Some photographers are drawn to wide-open landscapes -- the Grand Canyon, say. Others to the intensity of the human condition. The photographers who enter the Nikon Small World competition each year find life under a microscope their compelling canvas. The winners for 2013, announced last week, highlight living things that to the naked eye may seem mere squiggles or dots.
This year, first prize went to Wim van Egmond of the Netherlands, a freelance photographer and artist with, according to Nikon, "a passion for aquatic microorganisms" -- in this case the fragile yellow Chaetoceros debilis (a form of marine algae) shown below.
In its 39th year, the Nikon competition attracts microphotographers "from around the world, from all walks of life and scientific disciplines, with more and more incredible entries submitted each year,'" according to Eric Flem, communications manager for Nikon Instruments.
Of his prize-winning work, van Egmond said, "I approach micrographs as if they are portraits. The same way you look at a person and try to capture their personality, I observe an organism and try to capture it as honestly and realistically as possible."