Photography

Photographs made through microscope reveal hidden beauty of science

The entries in Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition may originate in the world of science, but they emerge in the universe of art, revealing the creativity, talent and vision of those making the images.

Esmeralda Paric & Holly Stefen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

This year’s first-place winner was Jason Kirk, who used a custom-made microscope to turn the biology of an oak leaf into ethereal images in white, floating against a landscape of purple and cyan.

Esmeralda Paric & Holly Stefen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

“White are the trichomes, which are fine outgrowths that protect a plant against extreme weather, microorganisms, and insects,” according to a Nikon news release. “In purple, Jason highlights the stomata, small pores that regulate the flow of gases in a plant. Colored in cyan are the vessels that transport water throughout the leaf. All three are essential to plant life.”

Esmeralda Paric & Holly Stefen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

First place: Trichome (white appendages) and stomata (purple pores) on a southern live oak leaf.

Jason Kirk/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Jason Kirk/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Esmeralda Paric, a research assistant in Australia’s Macquarie University Dementia Research Center, won second place for an image of 300,000 networking neurons.

Jason Kirk/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Second place: A microfluidic device containing 300k networking neurons in 2 isolated populations. Both sides were treated with a unique virus and bridged by axons.

Esmeralda Paric & Holly Stefen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Esmeralda Paric & Holly Stefen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Frank Reiser of Nassau Community College took third place for his picture of a rear leg, claw, and respiratory trachea of a hog louse.

Esmeralda Paric & Holly Stefen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Third place: Rear leg, claw, and respiratory trachea of a louse (Haematopinus suis).

Frank Reiser/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Frank Reiser/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

The contest, which was founded in 1974 for photography using microscopes, had almost 1,900 entries from 88 countries this year.

Frank Reiser/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Fourth place: Sensory neuron from an embryonic rat.

Paula Diaz/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Paula Diaz/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Fifth place: Proboscis of a housefly (Musca domestica).

Oliver Dum/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Oliver Dum/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Sixth place: 3D vasculature of an adult mouse brain (somatosensory cortex).

Dr. Andrea Tedeschi/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Dr. Andrea Tedeschi/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Seventh place: Head of a tick.

Dr. Tong Zhang & Dr. Paul Stoodley/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Dr. Tong Zhang & Dr. Paul Stoodley/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Eighth place: Cross section of mouse intestine.

Dr. Amy Engevik/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Dr. Amy Engevik/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Ninth place: Water flea (Daphnia), carrying embryos and peritrichs.

DJan van IJken/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

DJan van IJken/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

10th place: Vein and scales on a butterfly wing (Morpho didius).

Sébastien Malo/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Sébastien Malo/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Kirk, director of Baylor College of Medicine’s Optical Imaging & Vital Microscopy Core, used complex lighting techniques and made about 200 images that he placed on top of each other.

Sébastien Malo/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

11th place: Vasculature of a mouse retina.

Jason Kirk & Carlos P. Flores Suarez/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Jason Kirk & Carlos P. Flores Suarez/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

12th place: Breast organoid showing contractile myoepithelial cells (blue) crawling on secretory breast cells (red).

Jakub Sumbal/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Jakub Sumbal/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

13th place: Cotton fabric with pollen grains.

Dr. Felice Placenti/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Dr. Felice Placenti/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

14th place: Snowflake.

Dr. Joern N. Hopke/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Dr. Joern N. Hopke/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

15th place: Diatom (Arachnoidiscus).

Bernard Allard/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Bernard Allard/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

16th place: An in vivo snapshot of the neurons surrounding the mouth and tentacles of a juvenile starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis).

Ruohan Zhong/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Ruohan Zhong/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

17th place: Filamentous strands of Nostoc cyanobacteria captured inside a gelatinous matrix.

Martin Kaae Kristiansen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Martin Kaae Kristiansen/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

18th place: Table salt crystal.

Saulius Gugis/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Saulius Gugis/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

19th place: Calcite crystal inclusion suspended in a spinel gemstone.

Billie Hughes/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Billie Hughes/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

20th place: Slime mold (Arcyria pomiformis).

Alison Pollack/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

Alison Pollack/Courtesy of Nikon Small World

More from the Post

Here are 14 of the week’s best photos

The latest from The Washington Post

Credits

Photo editing by Annaliese Nurnberg. Text by Kathy Lally