Tiny Beauties

These 10 Microscopic Photos Will Blow Your Mind

You and your kids will be amazed once you gaze upon these award-winning images of bugs, neurons, and even candle-wicks in microscopic detail.

Nikon’s Small World competition, founded in 1974 to highlight “excellence in photography through the microscope,” just released this year’s best pics of super tiny worlds. The winning images of cells, intestines, feet, and bugs were elected through a panel of judges who evaluated the photos based on originality, technical proficiency, and visual impact. Check out Nikon’s full Small World gallery here and keep tapping to see the top 10.

1st Place: Grigorii Timin & Dr. Michel Milinkovitch

This photo shows the embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko. Spooky! Photo method: Confocal; 63X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Grigorii Timin & Dr. Michel Milinkovitch/Nikon Small World

2nd Place: Dr. Caleb Dawson

This image depicts breast tissue showing contractile myoepithelial cells wrapped around milk-producing alveoli. Photo method: Confocal; 40X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Caleb Dawson/Nikon Small World

3rd Place: Satu Paavonsalo & Dr. Sinem Karaman

This stunning photo shows blood vessel networks in the intestine of an adult mouse. Photo method: Confocal; 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Satu Paavonsalo & Dr. Sinem Karaman/Nikon Small World

4th Place: Dr. Andrew Posselt

Ever wanted to see a microscopic photo of a long-bodied cellar/daddy long-legs spider (Pholcus phalangioides)? Photo method: Image Stacking; 3X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Andrew Posselt/Nikon Small World

5th Place: Alison Pollack

This image looks like an extraterrestrial bonsai, but it’s actually an image of a slime mold (Lamproderma). Photo method: Image Stacking, Reflected Light; 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Alison Pollack/Nikon Small World

6th Place: Ole Bielfeldt

This image shows what it looks like when unburned particles of carbon release when the hydrocarbon chain of candle wax breaks down. Photo method: Brightfield, Image Stacking; 2.5X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Ole Bielfeldt/Nikon Small World

7th Place: Dr. Jianqun Gao & Prof. Glenda Halliday

This image peeks inside a human brain and shows neurons derived from neural stem cells (NSCs) looks like. Photo method: Confocal, Fluorescence; 20X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Jianqun Gao & Prof. Glenda Halliday/Nikon Small World

8th Place: Dr. Nathanaël Prunet

Ever wanted to know what the growing tip of a red algae looked like at 10 times magnification? Now you do. Photo method: Confocal; 10X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Nathanël Prunet/Nikon Small World

9th Place: Dr. Marek Sutkowski

This might look like a piece of modernist art, but it’s actually a 40-times magnified image of liquid crystal mixture (smectic Felix 015). Photo method: Image Stacking, Polarized Light; 40X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Dr. Market Sutkowski/Nikon Small World

10th Place: Murat Öztürk

This, of course, is a fly under the chin of a tiger beetle. Photo method: Image Stacking; 3.7X (Objective Lens Magnification)

Murat Öztürk/Nikon Small World