2019 Photomicrography Competition

Small white hair spider

Javier Rupérez

Almáchar, Málaga, Spain

Reflected Light, Image Stacking

20x (Objective Lens Magnification)

In Their Own Words

A Q&A with Nikon Small World winner Javier Rupérez.

What is the subject matter of your winning image and why did you choose this image?

It is a tiny spider with white hair like tiny feathers. From the position of the eyes, I would say that it belongs to the family of the Philodromidae. It was extremely small. I chose this image because of the visual impact it offers. It is a very strange and curious-looking arachnid. I can only imagine the impact it will have on the people who see it for the first time. I hope that they feel as intrigued and excited as I did. Personally, I have never seen nor photographed an arachnid like this before!

What are the special techniques and/or challenges faced in creating this photomicrograph?

This photograph was taken using the stacking technique with the Nikon BD Plan 20x-0.40 210/0 microscope objective, adapted to a reflex camera by means of a “bellows”. 125 photographs were used with steps of 0.0025 mm between each photograph.

What is your primary line of work?

Photography is not my main occupation, but it takes up all of my free time. I work as a government official, but I spend as much time as possible on photomicrography.

How long have you been taking photographs through a microscope? What first sparked your interest in photomicrography?

Since 2013. Previously, I was dedicated to conventional macro photography, but when I discovered the techniques that allow one to photograph the hidden world of insects and arachnids, I was hooked. One day I saw a photograph of a jumping spider with a magnification of 10x. I was impressed by the detail and wondered, “how on earth did they produce such a photograph?” From that moment on, I knew that I would put all my effort into learning and perfecting the techniques that make the miracle of “seeing the impossible” possible. I have not stopped taking micro photographs, adding to my body of work daily.

Do you tend to focus your microscopy toward a specific subject matter or theme? If so, why?

I have dedicated myself to the photography of all kinds of insects and arachnids. I especially like jumping spiders and insects with interesting morphologies. I enjoy insects that are visually attractive or complex, almost always due to the shape and color of their eyes. Some types of beetles are incredibly fascinating when viewed up close. Sometimes I photograph some little-known species that are of interest to entomologists and animal life specialists, which gives me a deep sense of personal satisfaction.