Ordinary Is Extraordinary in 2011 Nikon Small World Photo Contest

From down feathers to tree leaves to needle-and-thread, a few of life’s most ordinary objects become unrecognizably beautiful when placed under the microscope, showcased at Nikon's annual Small World Photomicrography Competition.

Ant Head

Ant head: the frontal view of an ant head magnified 10X.

Dr. Jan Michels/Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

Blade of Grass

Blade of grass: magnified 200X, the colors and light are produced through autofluorescence, the natural emitting of light by biological entities.

Dr. Donna Stolz/University of Pittsburg

Snowflake

Snowflake: magnified 4X, with reflected and transmitted light.

Yanping Wang/Beijing Planetarium

Sand

Various grains of sand: magnified 4X.

Yanping Wang/Beijing Planetarium

Hard Disk

Computer hard drive: the read/write head slider of a 20GB hard disk is magnified using an episcopic oblique brightfield.

Dr. Gregor Overney/Agilent Technologies

Down Feather

Down feather: Soft and textured, a wisp of down capture up close.

Harry Leung/Immune Disease Institute, Harvard Medical School

Aspen Leaf

Aspen leaf: the intricate system of veins is on full display in this quaking aspen leaf magnified 4X using a safranin-stain.

Benjamin Blonder, David Elliott/University of Arizona

Threading the Needle

Needle eye threaded with yarn

Marc van Hove/Centexbel

Nikon Small World

For more stunning photos of life seen through the microscope, and the chance to vote on your favorite, check out Nikon Small World!

Nikon Small World

Ordinary Is Extraordinary in 2011 Nikon Small World Photo Contest

From down feathers to tree leaves to needle-and-thread, a few of life’s most ordinary objects become unrecognizably beautiful when placed under the microscope, showcased at Nikon's annual Small World Photomicrography Competition.

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