Mr Grimm’s winning image, Eye of a honey bee (Apis mellifera) covered in dandelion pollen (120x). Photo: Ralf Claus Rimm An earlier work. Photo: Ralph Claus Grimm
A Queensland school teacher who won first prize in an international photography competition hopes his images can help people foster a better relationship with nature.
Ralph Claus Grimm said he couldn’t believe it when he got a call telling him he’d won the Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition.
“It nearly knocked me over, it really knocked me off my socks. I didn’t know what to say to the guy,” he said.
“It’s an international award so you’re talking about 2000 submissions from 88 countries,”
“The people I am competing with are scientists and researchers, people with the most expensive equipment, and then here is me, in my little shack, taking a first place image with my microscope, it’s just unreal.”
The Woodridge State High School teacher said his winning photograph of a honey bee’s eye covered in dandelion pollen magnified at 120x, was a painstaking process that took over four hours.
The image was taken through a microscope with an extremely small focus area, so Mr Grimm had to combine over 150 stacked photographs to eliminate the out-of-focus areas.
The former beekeeper said he really wanted to combine the beauty that he’d found with a warning to everyone not take the planet for granted.
“The structural beauty of what I saw made me want to get the best quality I could get,” he said.
“It’s a subject of great sculptural beauty, but also a warning – that we should stay connected to our planet, listen to the little creatures like our bees and find a way to protect the earth that we call home.”
Mr Grimm, who arrived in Australia from Germany when he was 14, said his love of photomicrography started early.
“I got my first microscope when I was six, it was amazing. I put pond water under the microscope, and I discovered bacteria; it was amazing that something so tiny could have such a big impact on life,” he said.
“I love that idea: when doors are open to things you really wouldn’t know what was going on normally,
“Photomicrography is fascinating as it lets you see these hidden structures that are hidden to the visible eye.”
Mr Grimm has been developing his photography skills ever since as a way to explore the invisible parts of nature, entering annually into the Nikon Small World awards since 1999.
He has no plans of stopping.
“It’s nice to see that people are still interested in nature, it shows me that not all is lost.”
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