Mini but mighty: These Close Up Photographer of the Year winners deserve huge applause

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The winners of this year’s Close-up Photographer of the Year have recently been announced, and there are some truly amazing images with interesting stories to go with them.

The overall winner was photographed by Samantha Stephens, for her image of a pair of salamanders who had fallen prey to a carnivorous plant.

“Northern pitcher plants normally feast on moths and flies but researchers recently discovered a surprising new item on the plant’s menu: juvenile spotted salamanders,” says Samantha.

“While following researchers on their daily surveys, I saw a pitcher with two salamanders floating at the surface of the pitcher’s fluid, both at the same stage of decay. I knew it was a special and fleeting moment.”

We have selected our favourites from the top three of each category, including stunning snakes, slime moulds and scary parasitic worms.

The Close-up Photographer of the Year is a celebration of close-up, macro and micro photography, and is open to amateurs and professionals from around the world.

Animals category winner & overall winner

Two lizard creatures looking like aliens inside an eye shape

Two juvenile spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) have been swallowed up by a northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), a type of carnivorous plant. These salamanders have already started to decay in the bottom of the bell-shaped leaves of the plant. Photo by Samantha Stephens/CUPOTY

Underwater category winner

Small predator on seaweed underwater

This is a stalked jellyfish (Lucernaria quadricornis), hiding in the freezing waters of the White Sea, Russia. The green algae that surround it indicate that spring is on its way. Photo by Viktor Lyagushkin/CUPOTY

Manmade category winner

three oil drops look like face

This macro picture was captured as two drops of oil were merging, and the image resembles a very jolly face. Photo by Matt Vacca/CUPOTY

Fungi category winner

Fungi encased in ice bubbles

Some mature slime moulds, identified as Comatricha, grow on an old rotten fence post. These moulds have been encased in ice during the freezing cold night. The largest slime mould in this image is still only 3mm tall. Photo by Barry Webb/CUPOTY

Butterflies category winner

Butterfly wings covered in dew

A dew-covered male banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) rests on a reed stem, in the early morning in Ede, Netherlands. Photo by Wim Vooijs/CUPOTY

Young category winner

a line of yellow slime moulds on branch

Fruiting bodies of slime moulds (Hemitrichia calyculata), photographed on rotten wood. Photo by Nathan Benstead/CUPOTY

Plants category winner

one flower drooping in distance

Snake’s-head fritillary flower (Fritillaria meleagris), taken in the city of Toulouse, France. Photo by Sebastien Blomme/CIPOTY

Micro category winner

Fury green algae on black background

A type of red algae (Batrachospermum) taken from a small river in Wigry National Park, Poland, and photographed under a microscope. Photo by Marek Miś

Invert portrait category winner

Black and brown spider close-up

This triangular spider species (Arkys curtulus) is an ambush predator, not a web-based hunter like most other species of spider. To hunt its prey, it sits compact and curled up on a leaf, mimicking bird poo. Photo by Jamie Hall/CUPOTY

Intimate landscapes category winner

ripples of water close-up

A building is reflected in the water of a nearby water feature, at Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. Photo by Mike Curry/CUPOTY

Insects category winner

many insects in flight at night

A swarm of termites fly around a light near a petrol pump in Cooch Behar, India, but unfortunately a drongo (a small bird) is swooping in and easily eating them all up. Photo by Anirban DuttaIntruder/CUPOTY

More images from Science Focus:

Fungi category runner-up

Fungi cap amongst spider webs

A scarlet waxcap slime mould, photographed in November 2021 in Ebernoe Woods, United Kingdom. Dew covers the slime mould as well as surrounding spider webs, in this eerie image. Photo by Jeremy Lintott/CUPOTY

Underwater category runner-up

pink fish resting on mussels

A blue spotted klipfish (Pavoclinus caeruleopunctatus) rests on top of some Mediterranean mussels, an invasive species in the waters of Steenbras Deep, False Bay, South Africa, where this photo was taken. Photo by Kate Jonker/CUPOTY

Invert portrait category runner-up

Brown worm curled up in a ball

This Gordian worm (Nematomorpha) is a parasitic beast that has just emerged from inside a fire back huntsman spider, in the rainforest creek of the Australian Sunshine Coast. These worms lay their eggs in water, and if an insect is unlucky enough to consume an egg when they drink, they will soon find such a worm growing inside of them. Photo by Ben Revell/CUPOTY

Animal category third place

Snake moving through brown sand

A Sahara sand viper (Cerastes vipera) makes its way over the sand dunes of the Negev desert, Israel, before getting into a good position to catch prey. Photo by Paul Lennart Schmid/CUPOTY

Butterflies category third place

Damsel fly resting on flower

A common winter damselfly (Sympecma fusca) rests on the tip of a grass spikelet, in this image taken in Fribourg, Switzerland. Photo by Kai Rosler/CUPOTY

Intimate landscapes category third place

Sea fan close-up

Close-up image of a sea fan, photographed in the waters of Aruba. Photo by Angelo Richardson/CUPOTY

Micro category third place

Close up of bright red flower

This incredible moss, identified as Schistidium, is only about 1mm wide at the head, where you can see what is known as peristome teeth. These teeth are common in mosses, and allow them to release spores gradually. This was photographed in Ulleråker, Sweden, in the photographer’s front room. Photo by Harald Cederlund/CUPOTY



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