Buzzworthy photos: Contest winners bring microscopic beauty to the masses

Nikon announced the winners Wednesday for the annual photomicrography contest, supporting a relationship between scientific research and artistic value. 

Ralph Grimm
Australian Ralph Grimm won 1st place in Nikon's Small World photo contest for his image of a bee's eye.

Nikon Instruments announced the 2015 winners of the annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition Wednesday, marveling photographers and viewers alike with never-before-seen images of the microscopic world.

This year’s contest received over 2,000 submissions from 83 countries around the world. In a nod to level of competition for this year's prize, Nikon named a Top Twenty images, as well as 12 Honorable Mentions and 56 Images of Distinction.

“Each year we are blown away by the incredible quality and quantity of microscopic images submitted from all over the world, from scientists, artists, and photomicrographers of all levels and backgrounds,” Eric Flem, communications manager of Nikon Instruments said in a press release. “The year was certainly no exception.”

As a former beekeeper, Mr. Grimm worked with a subject that he feels deserves more attention.

“In a way I feel as though this gives us a glimpse of the world through the eye of a bee,” Grimm told Nikon. “It’s a subject of great sculptural beauty, but also a warning – that we should stay connected to our planet, listen to the little creatures like bees, and find a way to protect the earth that we all call home.”

Grimm spent four hours trying to capture the winning photo, meticulously mounting the eye on a microscope while tackling focusing and lighting obstacles.

Kristen Earle and her colleagues at Stanford University won 2nd place for their photo of a mouse colon.

Kristen Earle, Gabriel Billings, KC Huang & Justin Sonnenburg
This 2nd place photograph was taken by researchers with Stanford University School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology in Stanford, California. The image is a mouse colon colonized with human microbiota.

And Dr. Igor Siwanowicz’s photo of a freshwater carnivorous plant, the humped baldderwort, won 3rd place.

Dr. Igor Siwanowicz
Dr. Igor Siwanowicz won 3rd place for his photo of a freshwater carnivorous plant the humped bladderwort.

The winning images will travel through the US with the Small World Exhibit. The variety of judges highlights the cross-discipline style of the contest, with two of the judges working with photography and the other two judges holding PhD's in biological fields.

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