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Contested images

Dec 2008
Lynn Savage,

Nikon recently announced the winners of its 2008 Small World Photomicrography Competition. Open to anyone with a camera and a microscope, the contest displays the fascinating world of objects that typically go unnoticed by most people. Many of the winning images were of biological entries, which is not surprising given how much interest there is in microscopic life and how much technical prowess has developed over the years. The photomicrographs by many of this year’s winners and runners-up also tend to place highly in Olympus’s similar BioScapes contest. It is well worth it each year to take a look at the stunning examples of these microscopists’ efforts.

Confocal image by Albert Tousson of the University of Alabama at Birmingham shows starch granules (green and yellow) amidst the cell walls (red) in a lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). All images courtesy of Nikon Small World.

What seems to be an alien landscape is instead a 10× image of the anticancer agent mitomycin. It was taken by Margaret Oechsli of the Jewish Hospital Heart and Lung Institute in Louisville, Ky.


Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Wash., used fiber optics illumination to acquire this 100× image of the wing scales of a sunset moth (Urania riphaeus).


Rachel Fink of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., acquired this bright-field image of newly fertilized eggs from the fish known as mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus).


This cross-sectional image of a chick’s retina at 400× was acquired by Andy Fischer of Ohio State University.


First place in Nikon’s Small World contest in 2008 was awarded to Michael Stringer for this photomicrograph of marine diatoms.


Monica Pons of Instituto de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona in Spain acquired this confocal image of the root of the plant thale cress, better known by its Latin name, Arabidopsis thaliana.


Using a technique called Rheinberg illumination, Charles Krebs produced this 200× image of part of the leg of a water boatman, an insect of the family Corixidae.

An instrument consisting essentially of a tube 160 mm long, with an objective lens at the distant end and an eyepiece at the near end. The objective forms a real aerial image of the object in the focal plane of the eyepiece where it is observed by the eye. The overall magnifying power is equal to the linear magnification of the objective multiplied by the magnifying power of the eyepiece. The eyepiece can be replaced by a film to photograph the primary image, or a positive or negative relay...
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