The world we see with our eyes is just one view of reality, but microscopes can bring a smaller, practically invisible universe within reach.
Photographs taken through the lenses of a high-power 'scope can reveal lifeforms and objects no person has ever seen.
They also highlight beautiful, artistic, and often shocking details in common objects, like soap bubbles, dried coffee, flowers, and butterfly tongues:
The Nikon Small World contest celebrates the most amazing microscope photos from around the world, and 2016's competition was as amazing as any of the years before it: more than 2,000 entries from 70 countries. (I was a judge for the 40th year of the contest.)
Nikon will release the winners on Wednesday, October 19, via its Instagram account,@NikonInstruments.
Until then, soak in the finalists below — and cast a vote for your favorite.
Red speckled jewel beetle
Black elder tree flower stamen
Gear-like hind legs of a planthopper nymph