Close-up Photographer of the Year is a celebration of close-up, macro and micro photography – an annual competition created to showcase images that help us see the world anew.
Photography is something that interests a lot of people. While some pursue it as a hobby others make it their full-blown profession.
From wildlife to space, photography has different categories, one of them being close-up, macro and microphotography. Close-up Photographer of the Year award, an annual competition created to showcase images that help us see the world anew, has found its winners for 2020.
The competition comprised of seven categories—Animals, Insects, Plants and Fungi, Intimate Landscape, Manmade World, Young (for creatives under 17), and Micro (for photographs taken with a microscope).
The 100 winners were chosen from more than 6,000 entries that came from 52 countries from around the globe. Scroll down below to see the selection of the best shots and tell us what you think of them in the comment section!
More info: CUPOTY
#1 Finalist | Animals
The cat-gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus) has a very impudent facial expression, reminding of the Cheshire Cat from “Alice in Wonderland”. It takes its name although from the habit of curling up his tail, for covering itself when sleeping, similar to a cat. I found this species during a nightwalk through the Kubah Nationalpark on Borneo (Malaysia). I carefully placed an external flash under the leaf and gecko, so that still some parts of the gecko’s head were illuminated. A few centimeters in difference of the flash resulted in a completely differently illuminated picture.
#2 Overall winner & Animals winner – Eel Larva
“Peering through the darkness with your flashlight can be stressful the first time you do it, but it gets fascinating quickly,” explains the photographer. “What makes blackwater diving so magical is the abundance of rarely-seen planktonic creatures you spot as they take part in one of the largest daily migrations of any animal on Earth. After sunset, small pelagic animals (like this larva) rise close to the surface to feed where the sunlight has allowed planktonic algae to grow. At sunrise, they dive into the depths and stay there during the day to escape predators.”
This year’s contest selected finalists in seven categories: Animals, Insects, Plants & Fungi, Intimate Landscape, Man-made World and Micro (for images created using a microscope), plus Young Close-up Photographer of the Year, for entrants aged 17 or under.
#3 Winner | Young – Little Ball
#4 3rd place winner | Young – Butterflies in the light
#5 3rd place winner | Animals – Bufo Bufo
Founded in 2018 by photographic journalists Tracy and Dan Calder, Close-up Photographer of the Year is an annual competition organized in association with Affinity Photo to encourage photographers to slow down, enjoy their craft, and make long-lasting connections with the world around them.
‘The standard was incredible,” said Tracy Calder, co-founder of CUPOTY. “Yet again, entrants have shown that close-up photography can help us see the world anew and discover beauty in subjects that are often overlooked.”
The Top 100 entries can be viewed here.
#6 Winner | Micro – Glassworm
‘This common toad (Bufo bufo) took a liking to me, probably because I looked like a frogman myself,” the photographer jokes. “He didn’t stop following me during my two-hour dive in the Buèges karst spring (Hérault, Occitanie, France), so he became the perfect model.”
#7 Finalist | Animals
#8 Finalist | Plants & Fungi
Mike Curry won the Insects category with his shot of a butterfly surrounded by peeling paint. ‘The juxtaposition of manmade decay and natural beauty works beautifully here,” said competition judge Ross Hoddinott. “The texture and pattern of the blistered paint creates a compelling close-up on its own, but the addition of the butterfly’s natural beauty and delicacy is a masterstroke.”
#9 2nd place winner | Plants & Fungi
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA – Barry Webb
#10 Finalist | Insects
#11 Finalist | Insects
“Bioluminescence is abundant in the Bornean rainforest at night, a feature that becomes evident as soon as you turn off your headlamp,” said photographer Chien C. Lee of the photo above. “But few organisms emit a light as strong as Lamprigera beetles. Close relatives of fireflies, Lamprigera differ in that the females are wingless and produce a bright and steady greenish light from the tip of their abdomen. During a night walk in the mountains of southern Sarawak, I found this large specimen crawling through low vegetation, presumably on the hunt for snails, their preferred prey.”
#12 Finalist | Insects
#13 Finalist | Animals
#14 Winner | Insects – Fragile
#15 Finalist | Insects
Stag beetle; Lucanus cervus; A very special insect lives in only a few places in the Netherlands and Belgium: the Stag beetle (Lucanus cervus). Because of its photogenic appearance and impressive appearance, this species is high on the wish list of macro photographers, but only a few will ever have seen it. Because of these characteristics, we therefore put the flying deer in the spotlight even more. It is one of the largest beetle species in Europe and has an impressive format and a somewhat prehistoric appearance. The male animals can become more than 9 centimeters in size and are real giants in the insect world. The beetle owes its name to the huge grown jaws that are reminiscent of the antlers of a deer. Only the male is equipped with this. During the first warm days in June, the beetles can be photographed, because then it is mating time for the flying deer, and this only lasts a few weeks. As soon as a male has discovered a female on the tree, he will protect this spot against other males. When these appear on the scene, fierce fighting takes place. The large jaws are used to lift the rival in the air and throw it out of the tree. This is not easy since the legs have barbs with which the beetles have a firm grip on the bark. The place where I photographed the stag beetle I visited for almost 25 years. I placed the beetle smaller in the frame to give more space to the surroundings of the forest edge. – Edwin Giesbers
#16 Winner | Plants & Fungi – Mandala with Miniature Tulips
Winner of the Plants & Fungi category, Elizabeth Kazda’s ‘Mandala with Miniature Tulips’ intends “to create art that challenges the viewer to look at the natural world with fresh eyes.”
“I collected some miniature tulips from my garden and placed them on a lightbox,” she said. “The vivid yellow centers were so striking that I decided to create a composition that would show both a side view and a center view of the plants.”
#17 3rd Place Winner | Plants & Fungi – Ballerina
Second Place in the Plants and Fungi category, the image was taken in a woodland in Buckinghamshire, England. “It shows a line of 2.5mm high, fruiting bodies of the slime mold Metatrichia floriformis growing on a decaying beech trunk,” explains the photographer. “I liked this group because it showed different stages in their development. But when I looked through the magnifier, I noticed that the fruiting bodies resembled people standing in a line – the holes in the stems looked like little legs!”
Third Place in the Plants and Fungi category: “‘Almost every year, in early spring, I visit a place in Austria where one of the early bloomers – the dog’s tooth violet (Erythronium dens-canis) – grows,” said Henrik Spranz. “To ensure the best light, I get there early. But this means that the blooms of the violets are still closed. To my mind they look even more delicate and special in this state.”
#18 Finalist | Plants & Fungi
Mark James Ford trekked across a baking lava field in Hawaii, with heat rising from every crack, to create his image of lava flow setting – securing top spot in the Intimate Landscape category.
#19 3rd place winner | Intimate Landscape – Ice Landscapes
#20 Finalist | Micro
#21 2nd place winner | Intimate Landscape – The Bullet
The Micro category amazed and delighted, with subjects ranging from lettuce leaves to callus-removing substances. Electrician Andrei Savitsky fought off stiff competition with his image of a glass worm, taken with a smartphone.
“‘Glass worms can vary in length from about half an inch to two inches,” he said. “On the right side of this particular image, you can see the large tracheal bubbles that serve as hydrostatic organs (or swim bladders). These bubbles allow the larvae to keep its horizontal position in the water column, while also helping to regulate the depth of its immersion. The bubbles are covered with dark pigment cells that can resize – if the cells expand due to absorption of light, the tracheal bubbles heat up and increase in volume, reducing the weight of the larvae and causing it to float up.”
#22 3rd Place Winner | Insects – The Signal
A glow worm (Lamprigera sp.) leaves a trail of bright green light during a long exposure photograph. Actually a species of firefly, this female beetle reaches maturity without undergoing metamorphosis into and adult form and remains wingless her entire life. Sarawak, Malaysia (Borneo). – Chien Lee
#23 Finalist | Insects
#24 Finalist | Insects
#25 Finalist | Plants & Fungi
#26 2nd place winner | Animals – Spider in the Swamp
#27 Finalist | Plants & Fungi
#28 Finalist | Insects
#29 Finalist | Plants & Fungi
#30 Finalist | Plants & Fungi
Earthwonders granted permission to feature photos by the Close Up Photographer of the Year Awards.