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20 stunning microscopic photos from the Nikon Small World 2020 competition

We’ve chosen our favourites from this year’s winners.

The Nikon Small World Photography Competition is an annual celebration of all things teeny-weeny tiny, and gets us science photography fans very excited. Open to entries from professionals and amateurs alike, the subject matter is diverse and always a visual treat.

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This year’s crop of winners from the competition have just been announced, and there are some truly stunning images from a wide-range of visual disciplines. Here are some of the images that stood out for us.

Take a look at some of our other picture stories:

1

See-through Zebrafish – Overall Winner

Dorsal view of bones and scales (blue) and lymphatic vessels (orange) in a juvenile zebrafish Confocal 4X (Objective Lens Magnification
Dorsal view of bones and scales (blue) and lymphatic vessels (orange) in a juvenile zebrafish
Daniel Castranova, Dr. Brant Weinstein & Bakary Samasa/Nikon Small World

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2

Send In The Clowns –  Second Place Overall

Embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days 1, 3 (morning and evening), 5, and 9 Image Stacking 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Embryonic development of a clownfish (Amphiprion percula) on days 1 & 3 (morning and evening), 5 & 9
Daniel Knop/Nikon Small World
3

Salty Snail Tongue – Third Place Overall

Tongue (radula) of a freshwater snail Confocal 40X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Tongue (radula) of a freshwater snail
Dr. Igor Siwanowicz/Nikon Small World
4

Chameleon Embryo – Top 20 Images

Chameleon embryo (autofluorescence) Fluorescence 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Chameleon embryo
Dr. Allan Carrillo-Baltodano & David Salamanca/Nikon Small World
5

Crystal Vision – Top 20 Images

Crystals formed after heating an ethanol and water solution containing L-glutamine and beta-alanine Polarized Light 4X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Crystals formed after heating an ethanol & water solution containing L-glutamine and beta-alanine
Justin Zoll/Nikon Small World
6

Human Hair – Top 20 Images

Human hair Image Stacking 20X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Human hair
Robert Vierthaler/Nikon Small World
7

Roller Weevil – Top 20 Images

Leaf roller weevil (Byctiscus betulae) lateral view. Reflected Light 3.7X (Objective Lens Magnification).
Leaf roller weevil (Byctiscus betulae) lateral view
Özgür Kerem Bulur/Nikon Small World
8

Tight tights – Top 20 Images

Nylon stockings Polarized Light 9X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Nylon stockings
Alexander Klepnev/Nikon Small World
9

Moth To A Microscope – Top 20 Images

Atlas moth wing Image Stacking 10x (Objective Lens Magnification)
Atlas moth wing
Chris Perani/Nikon Small World
10

Plain Batty – Top 20 Images

Skeleton preparation of a short-tailed fruit bat embryo (Carollia perspicillata) Brightfield 1X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Skeleton preparation of a short-tailed fruit bat embryo (Carollia perspicillata)
Dr. Dorit Hockman & Dr. Vanessa Chong-Morrison/Nikon Small World
11

Phantom of the Larva – Honourable Mention

Phantom midge larva Darkfield, Image Stacking, Polarized Light 4X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Phantom midge larva
Christopher Algar/Nikon Small World
12

LCD Phone Screen – Honourable Mention

Liquid crystals in a mobile LCD screen Brightfield 20X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Liquid crystals in a mobile LCD screen
Alexey Marchenko/Nikon Small World
13

Shiver Me Timber Beetle – Honourable Mention

Ship-timber beetle (Lymexylidae) Image Stacking. 5X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Ship-timber beetle (Lymexylidae) 
Marco Retana/Nikon Small World
14

Vinyl countdown – Images of Distinction

Old vinyl record Differential Interference Contrast (DIC)
Old vinyl record
Alexander Klepnev/Nikon Small World
15

Horse Fly – Images of Distinction

Horse-fly (Tabanidae) Image Stacking, Reflected Light 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Horse-fly (Tabanidae)
Andrei Nica/Nikon Small World
16

Into the Sunset – Images of Distinction

Scales of a Madagascan sunset butterfly wing. Image Stacking 20X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Scales of a Madagascan sunset butterfly wing
Don Komarechka/Nikon Small World
17

A Budding Photographer – Images of Distinction

Interior of an unopened Camellia flower bud showing immature anther and filament. Reflected Light, Image Stacking 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Interior of an unopened Camellia flower bud showing immature anther and filament
Charles Krebs/Nikon Small World
18

Heads Up – Images of Distinction

Head of a tapeworm (Taenia pisiformis) Differential Interference Contrast (DIC) 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Head of a tapeworm (Taenia pisiformis)
Dr. David Maitland/Nikon Small World
19

Moth to a Flame – Images of Distinction

Moth (Ctenucha brunnea) Image Stacking 5X (Objective Lens Magnification)
Moth (Ctenucha brunnea)
Dr. Andrew Posselt/Nikon Small World