Nikon’s Small World Photo Contest Winners Reveal Invisible Wonders
Oscar Wilde wrote that “life imitates art much more than art imitates life”. Artists, he meant, help us see the beauty of the world around us by showing us beautiful things. Maybe we like the look of the water lilies because of Monet’s beautiful impressionist paintings.
By challenging artist-scientists to find beauty in life’s smallest creation – think snowflakes, bugs and neurons – Nikon’s Small World photomicrography competition could take Wilde’s sentiment to another level .
After checking out the 2021 winners in the gallery below, don’t be too surprised if the house fly that is currently buzzing around your living room starts looking rather dazzling to you.
Out of nearly 1,900 entries from 88 countries, the competition, now in its 47th year, selected a stunning top 20. The first photo captures translucent white appendages blooming on the purple pores of a cyan oak leaf. To get the shot, winner Jason Kirk swelled the sheet 60 times. Sixty times! Imagine that you pinch and zoom your iPhone photos fully 60 times, but the image remains super-focused.
âThe lighting side was complicated,â Kirk said in a statement. âThe objectives of the microscope are small and have a very shallow depth of field. I couldn’t just stick a giant light next to the microscope and have the lighting be directional. It would be like trying to light the head of a pin with a light source. this is the size of your head. Almost impossible. “
Nikon Small World Photography winners see art in tiny and remarkable worlds
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Other winning images include one that shows neon green wispy threads around a mouse’s sensory neuron that make the cell look like a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish. One displays the 3D cerebrovascular system of a second mouse reminiscent of a winter wonderland, and the ship forest fits perfectly with another artist’s winning image – a single, crystal-clear snowflake that puts showcasing nature’s ability to create perfect symmetry.
These images could easily be hung alongside the abstract art pieces found in The Whitney and spark a discussion about color theory and surrealism. Even if you are not a science lover, it is hard not to look at these unique works of art. They help us peek into worlds that are usually almost invisible.