10 Incredible Winning Images From The Close-Up Photographer Of The Year’s “Water Challenge”

Published 1 month ago

Water, the elixir of life, has long captivated photographers with its fluidity, transparency, and ability to reflect light in mesmerizing ways. In the realm of close-up photography, water presents a unique challenge and opportunity for photographers to capture its intricate beauty. Recently, the Close-Up Photographer of the Year competition dedicated a challenge solely to water, inviting photographers from around the globe to submit their most stunning close-up shots.

The results were nothing short of breathtaking, showcasing the awe-inspiring beauty of water in all its forms. Here are 10 incredible winning images from the competition that will leave you spellbound.

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#1 “Between the Stars” by Tibor Litauszki (Hungary). Overall Winner

Image source: cupoty.com

“‘In Germany, where I live, there are many clear and slow-flowing streams that provide excellent habitat for alpine newts. I have been following their lives for years, and last year was no exception. A few days after the frogs lay their eggs, at dusk, the newts appear and feast on the spawn all through the night. I wanted to capture this moment underwater. To do this, I placed my camera in an underwater housing, attached it with weights, and placed it under the frogs’ eggs. I was a bit nervous at first because I wasn’t sure if the underwater housing was completely waterproof. But I figured that if no bubbles appeared, my camera would stay dry. I manually set the focus on the lens beforehand and hoped to get lucky. Waiting nearby until it got dark, I illuminated the first newt that appeared with an LED light and triggered the camera with a homemade wired remote release.”

#2 “Poppies Tiarella in Ice” by Ian Gilmour (UK). 2nd Place

Image source: cupoty.com

#3 “The Ice Skater” by Sebastien Blomme (France). 3rd Place

Image source: cupoty.com

“For a long time, the idea of ​​capturing the graceful ballet of dragonflies flying over the Garonne (the river that winds near my home) had been running through my head. It’s enchanting to observe hundreds of these creatures circling, skilfully capturing midges and other insects in mid-flight every summer. One day, I settled in the water at a spot where I had noticed a dragonfly regularly returned to rest. I waited patiently for its return. At each appearance I fired my camera in burst mode, hoping to capture the moment when its wings would be spread in all their glory. After a hundred attempts, I finally managed to obtain the image I desired.”

#4 “Periscope” by Marco Maggesi (Italy). Finalist

Image source: cupoty.com

“This beautiful snake was looking for prey in a pond. I was really lucky because it stopped right in front of me to taste the air. The light was very soft because it was a cloudy day. I used a 300mm lens to capture this portrait. I will never forget this encounter.”

#5 “You See Better With Four Eyes” by Gabi Swart (Germany). Finalist

Image source: cupoty.com

“This picture was taken in a pond near Ladenburg, Germany. It was shot from a low angle so that the reflection of the frog’s eyes are just visible. I then decided to turn it upside down to confuse the viewer and encourage him/her to look more closely.”

#6 “Plastic Sailors” by Sandra Stalker (UK). Finalist

Image source: cupoty.com

“Hundreds of items covered in gooseneck barnacles wash up on Chesil Beach, in the UK, every year, carried there by winter storms. These are non-native to the UK and have usually traveled across the Atlantic. This particular item was a plastic bottle with a colony of goose barnacles and some fishing net I found on the beach. To tell the story of ocean litter becoming a habitat for wildlife, I took them to the sheltered side of Chesil in Portland harbor and re-floated them there. The water was about 8°C, I was in a wetsuit, and the water was incredibly choppy from the wind, which kept blowing the bottle away from me. I shot upwards as I loved the reflection on the surface of the water while keeping the bottle and barnacles as the main focus of the image.”

#7 “Sparkling Crown” by Claudia Gaupp (Germany). Finalist

Image source: cupoty.com

“Love-in-the-Mist (Nigella damascena) is the epitome of early summer for me. I have always been fascinated by the variety of nigella flowers. From the bud to the dried seed capsule – each phase holds its own secret. In this case, I was intrigued by the details of the stamens and petals, which are surrounded by net-like leaves. Shortly after a rain shower, the tiny drops of water caught in the leaves made me think of a sparkling crown on the bloom. I took the picture in my garden in natural evening light and converted it in post-processing to a very cool blue-green background to match the blue of the flower.”

#8 “Milking Bonnets” by Tony North (UK). Finalist

Image source: cupoty.com

“‘I found this clump of mushrooms with an almost perfect shape and number in Marbury Country Park, UK. I lit the scene from behind with an LED panel, both to fill the bonnets with light and to illuminate the droplets, which I created with a fine mist spray. My aim was to enhance the natural beauty of the fungi by adding more light and atmosphere. I focus bracketed 40 frames of the bonnets, then took one shot with the fungi and the “rain.” I combined the files later in Photoshop.”

#9 “Slime Molds and Raindrops” by Barry Webb (British)

Image source: cupoty.com

“Following overnight rain, I came across a colony of 2mm tall Physarum album slime mold fruiting bodies on a short section of beech branch, lying in leaf litter on the woodland floor. On closer inspection, I spotted this little group encased in raindrops. Carefully positioning the branch in a suitable position, taking care not to disturb the droplets, I shot 101 focus bracketed images to capture the full depth of the subjects. The resulting images were focus stacked using Zerene Stacker software.”

#10 “Long Over Dew” by Pete Burford (UK). Finalist

Image source: cupoty.com

“At Mousecroft pool, Shrewsbury, I photographed this damselfly covered in dew during the early morning hours, at around 3 am, in May. Given that insects are cold-blooded and need warmth to move, they typically rest at night. The sudden drop in temperature causes dew to cling to them. This moment is ideal for portraits as they cannot move or fly. As they warm up with the rising sun in the morning, they wipe away the moisture and fly off. To enhance the visual appeal, I used a colored background card to add contrast and additional hues to the image. Afterward, I stacked the frames in Helicon Focus, edited in Lightroom and Photoshop, and then finished off with Topaz DeNoise.”

Saumya Ratan

Saumya is an explorer of all things beautiful, quirky, and heartwarming. With her knack for art, design, photography, fun trivia, and internet humor, she takes you on a journey through the lighter side of pop culture.

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Close-up Photographer of the Year, CUPOTY, photographer, photography, photos, Water Challenge
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