As every year around these dates the winners of the contest are announced Nikon Small World, contest sponsored by the instruments division of the well-known brand and that rewards, 47 years ago, the best microscopic photography images. A complex discipline whose images are always amazing, because they show things that the eye is unable to see and they discover us a fascinating world.
The first prize this year was for the photo that you have seen on the cover, taken by Jason kirk, and showing the trichomes (the white appendages), stomata (the purple pores) and vessels (the cyan-colored areas) of a southern live oak leaf (an evergreen tree native to the southern US). The image was made with a custom made microscope by this scientist during the pandemic in order to practice photomicrography in his own home.
Jason, who runs the Optical Imaging & Vital Microscopy Core from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, tells how he has “He learned a lot from the scientific community, having spent over 20 years in this field doing microscopy at a fairly high level. But I have also learned a lot from the people around the fans. Small World is a great combination of these two areas, and it is something that is not usually seen regularly.“.
About the shot, the author highlights that the most complicated was the lighting: “Microscope objectives are small and have a very shallow depth of focus. You couldn’t just put a giant light next to the microscope and make the lighting directional. It would be like trying to illuminate the head of a pin with a light source the size of your head. Almost impossible“.
This is why Jason used reflected and diffused light on both sides of the blade, made around 200 shots individual sheets and stacked them to create a stunning image, also correcting temperature and color tone in post-production.
The jury, which says it is amazed every year by the level of talent that is presented to the contest, highlights that the winning photo is “a masterful example of the dynamic relationship between imaging technology and artistic creativity“And it is precisely this contest“was created to show the world how art and science come together under the microscope and this year’s first place winner couldn’t be a better example of that combination.“.
Of course, this was not the only photo chosen; in fact a total of 100 images divided, like last year, between a TOP 20 of featured photos, 14 honorable mentions and 66 distinguished images (among which there are some made by Spaniards).
We leave you with the images of the TOP 20 and, this time more than ever, we recommend a visit to the web to see other winning images.
Nikon Small World 2021 TOP 20:
First place: ‘Trichome (white appendages) and stomata (purple pores) on a southern live oak leaf’ by Dr. Jason Kirk
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’ by Esmeralda Paric
Third place: ‘Rear leg, claw, and respiratory trachea of a louse (Haematopinus suis)’ by Frank Reiser
Position 4: ‘Sensory neuron from an embryonic rat’ by Paula Diaz
Position 5: ‘Proboscis of a housefly (Musca domestica)’ by Oliver Dum
Position 6: ‘3D vasculature of an adult mouse brain (somatosensory cortex)’ by Dr. Andrea Tedeschi
Position 7: ‘Head of a tick’ by Dr. Tong Zhang
Position 8: ‘Cross section of mouse intestine’ by Dr. Amy Engevik
Position 9: ‘Water flea (Daphnia), carrying embryos and peritrichs’ by Jan van IJken
Position 10: ‘Vein and scales on a butterfly wing (Morpho didius)’ by Sébastien Malo
Position 11: ‘Vasculature of a mouse retina’ by Jason Kirk
Position 12: ‘Breast organoid showing contractile myoepithelial cells (blue) crawling on secretory breast cells (red)’ by Jakub Sumbal
Position 13: ‘Cotton fabric with pollen grains’ by Dr. Felice Placenti
Position 14: ‘Snowflake’ by Dr. Joern N. Hopke
Position 15: ‘Diatom (Arachnoidiscus)’ by Bernard Allard
Position 16: ‘An in vivo snapshot of the neurons surrounding the mouth and tentacles of a juvenile starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis)’ by Ruohan Zhong
Position 17: ‘Filamentous strands of Nostoc cyanobacteria captured inside a gelatinous matrix’ by Martin Kaae Kristiansen
Position 18: ‘Table salt crystal’ by Saulius Gugis
Position 19: ‘Calcite crystal inclusion suspended in a spinel gemstone’ by Billie Hughes
Position 20: ‘Slime mold (Arcyria pomiformis)’ by Alison Pollack
More information and photos | Nikon Small World 2021
Cover photo | ‘Trichome (white appendages) and stomata (purple pores) on a southern live oak leaf’ by Dr. Jason Kirk. Nikon Small World 2021 Winner