You might not ordinarily think of a scientific photo taken in a lab as being an obvious example of wildlife photography, but this incredible close-up image of a zebrafish by scientist Daniel Castranova certainly ticks all of the boxes. Gives the audience the opportunity to see something they wouldn't ordinarily be able to see? Yes. Allows the viewer to learn more about the species? Yes. Artistically rendered? Definitely.
The Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition first began in 1975, initially designed as a way to celebrate the efforts of those involved with photography through the light microscope. However, it has since evolved to become a leading showcase for photomicrographers from a wide array of scientific disciplines.
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Daniel Castronova's image was taken with the assistance of Bakary Samasa while working in the lab of Dr. Brant Weinstein at the National Institutes of Health. The shot shows a dorsal view of the head of a zebrafish with a fluorescent 'tagged' skeleton, showing the scales in blue and lymphatic system in orange. The image was taken using confocal microscopy and required more than 350 individual images, that were then subsequently stacked together, to create this single capture.
Castranova said, "the image is beautiful, but also shows how powerful the zebrafish can be as a model for the development of lymphatic vessels. Until now, we thought this type of lymphatic system only occurred in mammals. By studying them now, the scientific community can expedite a range of research and clinical innovations – everything from drug trials to cancer treatments. This is because fish are so much easier to raise and image than mammals."
Meanwhile, Eric Flem, the Communications Manager for Nikon Instruments, said, "For 46 years, the goal of the Nikon Small World competition has been to share microscopic imagery that visually blends art and science for the general public. As imaging techniques and technologies become more advanced, we are proud to showcase imagery that this blend of research, creativity, imaging technology and expertise can bring to scientific discovery."
You can visit the Nikon Small World website for more information on this fascinating competition. You can also scroll down to see the top nine images from this year's contest below.