There's so much more to the world than what we can see with the naked eye, so sometimes we need help dialing into the details. That's what Nikon's Small World Photomicrography Competition is all about. Nikon announced the winners earlier this month, but I'm going to start off by highlighting one of the runners-up, a highly, highly magnified image of an ant.
The 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.
If the ant grabs you, be sure to visit the full Nikon Small World winners gallery. The top place for 2022 went to an image of the embryonic hand of a Madagascar gecko, taken by Grigorii Timin of the University of Geneva. The stunning view is magnified 63 times. The gecko's bones, tendons and skin are visible and nerves show up in cyan.
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 grandis day gecko," Nikon said in a statement. It's a stunner.
If you're still in a spooky mood, then I've got a couple more Small World highlights for 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 notably unsettling image shows a fly tucked in under the chin of a tiger beetle. The colorful image comes from Murat Ozturk and placed 10th. It doesn't look like things turned out well for the fly.
The otherworldly insect images are lookers, but there's plenty to be impressed with among the winners, from the ethereal beauty of moth eggs to the eye-catching color of slime molds. It shows how zooming in on the hidden side of life reveals entire worlds that are usually beyond our vision.