Occasionally I come across a set of pictures on Newscom that will blow my mind. These photos fit snugly into that category. They’re part of a branch of photography called photomicrography which uses microscopes and special camera equipment to take pictures on a ridiculously tiny scale. Surprisingly enough, this technology has been around since the 1800’s. It was much more difficult then and scientists/photographers went through massive amounts of film trying to capture that perfect image. Now, with digital photography, the process is much more streamlined since the person taking the picture can preview what the picture will actually look like.
The stunning colors that many of the photomicrographs feature comes from a pallet of florescent proteins that researchers have access to. These proteins allow the subjects of the photomicrographs to be illuminated under the microscope instead of coming out as just grey. It also makes for spectacular and visually appealing images.
Aside from their scientific and overall aesthetic appeal, or perhaps because of it, in 1974 Nikon started the Nikon’s Small World photomicrography competition. This competition is open to anyone who takes pictures through a microscope, whether that person is a scientist working in a lab or a hobbyist who does it in his/her free time. Each picture is judged by a panel of experts and the winners must excel in four categories: originality, information content, technical proficiency, and visual impact. (The photo above received a 3rd place in 2008, for reference.)
Perhaps the main reason I got really excited over these pictures isn’t just because of how beautiful they are. They also show that science doesn’t have to be all equations and slightly nerdy men debating terms that nobody else in the room understands. Science can be creative and visually stunning too. Case in point:
If you want to see more amazing pictures like these, we have a whole lightbox full of them back at Newscom.
Or you can read more about the crazy world of science with these posts: