Ralph Claus Grimm
Ralph Claus Grimm

Eye of a Honeybee Wins Microscope Photography Competition

Ralph Claus Grimm
Ralph Claus Grimm

The eye of a honeybee dusted with pollen, the colon of a mouse colonized with human microbiota, and a human mammary gland organoid grown in the lab are among the top five winning images in Nikon's Small World photomicrography competition. Now in its 41st year, the competition highlights photos taken under the microscope, often by science researchers working in a range of disciplines.

Out of 2000 entries drawn from 83 countries, the four judges—two scientists, a science journalist, and a photo editor at a popular science magazine—chose Ralph Grimm's honeybee eye for the top prize. Grimm is an Australian high school teacher, self-taught photomicrographer, and former beekeeper. It took him four hours to mount, light, and photograph the eye of Apis mellifera, which is magnified 120 times. 

Here are some of our favorite photos (not all are from the top five!), which were shot using a range of techniques, including confocal microscopy, differential interference contrast, and reflected light (Grimm's choice). You can see dozens more in the online gallery of winning pictures. 

3rd Place: Intake of a humped bladderwort (Utricularia gibba), a freshwater carnivorous plant (100x). Winner: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), Janelia Farm Research Campus, Leonardo Lab, Ashburn, VA.

4th Place: Lab-grown human mammary gland organoid (100x). Winners: Daniel H. Miller & Ethan S. Sokol, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Biology Cambridge, Mass.

8th Place: Nerves and blood vessels in a mouse ear skin (10x). Winner: Dr. Tomoko Yamazaki, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD.

16th place: Feeding rotifers (Floscularia ringens) (50x). Winner: Charles B. Krebs, Charles Krebs Photography, Issaquah, WA.

18th place: Hairyback worm (Chaetonotus sp.) and algae (Micrasterias sp.) (400x). Winner: Roland Gross, Gruenen, Bern, Switzerland

Honorable mention: Detail of jewel beetle (Coleoptera Buprestidae) (32x). Winner: Dr. Luca Toledano, Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona, Verona, Italy
5 Things You Might Not Know About Ansel Adams

You probably know Ansel Adams—who was born on February 20, 1902—as the man who helped promote the National Park Service through his magnificent photographs. But there was a lot more to the shutterbug than his iconic, black-and-white vistas. Here are five lesser-known facts about the celebrated photographer.


Adams was a four-year-old tot when the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck his hometown. Although the boy managed to escape injury during the quake itself, an aftershock threw him face-first into a garden wall, breaking his nose. According to a 1979 interview with TIME, Adams said that doctors told his parents that it would be best to fix the nose when the boy matured. He joked, "But of course I never did mature, so I still have the nose." The nose became Adams' most striking physical feature. His buddy Cedric Wright liked to refer to Adams' honker as his "earthquake nose.


Adams was an energetic, inattentive student, and that trait coupled with a possible case of dyslexia earned him the heave-ho from private schools. It was clear, however, that he was a sharp boy—when motivated.

When Adams was just 12 years old, he taught himself to play the piano and read music, and he quickly showed a great aptitude for it. For nearly a dozen years, Adams focused intensely on his piano training. He was still playful—he would end performances by jumping up and sitting on his piano—but he took his musical education seriously. Adams ultimately devoted over a decade to his study, but he eventually came to the realization that his hands simply weren't big enough for him to become a professional concert pianist. He decided to leave the keys for the camera after meeting photographer Paul Strand, much to his family's dismay.


If you've ever enjoyed Kings Canyon National Park in California, tip your cap to Adams. In the 1930s Adams took a series of photographs that eventually became the book Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail. When Adams sent a copy to Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, the cabinet member showed it to Franklin Roosevelt. The photographs so delighted FDR that he wouldn't give the book back to Ickes. Adams sent Ickes a replacement copy, and FDR kept his with him in the White House.

After a few years, Ickes, Adams, and the Sierra Club successfully convinced Roosevelt to make Kings Canyon a national park in 1940. Roosevelt's designation specifically provided that the park be left totally undeveloped and roadless, so the only way FDR himself would ever experience it was through Adams' lenses.


While many of his contemporary fine art photographers shunned commercial assignments as crass or materialistic, Adams went out of his way to find paying gigs. If a company needed a camera for hire, Adams would generally show up, and as a result, he had some unlikely clients. According to The Ansel Adams Gallery, he snapped shots for everyone from IBM to AT&T to women's colleges to a dried fruit company. All of this commercial print work dismayed Adams's mentor Alfred Stieglitz and even worried Adams when he couldn't find time to work on his own projects. It did, however, keep the lights on.


Adams and legendary painter O'Keeffe were pals and occasional traveling buddies who found common ground despite their very different artistic approaches. They met through their mutual friend/mentor Stieglitz—who eventually became O'Keeffe's husband—and became friends who traveled throughout the Southwest together during the 1930s. O'Keeffe would paint while Adams took photographs.

These journeys together led to some of the artists' best-known work, like Adams' portrait of O'Keeffe and a wrangler named Orville Cox, and while both artists revered nature and the American Southwest, Adams considered O'Keeffe the master when it came to capturing the area. 

“The Southwest is O’Keeffe’s land,” he wrote. “No one else has extracted from it such a style and color, or has revealed the essential forms so beautifully as she has in her paintings.”

The two remained close throughout their lives. Adams would visit O'Keeffe's ranch, and the two wrote to each other until Adams' death in 1984.

David Nadlinger
This Photo of a Single Atom Won a Science Photography Top Prize
David Nadlinger
David Nadlinger

While you've been busy finding just the right Instagram filter for your cat, a University of Oxford graduate student has been occupied with visualizing a single atom and capturing it in a still frame. And the remarkable feat recently earned an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council photography award. Why? It was taken with a conventional camera, and the atom can be seen with the naked eye.

Take a look:

A close-up of a single atom in an ion trap
David Nadlinger

That tiny dot in between the two parallel metal electrodes is a strontium atom suspended by electric fields in an ion trap. It’s visible because the photographer, Ph.D. candidate David Nadlinger, projected blue violet light into a vacuum chamber. The atom absorbed and reflected the light, allowing Nadlinger to snap a photo in the split instant the atom was viewable. The space between the two points is just 0.08 of an inch.

Nadlinger dubbed the image "Single Atom in an Ion Trap" and took the Council’s top award. In a statement, he expressed enthusiasm that other people are now able to see what his work in quantum computing looks like.

[h/t Newsweek]


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