Nikon Small World
See close-ups of nature from the Nikon Small World 2018 Photomicrography Competition, on display at Delaware Museum of Natural History from July 21 through September 2. The exhibit provides viewers with new perspectives of plants, animals and more with photographers using new imaging and microscope technologies to capture remarkably clear scientific moments. The competition is now in its 44th year. Nikon Small World recognized 95 photos out of almost 2,500 entries internationally. The exhibit at DMNH will show the top 20 photos.
First place was awarded to Emirati photographer Yousef Al Habshi, who sees the eyes as the windows to stunning insect artwork and research. The 2018 winning image captures part of the compound eyes and surrounding greenish scales of an Asian Red Palm weevil. This type of Metapocyrtus subquadrulifer beetle is typically less than 11 mm (0.43 in) in size and is found in the Philippines.
Al Habshi captured the image using a reflected light technique and stacking of hundreds of images. The winning image is a compilation of more than 128 micrographs. According to Al Habshi, “the main challenge was to show the black body against the black background without overexposing the skin and scales.” He was able to strike the perfect balance by controlling the background distance from the subject and using deft lighting and sample positioning.
“Because of the variety of coloring and the lines that display in the eyes of insects, I feel like I’m photographing a collection of jewelry,” said Al Habshi. “Not all people appreciate small species, particularly insects. Through photomicrography we can find a whole new, beautiful world which hasn’t been seen before. It’s like discovering what lies under the Ocean’s surface.”
While beautiful to photograph, weevils present infestation problems world-wide and often destroy crops. Al Habshi’s photography has helped advance the work of his partner, Professor Claude Desplan, of New York University Abu Dhabi. His lab and Al Habshi’s photos have contributed a better understanding of the Red Palm Weevil and how to better control the population.
Fern sorus (structures producing and containing spores)
10x (objective lens magnification)