The winners of this year’s Close-up Photographer of the Year were recently announced, and there are some truly amazing images with interesting stories to go along with them.
The overall winner was photographed by Samantha Stephens for her image of a pair of salamanders killed by a carnivorous plant.
“Northern pitcher plants typically feed on moths and flies, but researchers recently discovered a surprising new item in the plant’s diet: juvenile salamander,” says Samantha.
“While following the researchers on their daily surveys, I saw a jar with two salamanders swimming on the surface of the jar’s liquid, both in the same state of decay. I knew it was a special and fleeting moment.”
We’ve picked our favorites from the top 3 of each category, including stunning snakes, slime molds, and creepy 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.
Winner in the category animals and overall winner
Two juvenile spotted salamanders ( Ambystoma maculatum) were swallowed by a northern pitcher plant ( Sarracenia purpurea), a kind of carnivorous plant. These salamanders have already begun to rot in the bottom of the plant’s bell-shaped leaves. Photo by Samantha Stephens/CUPOTY Underwater Category Winner
This is a stalked jellyfish ( Lucernaria quadricornis), Hideout in the freezing waters of the White Sea, Russia. The green algae surrounding it indicate that spring is on its way. Photo by Viktor Lyagushkin/CUPOTY Winner in the Manmade category
This macro image was taken when two drops of oil merged and the image resembles a very funny face. Photo by Matt Vacca/CUPOTY Winner in the Mushrooms category
Some mature slime molds identified as comatricha, growing on an old rotten fence post. These shapes were locked in ice during the freezing cold night. The largest slime mold in this image is still only 3mm. Photo by Barry Webb/CUPOTY Winner in the butterflies category
A dewy male banded demoiselle ( Calopteryx splendens) resting on a reed, early morning in Ede, Netherlands. Photo by Wim Vooijs/CUPOTY Winner in the youth category
fruiting bodies of slime molds ( Hemitrichia calyculata), photographed on rotten wood. Photo by Nathan Benstead/CUPOTY Winner in the Plants category
Snakehead Mother of Pearl Flower ( Fritillaria meleagris), taken in the city of Toulouse, France. Photo by Sebastien Blomme/CIPOTY Micro Category Winner
A species of red algae ( Batrachospermum) Taken from a small river in Wigry National Park, Poland and photographed under the microscope. Photo by Marek Miś Reverse winner in the Portrait category
This triangular species of spider ( Arkys curtulus) is an ambush predator, not a web-based hunter like most other spider species. To hunt its prey, it sits compactly and curled up on a leaf, mimicking bird droppings. Photo by Jamie Hall/CUPOTY Winner in the Intimate Landscapes category
A building is reflected in the water of a nearby water feature in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. Photo by Mike Curry/CUPOTY Winner in the Insects category
A swarm of termites flies around a traffic light near a gas pump in Cooch Behar, India, but unfortunately a drongo (small bird) swoops in and easily eats them all. Photo by Anirban DuttaIntruder/CUPOTY
More pictures from Scientific focus: Second in the Mushrooms category
A scarlet waxcap slime mold photographed in Ebernoe Woods, United Kingdom in November 2021. In this eerie image, dew covers the slime mold as well as the surrounding spider webs. Photo by Jeremy Lintott/CUPOTY Second in the underwater category
A blue-spotted clipfish ( Pavoclinus caeruleopunctatus) resting on 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 Second in the Invert Portrait category
This Gordian worm ( Nematomorpha) is a parasitic beast that has just emerged from inside a fireback hunter spider in the rainforest stream of Australia’s Sunshine Coast. These worms lay their eggs in water, and if an insect is unlucky enough to eat an egg when it is drinking, they will soon find such a worm growing inside them. Photo by Ben Revell/CUPOTY Third place in the animal category
A Sahara sand otter ( Cerastes vipera) weaves its way across the sand dunes of the Negev Desert, Israel before getting in a good position to capture prey. Photo by Paul Lennart Schmid/CUPOTY Third place in the butterflies category
A common winter dragonfly ( Sympecma fusca) rests on the tip of a grass spikelet in this image taken in Fribourg, Switzerland. Photo by Kai Rösler/CUPOTY Third place in the Intimate Landscapes category
Close-up of a sea fan photographed in Aruba waters. Photo by Angelo Richardson/CUPOTY Third place in the micro category
This incredible moss identified as schistidium, is only about 1 mm wide at the head, where you can see the so-called peristome teeth. These teeth are common in mosses and allow them to gradually release spores. This was photographed in Ulleråker, Sweden, in the photographer’s living room. Photo by Harald Cederlund/CUPOTY