For 44 years Nikon has recognized the world’s finest photographs of microscopic things with its Small World Photography contest. The eye of a beetle may not look like much with your naked eye, but take a closer look and you’ll find the intricacies of the thing. The 2018 winners were announced last week on Instagram and were carefully selected from 2,500 entries from 89 countries. This year Yousef Al Habshi of Abu Dhabi was awarded for his stunning image of the eye of an Asian Red Palm weevil—a beetle found in the Philippines that is typically less that 0.43 inches in size.
Habshi photographed the weevil by using a reflected light technique and stacking together 128 micrographs. “The main challenge was to show the black body against the black background without overexposing the skin and scales,” he said of the winning image
Second place went to Rogelio Moreno of Panama for an image of a fern sorus—a clustered structure that contains and produces spores. To capture the fern sorus Moreno used a technique called autofluorescence which involves shining ultraviolet light on the subject, the vibrant colors of Moreno’s final image indicate the varied maturity stages of the sporangium within the fern sorus.
Saulius Gugis of Naperville, Illinois took third place with this image of a spittlebug nymph which was created using focus stacking. The nymph is in the midst of making its bubble house, which keeps it safe from predators and temperature fluctuations that may cause them to dry out.
Check out the other top images in the gallery below.