Nikon exhibit brings photos to life Exhibit

By Trevor Wallace
February 18, 2010

Shannon Keough

Ever wondered what the ovary of an anglerfish looks like? Or maybe an incredibly detailed photo of the crystals in a snowflake? Here is an opportunity to see these and other close-ups as The Wistar Institute joins Nikon’s Small World to display winning photomicrographs taken with a light microscope.

Wistar, an independent nonprofit biomedical research institute, is holding a new exhibit, which include winning images from the 2009 Nikon Small World contest. The images will be on display from Feb. 2 to March 12, when they will then continue to be held in exhibits throughout the country.

Two members of Wistar’s faculty, James Hayden, manager of Wistar’s microscopy facility and Frederick Keeney, member of Wistar’s microscopy facility, were winners in Nikon’s contest.

Hayden, whose image was that of an anglerfish ovary, captured fourth place with a stunning spiral mix of colors in the anglerfish ovary. But for an entrant’s photomicrograph to be among the top 20 selected, the images must not only be a spectacular photograph, but must also provide informational content and scientific dexterity.

Images are judged on many levels, including their creativity of objects photographed and their significance to the scientific community. Also, aesthetically speaking, the images must combine color and composition of the structure to show the object’s beauty as a photomicrograph.

Although it is called the Nikon Small World Competition, there’s nothing small about the size of the competition. Entrants including professionals and hobbyists from the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America have submitted their photomicrographs in hopes of winning $3000 towards Nikon equipment.

The 20 winning images from the 34th Annual Nikon Small World International Photomicrography Competition have been touring cities since October, and will continue to do so throughout this year. Stopping at The Wistar Institute gives those in Philadelphia a chance to see images many never knew existed.

The competition was founded in 1974 in order to display great works of photography using a light microscope. This year, Wistar kicked off their exhibit with lectures from the scientific community, including speakers from Columbia University and a 2008 Nobel Laureate.

This year’s first place went to Dr. Heiti Paves of Tallinn University of Technology, in Tallinn Estonia. Photographed at 20X with confocal microscopy, Paves’ image shows the anther of Arabidopsis thaliana, also known as a thale cress plant.

Paves believes his winning image was a wonderful subject to photograph because “they do not move very fast. The picture of my dreams should bring out motility of living cell, like a sports photograph.”

A dazzling array of greens, blues and reds show movement and energy consumption in Paves’ microscopic image. Paves’ image is now on display at the Wistar Institute, along with 19 other winning images and other microphotographs awarded an image of distinction honor.

Admission to Wistar is free to the public, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until March 12, located on Spruce Street in West Philadelphia.

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Trevor Wallace

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