving Drosophila!):

Click to enlarge:

2nd Place, Walter Piorkowski, South Beloit, Illinois. Live newborn lynx spiderlings

4th Place, Dr W Ryan Williamson, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia. Drosophila melanogaster visual system halfway through pupal development, showing retina (gold), photoreceptor axons (blue), and brain (green)

9th Place, Geir Drange, Asker, Norway. Myrmica sp. (ant) carrying its larva

16th Place, Douglas Moore, University Relations & Communications/Geology University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Fossilized Turitella agate containing Elimia tenera (freshwater snails) and ostracods (seed shrimp)

17th Place, Charles Krebs Issaquah, Washington. Stinging nettle trichome on leaf vein.

18th Place, Dr David Maitland, Feltwell, UK, Coral sand.

The one above is my favorite. Talk about art imitating life: to me it resembles a painting by Paul Klee.

19th Place, Dr Somayeh Naghiloo, Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences , University of Tabriz, Iran. Floral primordia of Allium sativum (garlic).

20th Place, Dorit Hockman, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Cambridge University, UK/ Embryos of the species Molossus rufus (black mastiff bat).

h/t: P


  1. Posted October 24, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    If you’d like to see more beautiful spider images from Walter Piorkowski, please click on this link to a post on my blog that will let you click through to three different sites displaying his photos of spider spinnerets–they’re really a bit mind-blowing. (And if you want to find out more about spiders and their evolution, trawl around through my other blog posts.)I think Walter is an “amateur”–quite an amazing hobby he’s got going there.

  2. jeffery
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    The colored bits in the “Coral sand” picture are probably tiny pieces of plastic.

  3. TrineBM
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    The bats! Awwww – they’re tiny gargoyles. Fantasy imitating art imitating life … or something or the other way around šŸ˜‰

    • impulse
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      They remind me of the Japanese wise monkeys, with from right to left: Mizaru (“see no evil”, covering his eyes), Iwazaru (“speak no evil”, covering his mouth), and Shizaru (“do no evil”, crossing his arms). For obvious reasons, Kikazaru, “hear no evil”, wouldn’t be a bat!

  4. Posted October 24, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Great stuff!

    It’s a Nikon-sponsored contest…but I have to wonder how many photos were made with a Canon camera and this lens:

    Nikon doesn’t offer anything comparable….



    • Notagod
      Posted October 24, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      I don’t know if all of them did but a lot of them had references to microscopes in the text at the bottom of the pictures. So the macro lens wouldn’t be needed?

      • Posted October 24, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        Generally, when using a microscope for high quality photography, you would mount the camera directly to the microscope — same thing with a telescope.

        But that spider shot at the top is a classic example of SLR macro lens photography. I’d be astounded if any microscope was used.


        • Notagod
          Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          How about this much shortened version, without a link to the photos.

          I used Leslie Brunetta’s link above to help find the original pictures. In the comments below the pictures the photographer wasn’t aware of being a second place winner šŸ™‚

          Canon is correct,50D, but, looks like the images were taken through a microscope.

          • Notagod
            Posted October 25, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            Since that worked I will try to make a munged link available:


            • Posted October 25, 2012 at 11:13 am | Permalink

              Thanks–I didn’t know about these additional photos. He’s pretty amazing, huh?

              • Notagod
                Posted October 27, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

                Yes! Leslie, have you seen all the others too?

                If not go to the photomacrography site and there is a search button just under the title graphic at the top of the page. On the search page, the second input bar is “Search for Author:”. Just put in “Walter Piorkowski” and a whole page of links to his pictures will be served for your enjoyment. Even spider teeth!

              • Posted October 27, 2012 at 6:04 am | Permalink

                Replying to your comment below: thanks again–I’ll do that.

            • Posted October 26, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

              That’s some pretty impressive work. He’s doing what’s called “focus stacking,” where you take one photo, move focus a small bit, take another photo, move focus the same amount, and so on, and then digitally combine the sharp bits of each photo into a single image.

              Obviously, there’s going to be significant amounts of automation, both in the changing of focus and the combining of images. But there’s still a hell of a lot of work involved, and do do all that with live subjects….


  5. Notagod
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I didn’t know ants have holes in their heads. That suggests they might be using some of the christian gods as well.

  6. JBlilie
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Really wonderful stuff, wow.

  7. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Myrmica sp. (ant) carrying its larva

    Well, technically it’s the queen’s larva, and (most likely) the worker ant’s sibling. Unless you want to take “its larva” to mean “a larva under its care”.

  8. marksolock
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  9. Notagod
    Posted October 25, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I’ve tried several times to reply to Ben above without success. This is just a test comment to see if I can comment here at all.

  10. Posted October 28, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Sarvodaya and commented:
    Talk about art imitating life. There’s a whole universe of beauty all around us, beyond the reach of the naked eye.

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