Photography awards: Spectacular images show best of the world in stunning detail

Csaba Daroczi wins Close-up Photographer of the Year award

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Images of a bird in flight and nature under the microscope help show off rarely seen wonders of the natural world.

Hungarian photographer Csaba Daroczi was named Close-up Photographer of the Year for his nuthatch bird silhouette.

A picture of a Moorish gecko climbing a wall covered with tree-shaped minerals helped Carlos Perez Naval win the Young Close-up Photographer of the Year contest.

There are 11 categories: animals, insects, butterflies and dragonflies, Invertebrate Portrait, Underwater, Plants, Fungi and Slime Moulds, Intimate Landscape, Human-Made, Micro (for images created using a microscope) and Young Close-up Photographer of the Year (for entrants aged 17 or under.)

Mr Daroczi, who also won also won the Butterflies and Landscape categories, spent several days in the Hungarian forests perfecting his image of the tree trunk and bird.

Mr Naval used nature close to home for his winning shot. “In the wall of some houses in Calamocha – the village in Spain where I live – it’s possible to find pyrolusites,” he said.

“These magnesium minerals create stunning formations, which look just like petrified trees, but they are so small that they’re tricky to spot.

“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.”

The fifth Close-up Photographer of the Year attracted almost 12,000 entries from 67 countries.

For the third year running, British photographer Barry Webb won a category, this time it was a shot of slime mould wearing a crown of ice to carry the Fungi and Slime category.

Dutch biologist Rene Krekels won the Insects category with his acid firing ants.

US photographer Tibor Molnar captured a comical portrait of a Jumping Stick to triumph in the Invertebrate Portrait category.

Australian photographer Simon Theuma drew on Aboriginal art in his Underwater winning image of a Commensal shrimp floating above a Mosaic seastar.

Ria Bloemendaal’s magnolia tree reflected in water helped her to win the popular Plants category.

American artist Elizabeth Kazda captured 64 photos of coloured threads wrapped around a picture frame and won the Human-Made category.

Austrian photographer Gerhard Vlcek sliced a super-thin cross-section of beach grass in the Micro category.

“Thanks to these creative and original pictures, I now know that tadpoles can eat birds, ants fire acid like water pistols and bees sometimes hold each other’s legs while they sleep,” said CUPOTY co-founder Tracy Calder.

“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.”

A jury of 23 photographers, scientists, naturalists, journalists and picture editors picked the winners.

Updated: January 21, 2024, 10:08 PM