Unless they were under a microscope, it would be difficult to see the shimmery barbs of a louse claw or cracks running through a single piece of table salt. The winning entries of the 47th annual Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition unveil these otherwise imperceptible features, showing the unique textures, colors, and shapes in stunning detail. We’ve chosen some of our favorite images below—these include the crystal-like webbing of a slime mold captured by Allison Pollack (previously), the first-prize winning glimpse of an oak leaf by Jason Kirk, and the kaleidoscopic head of a tick revealed by doctors Tong Zhang and Paul Stoodley—and you can find more from this year’s competition on the contest’s site and Instagram.
The following is a text I’ve been thinking about writing for years. Both as a cautionary tale to anyone getting into photography, and as an explanation for why I stopped. I’ve been reluctant to share this, but here’s what happened.
This interesting little camera was developed back in the 1950s by one of the Soviet Union’s largest camera manufacturers, KMZ. The camera was only in production for half a decade, and barely known in the west, but as Dowling explains in the video, it actually beat the Nikon F to market, a camera often thought of as the first professional SLR camera.
The nine-minute video goes over the history of the camera, as well as some of its more unique features, including a combination aperture/shutter button on the front of the camera, a removable prism and a ‘mystery knob’ that was actually an in-camera film slicer for times when you needed to change film stocks halfway through a roll.
Spanning the icy downpours of the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard to the intimate portraits of the people of Papua New Guinea, the profound photographs that comprise an exhibition at Hilton Asmus Contemporary in Chicago are a perceptive consideration of the issues at the center of today’s conservation efforts. Titled Origins, the show brings together the work of artists and marine biologists Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, who pair their creative practices with their work at the nonprofit Sea Legacy.
Art is like a joke, either you get it or you don’t.” So it was explained to me in the late 1970s by photographer Randy Eriksen, whose cheeky observation about the importance of context to one’s appreciation of either comedy or art could have been a parenthetical second subtitle for author and educator Kim Beil’s “Good Pictures: A History of Popular Photography” (Stanford University Press, 2020).
Beil’s episodic and highly readable book identifies 50 photographic trends—illustrated by hundreds of vintage and contemporary photographs—that have guided the aesthetics of photography since 1851, when a group of American daguerreotypes made a splash at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. Back in 1851, context mostly equaled 1851, as the latest photo technology of the day played a major role in how Victorians decided that one picture was good and another was not.
While exploring a remote corner of the Indonesian archipelago Kepulauan Raja Ampat, one of the world’s last true ocean paradises, my friends and I heard about a nearby secret cove where jellyfish could be found in large numbers.
Our homestay host had seen them a few years before, so helped us organize a boat and directed us to the area.
The conditions were perfect: clear, sunny skies; amazing visibility; and not a breath of wind. After 20 minutes of searching island coves along the way to our destination, we happened across an area bubbling at the surface with moon jellyfish. Once we were in the water, we were awestruck at the sheer number. There must have been hundreds of thousands of jellyfish spread across hundreds of meters and to depths beyond the light.
I had my friend, freediver Rhys Muddle, descend and allow the jellyfish to surround him. The 190-degree view of my fisheye lens was essential to capturing the immensity of the scene.
Our host later informed us he had never seen jellyfish in that precise location, or in such huge numbers before. We searched there again, unsuccessfully, every day for weeks, which proved to us that we had experienced a truly rare and special event.
Spending timing in any major city is likely to bring run-ins with urban wildlife like rodents and pigeons, but in Amsterdam, there’s one long-legged species stalking the streets in unusually large numbers. In her ongoing series Herons of Amsterdam, photographer Julie Hrudová documents the thriving feathered population—it’s grown considerably in recent decades, and in 2017, officials estimated there were 800 pairs living in 25 neighborhoods—swooping down to sidewalks for a meal and confidently strutting into people’s homes.
Often nesting in park trees, the now-ubiquitous birds are known to scour fish markets at close to scavenge the day’s unsold product and visit the zoo at feeding time. They’ve integrated themselves so wholly into the lives of the city’s human inhabitants that it’s not uncommon for residents to supply food and respite to the striped creatures. “They have names for them, like Kiri the heron, who comes by every day for a snack and is not scared to enter the house,” the Prague-born photographer says. “At times he stays for a while and watches TV.”
Last year, Hrudová released a zine compiling many of the images shown here, and she’s currently working on a new book titled Chasing Amsterdam that will be filled with the street photos she takes on a weekly basis. You can follow her sightings around the Dutch capital on Instagram, and check out her curated account StreetRepeat for a survey of the recurring themes photographers document around the world. (via Jeroen Apers)
Whether shooting in the harsh snowy regions of Greenland or on the basalt-lined waters of Iceland’s Stuðlagil canyon, Jan Erik Waider highlights the textures and fleeting shapes of the earth’s landscapes. His photographs often isolate monumental subject matter like glaciers and deep, rocky canyons in a way that makes the abstracted forms appear like mysterious, otherworldly environments, an approach he continues in his recent LAVA series.
Earlier this year, Waider, who is based in Hamburg but frequently travels throughout remote regions in the Nordic countries, trekked to Iceland’s Nátthagi valley following the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption. He spent three days getting as close as possible to the magma as it poured across the landscape and using a telephoto lens to document its changing forms in magnified detail, which he describes in a note to Colossal:
I was absolutely blown away by how quickly the lava field changed. Apparently, cooled lava broke open, and thick, fresh lava flowed out and formed new shapes and “sculptures,” which were then destroyed again by new lava a few minutes later. This simultaneously beautiful but also brutal transience was the charm for me. A surreal landscape that in just a few minutes will no longer be visible to anyone.
The resulting images contrast the crispy, charred edges of the cooled rock with its molten underbelly. You can see a portion of the LAVA series is below, but check out Waider’s Behance for the full collection. All of the shots are also available as prints on his site.
Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, strikes a pose for photographer Heinrich Hoffmann whilst rehearsing and listening to his recorded speech. The album, features black and white images of the Nazi leader in a series of poses, using expressive face and hand gestures, which he would practice and review before addressing the German public.
They capture the meticulous training Hitler undertook to perfect his famous speeches, and give a rare insight into his vanity and controlling personality. Once he saw the pictures, he would decide whether to incorporate the various gestures and poses into his speeches and appearances.
The photos were reportedly taken in 1925, soon after Hitler was released from a nine-month stint in prison during which he dictated his autobiography, Mein Kampf.
After seeing the photographs, Hitler requested Hoffmann to destroy the negatives, but he didn’t obey. They were published in his memoir, “Hitler was my friend”, which came out in 1955. Hoffmann, who introduced Hitler to his then-studio assistant Eva Braun, survived the war and spent four years in prison for Nazi profiteering. He died in 1957, aged 72.
At a popular Mexican dive spot, crashing waves, a volcanic spire, and congregating fish make for a dramatic scene.
Can you preserve a 30-year-old roll of color film and shoot it like the day it was purchased? Today I’m going to answer that question as well as give an in-depth history of one of Kodak’s most pivotal films, Ektar 25. I think that some of its history as well the results may surprise you.
Announced in October 1988 at Photokina, along with 17 other color films, Kodak Ektar 25 was introduced with its highly sensitive companion, Ektar 1000.
According to Popular Photography, it was nearly grainless and knocked the eyes out of even the most hardened film testers. Compared to Kodachrome and Ektachrome, Ektar 25 was a high contrast highly saturated C-41 film with not a lot of give. For that reason, the box was labeled, “For SLR Cameras” insinuating you should not put this in a point-and-shoot camera.
Firefighter putting the fire of the aftermath of an arson attack presumably by the IRA. Belfast, Ireland, 1972.
From deep in the bush just outside Bathurst in Australia, Rodney Watters and Niall MacNeill bring the darkness of space into the light.
Using an alchemy of high-speed cameras, telescopes and computer processors, the images created for their new book overcome the multitude of challenges involved in capturing celestial bodies light years away
Xuebing Du finds the balance between light and shadow in her photographs that cast flowers and plants in a dreamy, refined manner. Currently based in Sunnyvale, California, Du scouts the botanical subject matter as the forms reach peak bloom, using only the natural glow from the sun to capture their vivid color. The resulting images are elegant and otherworldly and frame the soft, silky petals in a way that creates “a tone that is almost surreal and illuminated by a strong yet delicate touch of light,” she says in a statement.
Du’s photography focuses on the organic textures and supple forms of the natural world, and you can explore a larger collection of her works on Behance and Instagram. Prints are available in her shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
My name is Roman Yarovitcyn, a photojournalist from Nizhny Novgorod in Russia. I’m the editor of the photo department at the regional office of the Kommersant publishing house. This summer marks 30 years since I became a professional photojournalist. Today I’m only using only pro-level digital gear, such as Canon EOS-1D series SLR and L-series lenses. Daily shooting is very hard test for camera. But I remember times when professional equipment was not available for me.
It’s not a secret that in the days of the USSR, pro photojournalists didn’t use Soviet-made gear to take newspaper pictures. They used Nikon F, Nikon F2 and Nikon FM SLRs, which were bought by the government for propaganda. Before the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow, the newest Nikon F3 gear was bought for TASS and APN agencies and for several state newspapers.
But this was the media jet-set in the Soviet Union. Only around one in every thousand Soviet photographers had access to the Japanese cameras. All the others used domestic cameras, such as Zenit SLRs. I was one of them, when I became a staff news photographer at small city newspaper in 1991.
All my gear was one or two (I don’t remember clearly) Zenit-Es, and several lenses I acquired after working at a factory lab. One Zenit was inherited from my father. Despite the humble gear, my work was successful, and I finally got images of enough quality, when covered several important events. The summer of 1994 was the last using these Zenits; my newspaper bought me a Pentax K1000. I never returned to Zenit-E, because this camera was almost unusable for news shooting.
A woman and child pictured beside a kitchen range in slum property c 1910. The photograph may have been taken in connection with a scheme to provide poor mothers with milk for their babies.
The kitchen was the centre of activity in old tenement flats. In the case of a single-end flat, it was the only room. Beds, sink, coal bunker, cupboards, pulley, fireplace and cooking range would all be crammed into a small area.
The cast iron kitchen range was standard in tenement buildings, a heating and cooking tool. A large cast iron kettle stood on the hob keeping the water warm. Every effort was made to keep the fire alight over night, especially in winter. This was done by saving old tea-leaves and potato peelings, mixed with dross (coal dust) and cinders and placed on the fire before going to bed.
After sunset, self-taught photographer Steven Kovacs plunges into the open ocean around Palm Beach to shoot the minuscule, unassuming creatures floating in the depths. He’s spent the last eight years on blackwater dives about 730 feet off the eastern coast of Florida in a process that “entails drifting near the surface at night from 0 to 100 feet over very deep water.” Often framing species rarely seen by humans, Kovac shoots the larval fish against the dark backdrop in a way that highlights the most striking aspects of their bodies, including wispy, translucent fins, iridescent features, and bulbous eyes.
An elderly couple helping to clear the debris during the post-war reconstruction of bomb-damaged Dresden, 1946.