Larger Than Life Photos Show Beauty Lurking Under the Microscope

Far from your typical photography competition, Nikon Small World reveals the hidden beauty of tiny things. The annual shortlist zooms in on the complexities of life under a powerful lens. This year's collection includes close-up shots of a mosquito heart, a wasp nest and even soy sauce.

Dr. John Hart

The rules of the game are simple: Any adult with a light microscope and a camera can send in microscopic photographs. That is the basis of the Small World Competition, a long-running event on the scientific calendar, organized by the camera-maker Nikon.

The entrants' work often resembles science-fiction artwork more than the plants, objects or creatures lying on the microscope slide. This year's crop of winners reveals a quirky beauty usually hidden from the naked eye.

Among the subjects under scrutiny by the winners are a wasps' nest, cancer cells and even soy sauce, as photographed by a Chinese scientist.

Mosquito's Heart

The top prize this year was taken by a close-up shot of a mosquito's heart, glowing in radiant blues and greens. It was taken by Jonas King, of the biological sciences department of Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tennessee.

For fans of microscopic photography, two Berlin-based exhibitions currently represent the artistic-scientific niche: They can be seen at the Photography Museum and the Alfred Ehrhardt Foundation until early January 2011.



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