Nikon’s Photomicrography Competition gives you a new view of the world


(Pocket-lint) – Each year the International Small World Competition plays host to some seriously impressive Photomicrography images that astound, amaze and leave us aghast. 

The competition has been running since 1975 and there have been some incredible winners over the years that have passed. This year’s entries are pretty incredible, so we’ve selected some of the most interesting for you to enjoy. We’d highly recommend taking a look at the full gallery of winners and entries from this year too. 

Hui Lin Dr. Kim McBride/Nikon Small WorldPhotomicrography Competition gives you a new view of the world photo 1

Human cardiomyocytes (heart cells)

A lot of these photomicrography images are fascinating and eye-opening because they give you a new view, that you’ve likely never seen before, of something you’ve probably encountered in everyday life. 

In this instance, the image is of a human heart cell. It was taken by Hui Lin and Dr. Kim McBride from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, USA. And was selected as the 20th-place winner in this year’s awards. 

This image was crafted using 60 x magnification and the Fluorescence imaging technique. This uses high-intensity lighting to excite fluorescent molecules and results in longer wavelengths and beautiful images like this

Bacterial biofilm on a human tongue cell

Some of these images appear beautiful, colourful and intriguing. Then you find out what they and wish you hadn’t seen it. 

This, for example, is an image of the bacterial biofilm on a human tongue cell. Now imagine what your tongue looks like, then go and give it a good brush. 

This Confocal image got 19th place in this year’s awards. 

A zebrafish intestine

Here’s another colourful view and one you’re unlikely to guess what it is. This is a 60 times magnified view of the white blood cells in a zebrafish intestine. Curiously pretty. 

Alaskan Sand

We love when these photomicrography images show us how beautiful the world is. Sometimes it’s simple minute details in things we’d never normally see this close up. This is sand viewed at 10 times magnification, yet it looks like colourful gems. 

Blood vessel networks

This is another of those beautiful images that actually is thoroughly unpleasant when you learn what it is. This colourful view is a 10 times magnified view of the blood vessel networks in the intestines of a mouse.  

This image by Satu Paavonsalo and Dr. Sinem Karaman from the University of Helsinki was selected for the third-place winner for this year’s competition. 

Slime mould

It seems that mould is one of those things that’s fascinating when you look up close. Colourful and intricate in its minute detail. 

This photomicrograph image required the use of both reflected light and image stacking, but the results are pretty incredible. 

If you like the look of this one, there are a lot of other mould entries from previous years worth looking at too. 

Carbon candle

This mesmerising view shows unburned carbon particles releasing from a candle wick. The level of detail on these close shots is impressive, even at just 2 and a half times magnification. 

A fly and tiger beetle

The 10th-place photo in the photomicrography competition shows a view of a fly falling prey to a tiger beetle. 

These close views of insects are fascinating with the intricate details including tiny hairs and even the lines on their eyes. 

Agatized dinosaur bone

Dinosaur bones are already fairly impressive, but if you take a close-up look at them, as with this 60 times magnified view, then you get to see even more incredible detail. 

Human colon

This is a colourful view of what looks like something floral but is actually a human colon. It was taken with a Brightfield photography technique at 20 times magnification.  

Midge larva

This photomicrography image was captured using polarised light and shows a Midge larva collected from a freshwater pond. This sort of photography certainly makes these creatures appearing more visually appealing and wonderfully colourful. 

A cell dividing

At 60 times magnification, you can even see the details of what happens when a cell divides. Certainly not something you’d be able to witness in everyday life with ease. 

A traumatic brain injury

If you had to imagine what a brain injury might look like then we’re pretty sure that you wouldn’t think it would be this colourful or curious. 

This is an intriguing view of a murine sensory-motor cortex following mild traumatic brain injury in a transgenic mouse. It was taken by Dr. Andrea Tedeschi from The Ohio State University and selected as 33rd place in this year’s awards. 

Butterfly egg

Butterflies are already impressive enough, but have you ever seen their eggs magnified like this? This is image is seen at 10 times magnification with an image stacking technique to show the beauty of nature even on the smallest scale. 

Ancient winged ant

This view might not be as magnified as the others on the list (or in the gallery) but it’s certainly no less impressive. 

This is a close look at a winged ant that’s been trapped in amber for around 20 million years. Incredible. 


We’ve never really thought of ants as being terrifying. This image though might change our minds. A really close-up and personal view of an ant’s face makes them seem worryingly evil. 

Dental drill bit

If you’re already not a fan of going to the dentist then this image probably won’t help. It’s a four times magnification view of a dentist’s drill bit which has been encrusted with diamond chips. 

Jumping spider

Most people would say that spiders aren’t cute. Even if you’re not an arachnophobe you probably wouldn’t fancy a cuddle with a spider, but this little chap sure is photogenic.  

Writing by Adrian Willings.


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