In many instances, nature photography doesn’t require you to think big. Sometimes it means thinking small—very small. Showcasing the beauty and complexity of life, Nikon’s Small World competition is widely recognized today as the leading forum for recognizing the art, proficiency, and photographic excellence involved in the niche world of photomicrography.
Dr. Oscar Ruiz earned first place this year for his photo (above) of a four-day-old zebrafish embryo. Ruiz uses the zebrafish to study genetic mutations at the University of Texas. Stunning images, from brain cells to butterfly proboscis, rounded out the rest of the competition.
For the 2016 contest, a panel of five judges sorted through over 2,000 entries from 70 different countries to choose 77 winners—comprised of 20 top-ranked images, 14 honorable mentions, and 61 images of distinction. Submissions were judged on their artistic composition as well as their technical proficiency.
Although the Small World contest is in its 42nd rendition, Nikon changed things up this year. For the first time ever, participants can vote for their favorite image among all finalists. The winner of the Small World Popular Vote will be announced on October 26th. Peruse the rest of the top 20 images below, before casting your vote for your favorite photo here. (And yes, you will find out what has those fangs.)