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2019 CU Up Close Image Competition

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The BioFrontiers Institute Advanced Light Microscopy Core Presents:

The 2019 CU Up Close Image Competition!


With an optimal blend of scientific relevance and artistic beauty, many of us are easily captivated by the digital images acquired by today's microscopes. While it is easy for us to be focused on the rigor for creating robust data, it is important to take a moment to appreciate the elegance of what we can now observe and image. Further, most of us started down this scientific path because we found the combination of the scientific challenge and the experimental fun greatly enticing. While the former component is always present, it can greatly overshadowed the latter as we proceed down our respective scientific paths. The CU Up Close Image Competition celebrates the art in science within the world of microscopy. This is a competition that simultaneously demonstrates our advanced imaging capabilities while allowing us to appreciate the imaging artist that resides in all of us.

Images can be submitted any time until October 18, 2019, using the electronic submission form (please see the link below) or in person. This year, there are two categories. The first is traditional color images. The second will be for movies (ie, time-lapse, 3D...). The selected finalists will be openly voted on, with the top three winners of the static images and the top video being announced at the 3rd floor cookie hour (date TBD). The top three static images will be printed, framed, and mounted within the BioFrontiers Institute Advanced Light Microscopy Core. The twelve final images will make up our annual calendar. The winning video will be highlighted in multiple locations throughout the building. The four overall winners (3 Images, 1 Video), will each receive a $100 gift card to Amazon.

Please see below for the Competition Rules, Useful Imaging Tips, and Relevant Links. Please contact if you have any questions or have any difficulty in uploading your images. Please submit your videos in person.

Key Dates:

  1. Now - October 18, 2019: Image submission open
  2. TBD: Open voting for the finalists
  3. TBD: Top 3 Images and 1 video winners announced at Cookie Hour

Competition Rules:

  1. All images must be acquired within the BioFrontiers Institute Advanced Light Microscopy Core or within a BioFrontiers research lab.
  2. Standard image processing software can be used to enhance your images (i.e. ImageJ/Fiji, NIS Elements, Matlab...).
  3. Images must be submitted in a final, single frame format.
  4. Please submit your images as .jpeg or .tif. TIF is a loss-less format and therefore higher quality, however these tend to be much larger in size. JPEGs are compressed but are more manageable.
  5. Please submit your movies as .mov or .avi.
  6. Images submitted to prior image competitions are eligible, unless it was selected as a finalist (sorry, no repeat winners!)
  7. You must keep a copy of the original data file in the native file format. This will be useful if you are selected as a finalist. If you do not keep this file you will be withdrawn from the competition.
  8. Multiple submissions per person are allowed.
  9. Collaborative submissions are allowed.
  10. All submitted images can be used by the University of Colorado, Boulder, the BioFrontiers Institute, and the BioFrontiers Advanced Light Microscopy Core for advertising, promotional, and fund raising purposes. The image will be appropriately accredited.
  11. Have fun!
  12. If you do not agree with any of the listed rules, especially the have fun part, then you are not eligible to participate within the competition. By participating within the competition via an image submission, you are consenting to the listed competition rules.

Useful Imaging Tips:

  1. Acquire a high-resolution image whenever possible (use a high NA objective).
  2. If you are using the Nikon A1R, be sure to sample your image using the Nyquist sampling rate.
  3. Use the full dynamic range of the detector to create the highest contrast for your image.
  4. Avoid saturated pixels.
  5. Frame averaging can help minimize the noise within your image.
  6. If you are doing a montage image, be sure to have a decent overlap to minimize any aliasing or observable stitch lines.
  7. Make sure you are using the correct objective and immersion medium if a high NA is desired: oil for fixed and mounted samples, water for live samples. This will minimize spherical aberrations.
  8. If DIC or phase contrast is to be used, be sure to Köhler align the microscope.

Relevant Links:

  1. Please submit your images here.
  2. Please submit your videos in person.
  3. Click here for a nice overview on how to capture beautiful images.
  4. Click here for some example images.
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