Nikon Small World is regarded as the leading forum for showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope. For over 30 years, Nikon has rewarded the world’s best photomicrographers who make critically important scientific contributions to life sciences, bio-research and materials science.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the competition:

Igor Siwanowicz, macro picture, Nikon

Credit: Dr. Igor Siwanowicz Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology Martinsried, Germany
First place in the 2011 Nikon Small World photograph competition went to this photograph of a green lacewing larva.

Donna Stolz, Marco pictures, Nikon

Credit: Dr. Donna Stolz University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
A blade of grass magnified 200 times took 2nd place in the 2011 competition.

Frank Fox, Marco Pictures, Nikon

Credit: Frank Fox Fachhochschule Trier Trier, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
The third place winner of the 2011 Nikon Small World contest was this photo of living Melosira monliformis, a type of algae.

Alfred Pasieka, Marco Pictures, Nikon

Credit: Alfred Pasieka Germany
An ultra-close shot of a microchip took 5th-place.

Jan Michels, Macro pictures, Nikon

Credit: Dr. Jan Michels Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel Kiel, Germany
The marine copepod Temora longicornis took the 9th-place-winning photograph.

Joan Rohl, Marco Pictures, Nikon

Credit: Joan Röhl Institute for Biochemistry and Biology Potsdam, Germany
This is a freshwater water flea, Daphnia magna, and took 10th place in the competition.

Jan Michels, Marco picture, Nikon

Credit: Dr. Jan Michels Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel Kiel, Germany
11th place went to this shot of the head of a fluorescing ant.

Yanping Wang, Macro picture, Nikon

Credit: Yanping Wang Beijing Planetarium Beijing, China
Wondering what these are? Grains of sand – and they took 14th place.