Tropical Plant Leaf Photo Wins 2000 Nikon Small World Competition

A remarkable photograph of a mangrove leaf, shot by Daphne Zbaeren-Colbourn of Switzerland, has been awarded first prize in the 2000 Nikon International Small World Competition. Ms. Zbaeren-Colbourn’s winning entry, using fluorescence and DIC, merges the techniques of scientific inquiry with aesthetic beauty to create a vibrant, dynamic image that reflects its subject while creating an artistic work of the highest order.

Now celebrating its 26th anniversary, the annual Nikon International Small World Competition was founded in 1975 to recognize excellence in photography through the microscope.  During its tenure, the competition has grown in stature, and is now regarded as the foremost forum for recognizing excellence in photographing the mysterious, unseen universe glimpsed through a light microscope.

Over the years, winning images have depicted everything from common household objects such as bleach, sugar, mothballs and detergent, to foods including oranges and potato chips, medications as diverse as Viagra and AZT, industrial images of integrated circuits and textiles, curiosities like dinosaur bones, and disease states like osteoporosis and cancer.  The competition is open to anyone with an interest in photomicrography, and winners have included not only scientists, but hobbyists, clergymen, gold prospectors, industrial photographers and engineers.

Photos in this year’s competition were judged on the basis of originality, informational content, technical proficiency and visual impact.  In all, 20 winners and nine honorable mentions in the 2000 competition are being honored in festivities tonight at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City, and thousands of dollars in prizes will be awarded to winning and honorable mention photographers from seven countries around the world. Zbaeren-Colbourn receives Nikon photo equipment valued at $5,000, and will be joined by numerous winners traveling from around the world to receive their prizes.

As in previous years, winning entries in this year’s Nikon Small World Competition represent a stunning range of subjects.  While some depict pioneering efforts in industrial and life science research, others simply represent the photographers’ forays into the beauty of the microworld.  Last year’s third place winner, Ms. Zbaeren-Colbourn’s winning image was from a mangrove leaf (avicennia marina) collected in Sri Lanka while on holiday.  Her fascination with the mango leaf’s structure and the ability to create attractive, different color combinations through fluorescence led her to capture the first prize photo.  It was shot at 40X.

Frenchman Christian Gautier is this year’s second prize winner.  He used polarized light to shoot medusa worm skin at 100X.  He will receive a Nikon Coolpix 990 digital camera.

Third place was awarded to James E. Hayden, RBP, FBCA, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.  His photo of an iris, ciliary body and lens of a canine was shot using darkfield at 7.7X.  For his prize, Hayden receives a Nikon N65 camera with a 35-80mm f/4-5.6 AF Zoom Nikkor lens and a camera case.
Jacob Zbaeren of Insel Hospital, Bern, Switzerland, was awarded fourth prize for his photo of human umbilical vein endothelial cells using fluorescence at 120X.  He will receive a Nikon Pronea S kit and a camera case.

The judges for the 26th anniversary competition were: Martin L. Scott, an internationally known consultant in photographic imaging; Michael W. Davidson, director of the optical and magneto-optical imaging center at the National High Magnetic Field laboratory at Florida State University; Nancy Kedersha, Ph.D., of the Harvard Medical School faculty at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Kenneth R. Spring, D.M.D., Ph.D., a senior scientist in the Laboratory of Keney and Electrolyte Metabolism as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

The 20 winning entries from this year’s competition are reproduced in full color in Nikon’s Year 2001 Small World Calendar, which can be purchased from Nikon Instruments Inc., 1300 Walt Whitman Road, Melville, NY 11747, USA.

International Exhibit Tour
The winning photographs will begin touring science and public museumcenters throughout the U.S. this month.  The exhibit will appear over the coming year in such locations as New York City; Eugene and Portland, OR, Atlanta, Des Moines, IA, Phoenix, Hartford, CT, Trenton, NJ, Syracuse, NY, Oak Ridge, TN, Dallas, Mobile, AL, Nashville, Woods Hole, MA, Tampa and Tallahassee, FL and Kingsville, TX.

2001 Competition
“The digital age has arrived with the new millennium,” claims Lee Shuett, Executive Vice President of Nikon Instruments Inc.  “We realize that more and more contestants will be using digital imagery and we have changed our rules and our thinking to accommodate and encourage them.”