Each year, Nikon holds its Small World microphotography competition and the results can always only be described as stunning. This year is no different – but with the added element of sand appearing as the 14th place winner, the image above by Yanping Wang of the Beijing Planetarium.
Browsing through the galleries of winners, Honorable Mentions, and “Images of Distinction,” one of the (many) things that is striking is the art of nature’s patterns and designs, a theme superbly covered in the books by Philip Ball, Nature’s Patterns – A Tapestry in Three Parts. Scale has little role in all this, and I found it entertaining (not to mention awe-inspiring) to flip between the microscopic and the huge – specifically, the glorious gallery published earlier this year by Time, “Our Beautiful Planet: Images from Space by an Astronaut Photographer.” The images were taken by Paolo Nespoli:
European Space Agency Astronaut Paolo Nespoli — who first traveled to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2007 — photographed a unique and stunning image of the space shuttle Endeavour docked with the International Space Station on a recent Soyuz mission. During a 159-day mission aboard the International Space Station, Nespoli managed to find time, despite his full schedule of duties, to capture footage for a documentary film, First Orbit. Combining historic voice recordings of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first manned spaceflight, the documentary charts the view that Gagarin saw during his historic mission. In addition to this footage, Nespoli also took many still images of Earth. LightBox presents a selection of these photos that show our planet as a beautiful abstract canvas.
“A beautiful abstract canvas” indeed; but then put some of these images together with the Small World – the viewer can be hard-pressed to determine scale at all:
And then the “abstract canvas” is on display in quite extraordinary ways in the microscopic world:
Dr. Michael M. Raith, Steinmann Institut, University of Bonn, leucite crystal from volcanic rock showing polysynthetic lamellar twins formed by the cubic- tetrago (40x); Dennis Callahan, California Institute of Technology, Department of Applied Physics & Materials Science, Cracked gallium arsenide solar cell films (50x)
But, this being the blog that it is, I shall finish with the following image of sand dunes in Saudi Arabia – or is it actually a biological photomicrograph?