Tiny Grandeur: Stunning Photos of the Very Small

Small Worlds

nikon small world photomicrograph

(Image credit: Nikon Small World Competition)

The Nikon International Small World Competition awards photographers for their renderings of the beauty and complexity of teensy things through the light microscope. The resulting photomicrographs must not only awe but also contribute significantly to various scientific disciplines. From alien-looking insects and worms to cells that would make stunning decorations, the 2011 award-winning photographs are both stunning and informative. Take a stroll into the world of the small.

Tiny Monster

Green lacewing wins Small World competition 2011.

(Image credit: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology Martinsried, Germany )

First place in the 2011 Nikon Small World photograph competition went to this photograph of an itsy-bitsy green lacewing larva. The bug landed on photographer Igor Siwanowicz and bit him; Siwanowicz retaliated by turning the insect into art.

Leaves of Grass

Blade of grass takes second place in Nikon Small World contest.

(Image credit: Dr. Donna Stolz University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA )

A blade of grass magnified 200 times took 2nd place in the Nikon Small World photography competition, 2011.

Bit of Algae

Third place in the Nikon Small World 2011 competition.

(Image credit: Frank Fox Fachhochschule Trier Trier, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany )

The third place winner of the 2011 Nikon Small World contest was this photo of living Melosira monliformis, a type of algae.

Fluorescent Beauty

4th place in the Nikon Small World contest.

(Image credit: Dr. Robin Young The University of British Columbia Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada )

Robin Young of the University of British Columbia took 4th place in the Nikon contest with this magnified image of liverwort.

A-maze-ing

Fifth places in the Nikon Small World Contest 2011

(Image credit: Alfred Pasieka Germany )

Get ultra-close with electronics with this 5th-place winner of the Nikon Small World contest. This is the surface of a microchip.

Broken Windows

6th place in the Nikon Small World contest 2011.

(Image credit: Dennis Callahan California Institute of Technology Pasadena, California, USA )

Sixth places in the Nikon Small World contest went to Dennis Callahan for this picture of cracked gallium arsenide solar cell films.

Bright Lights

7th place in the 2011 Nikon Small World contest

(Image credit: Gabriel Luna UC Santa Barbara, Neuroscience Research Institute Santa Barbara, California, USA )

This image of mouse nerve fibers lit up the judges and won 7th place in the 2011 Nikon Small World contest.

Stained Glass Rocks

Bernardo Cesare 8th place in the Nikon Small World competition.

(Image credit: Dr. Bernardo Cesare Department of Geosciences Padova, Italy )

Italian geoscientist Bernardo Cesare took 8th place in the Nikon contest for this close-up image of a graphite-bearing granulite from India. Cesare talked to LiveScience about his work in August; see more of his beautiful photography here.

Itsy-Bitsy Ocean-Dweller

Nikon Small World 2011 9th place winner.

(Image credit: Dr. Jan Michels Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel Kiel, Germany )

The marine copepod Temora longicornis takes on subtle hues in this 9th-place-winning photograph.

Hello, Flea

Water flea wins 10th in the Nikon Small World competition 2011.

(Image credit: Joan Röhl Institute for Biochemistry and Biology Potsdam, Germany )

Don't be bashful, little flea -- you've won 10th place in the 2011 Nikon Small World contest. This is a freshwater water flea, Daphnia magna.