Photomicrography can produce some of the most stunning images imaginable. It involves making photographs of microscopic subjects, which can range anywhere from plant parts to skin cells to fabrics and everywhere in between. For the past 35 years, Nikon has been sponsoring an annual photomicrography competition; below are some of the winners from 2009.
Images for the contest are created by scientists and hobbyists alike, but the rules state that the photos have to be made with a light microscope and not an electron microscope. Often, the colors in the photographs are distorted for research purposes or for the sake of aesthetics; either way, these pictures are a fascinating look into a world that most of us never get to see.
Many of these images are created rather accidentally. A researcher may be looking for something entirely different and happen to snap a picture that turns out to be beautiful. It’s hard not to notice the inherent beauty in manyof the items that pass under the microscope each day.
The most beautiful pictures often come from surprising sources. Some of this year’s winners were pictures of fish ovaries, insect larvae, tiny sections of rock, and the reproductive organs of flowers.
Even snowflakes and sections of old coins can be surprisingly elegant under the right conditions. These photos show objects that we may see as commonplace or even ugly in everyday life, but when we see a tiny, magnified section of the same object it suddenly possesses great beauty.