The Nikon’s Small World Photomicrography Competition always surprises everyone with scary and unique photographs which force the human mind to question their vision ability. Nikon announced the winners last week, but I’m going to start off by highlighting one of the runners-up, an image of an ant. The highly magnified ant photo is from wildlife photographer Eugenijus Kavaliauskas, who has a glorious portfolio you could lose yourself in for hours. The image has attracted some attention on social media, perhaps due to a combination of its haunting nature and the proximity of Halloween. It looks like something that crawled out of an orc pit in Middle-earth. The photographer told everyone about his journey as;
“When I first started with microphotography, I, too, thought all beetles looked a little like monsters, But now, I’ve gotten used to it, and am surprised that there are so many interesting, beautiful, and unknown miracles under our feet.”
While striking, the image did not clinch the contest’s top prize. For his photo of the ant, Kavaliauskas won one Nikon item with a retail value of $35. Kavaliauskas’ submission was one of the 57 selected “Images of Distinction”. The picture of the ant’s face, magnified five times under a microscope, won one Nikon item valued at $35. The magnified picture of an ant’s face was honored as an “Image of Distinction”.
The face in the photograph had red eyes and what appeared to be golden fangs. The image attracted some attention on social media as well, with one user even calling it “horrifying”.
The top honor and a $3,000 cash prize went to Grigorii Timin and Michel Milinkovitch from the University of Geneva’s department of genetics and evolution. The duo captured a Madagascar giant day gecko’s front paw in brilliant, fluorescent detail.
“But it’s boring to take a photo of an ant, running banally, on the ground,” Kavaliauskas said. And so he put the ant under a microscope and took snapshots.
“I’m always looking for details, shadows, and unseen corners. The main goal of photography is to be a discoverer. I am fascinated by the Creator’s masterpieces and the opportunity to see God’s designs.”
In response to questions about what the ant looked like under the microscope, Kavaliauskas said “there are no horrors in nature.”
The gecko foot is made up of hundreds of images. “Masterfully blending imaging technology and artistic creativity, Timin utilized high-resolution microscopy and image-stitching to capture this species of Phelsuma Grandi’s day gecko,” Nikon said in a statement. It’s a stunner.
“This particular image is beautiful and informative, as an overview and also when you magnify it in a certain region, shedding light on how the structures are organized on a cellular level,” Timin said in a Nikon news release.
There are some other very spooky visuals from the Nikon competition that we can share with you. Here’s a ghost-like anemone larva found in marine plankton, taken by Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum. As far as phantom-like creatures go, it’s pretty cute. The photo earned an honorable mention.
Another weird and creative is the image that shows a fly tucked in under the chin of a tiger beetle. The colorful image comes from Murat Ozturk and is placed 10th. It doesn’t look like things turned out well for the fly.
The photomicrography contest is open to anyone interested in microscopy and photography, per Nikon. This year marked the 48th time the competition was held. The winning snaps were selected from 1,300 entries and announced on October 11. The 2023 competition is now welcoming submissions, which have to be sent in for consideration before April 30, 2023.