A Nikon photo competition shows us what an ant's face looks like up close, and it's straight out of a horror movie
- Eugenijus Kavaliauskas won a prize at a Nikon competition for his photo of an ant.
- The magnified photo shows the details of the ant's face, from beady eyes to an orc-like jaw.
That's not one of Tolkien's orcs straight out of Middle Earth — it's just what ants look like when you get up close and personal with them.
The snapshot of an ant's face, magnified five times under a microscope, was submitted to the 2022 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition by Lithuanian wildlife photographer Eugenijus Kavaliauskas. The competition celebrates the art of microscope photography, which allows people to capture details the human eye cannot see.
Kavaliauskas' submission was one of the 57 selected "Images of Distinction."
Kavaliauskas has won other photography awards for his snapshots of birds of prey, according to his portfolio.
Kavaliauskas told Insider he lives near a forest, which made it easy for him to catch an ant.
"But it's boring to take a photo of an ant, running banally, on the ground," Kavaliauskas said. And so he put the ant under a microscope, and took snapshots.
"I'm always looking for details, shadows, and unseen corners. The main goal of photography is to be a discoverer," Kavaliauskas said. "I am fascinated by the Creator's masterpieces and the opportunity to see God's designs."
In response to questions about what the ant looked like under the microscope, Kavaliauskas said "there are no horrors in nature."
"When I first started with microphotography, I, too, thought all beetles looked a little like monsters," he said. "But now, I've gotten used to it, and am surprised that there are so many interesting, beautiful, and unknown miracles under our feet."
While striking, the image did not clinch the contest's top prize. For his photo of the ant, Kavaliauskas won one Nikon item with a retail value of $35.
The top honor and a $3,000 cash prize went to Grigorii Timin and Michel Milinkovitch from the University of Geneva's department of genetics and evolution. The duo captured a Madagascar giant day gecko's front paw in brilliant, fluorescent detail.
"This particular image is beautiful and informative, as an overview and also when you magnify it in a certain region, shedding light on how the structures are organized on a cellular level," Timin said in a Nikon news release.
The photomicrography contest is open to anyone interested in microscopy and photography, per Nikon. This year marked the 48th time the competition was held. The winning snaps were selected from 1,300 entries and announced on October 11.
The 2023 competition is now welcoming submissions, which have to be sent in for consideration before April 30, 2023.
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