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.
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.