Acid-Spraying Ants And Regal Slime Mold Among Close-Up Photographer Of The Year Winners

The incredible entries for Close-Up Photographer Of The Year (CUPOTY) have been judged and the winners are just as incredible as you’d expect them to be. While Hungarian photographer Csaba Daróczi scooped the £2,500 ($3,000) cash prize and the CUPOTY 05 title, the runners-up are equally impressive. We take a close-up look (see what we did there) at some of this year’s top 100 images.

The Bird of the Forest by Csaba Daróczi is this year’s overall winner.
Image credit: Csaba Daróczi |

The title of Young Close-Up Photographer Of The Year was won by 17-year-old Spanish photographer Carlos Pérez Naval for his photograph of a Moorish gecko climbing a wall. His impressive image features both the gecko and some mineral “trees”.

A Moorish gecko (Tarentola mauritanica) climbs on a wall covered with mineral deposits that look like trees.
Image Credit: Carlos Pérez Naval |

“One day, I was lucky enough to find a Moorish gecko very close to the pyrolusite’s wall, so I tried to make the most of the encounter. I wanted to capture a gecko in the ‘petrified forest’ for a long time, but they only recently appeared in my village (probably carried in fruit baskets from hotter areas). Due to climate change they can now survive here,” said Naval in a statement seen by IFLScience. 

British photographer Barry Webb won the Fungi & Slime Moulds category, making it the third year in a row he has achieved a category win. His extraordinary image of a slime mold topped with a crown of ice was enough to secure him the win, though taking the image proved somewhat of a challenge. 

A tiny slime mold (Didymium squamulosum) proudly wears a crown of ice.
Image Credit: Barry Webb |

“This 1mm [0.04 inch] tall slime mold (Didymium squamulosum) was found in leaf litter on a Buckinghamshire woodland floor in January. Attracted by the way the frost had formed a crown shape on top of the fruiting body, I had to be very careful not to breathe on it. During a previous attempt with another slime mould, my breath had melted the ice when I inadvertently got too close,” Webb said. 

In the Insects category, René Krekels’ winning image, taken in the Netherlands, shows a group of wood ants defending their nest by spraying acid. 

Wood ants defend their community by spraying acid.
Image Credit: René Krekels |

Meanwhile, the Invertebrate Portrait category was won by Tibor Molnar, with his close-up of the face of a jumping stick (Stiphra) taken in Yasuni National Park, Ecuador.

“The best way to describe these invertebrates is part walking stick, part grasshopper! When they jump, they are not particularly graceful, and they tend to tumble around completely off-balance,” Molnar said.

Part grasshopper, part stick insect, this jumping stick (Stiphra) provides a comical portrait.
Image Credit: Tibor Molnar |

Overall, 11 categories showcased the best close-up photography has to offer, attracting almost 12,000 entries from 67 countries across the world. Twenty-three judges from scientific, media, and natural history backgrounds came together for over 20 hours of collective judging to pick the winners.

“Personally, I think this is our best collection of winning images yet, and I’m so grateful to those who entered as it allows us to see and learn from their work and to recognise how incredible and surprising the world is,” said CUPOTY co-founder Tracy Calder.

Take a look at the full top 100 images here

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