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Photography Science

Nature’s Diversity is Captured in Minuscule Detail in the 2022 Close-Up Photographer of the Year Competition

January 8, 2023

Kate Mothes

A photograph of yellow slime mold.

Nathan Benstead, “Hemitrichia calyculata,” Young Category Winner. All images © the photographers and Close-Up Photographer of the Year, shared with permission

Among the winning images of the Close-Up Photographer of the Year contest, a frilly slime mold stems from leaves, elegant insects splay colorful wings, and microscopic patterns create vivid abstractions. Now in its fourth year, the competition attracted more than 9,000 entries from 54 countries.

The overall winner of this year’s competition was captured by Samantha Stephens and glimpses two tiny amphibians trapped inside a carnivorous plant. She explains, “typically, these plants feast on invertebrates such as moths and flies, but recently, researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station discovered a surprising new item on the plant’s menu: juvenile Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).” It was a timely capture; by the following day, the creatures had sunk to the bottom of the pitcher.

See some of our favorite captures below, and visit the contest’s website to view the Top 100 photographs of the year.

 

A photo of a moth on a leaf.

Uday Hegde, “Atlas Moth.” Second Place Dragonflies and Butterflies Category Winner

A photo of two juvenile salamanders in a pitcher plant.

Samantha Stephens, “Nature’s Pitfall,” Overall Winner and Animals Category Winner

A photograph of an insect that has been eating holes out of a leaf.

Minghui Yuan, “Little Naughty Draw Circle,” Third Place Insects Category Winner

A photograph of slime mould that looks like tiny mushrooms.

Andy Sands, “Slime Mould [Didymium Squamulosum] on Holly Leaf,” Third Place Fungi Category Winner

An abstracted photograph of water in seaweed.

Angelo Richardson, “Sea in Fan,” Third Place Intimate Landscape Category Winner

A microscopic image of algae.

Marek Miś, “Batrachospermum Red Algae,” First Place Micro Category Winner

A photograph of a gordion worm knot.

Ben Revell, “Gordian Worm Knot,” Second Place Invertebrate Portrait Category Winner

Pietro Cremone, “The Martian,” Underwater Third Place

A photograph of a pink fish among shells on the sea floor.

Kate Jonker, “Beauty and the Beast,” Second Place Underwater Category Winner

A photograph of two birds on a table outside of a pizza shop in Germany.

Anton Trexler, “Doner Kebab and Pizza,” Third Place Young Category Winner

 

 

 

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Photography Science

This Year’s Small World Photo Contest Unveils the Astounding Details Only Visible Under the Light Microscope

October 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

Long-bodied cellar/daddy long-legs spider (Pholcus phalangioides), Dr. Andrew Posselt. 4th place. All images courtesy of Nikon Small World, shared with permission

For 48 years the Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition has garnered some of the most awe-inspiring and illuminated images of all that’s visible once placed under a light microscope. The 2022 contest continues the tradition with a captivating collection that exposes the minuscule details of life on Earth. Winning images zero in on the prickly hairs covering a daddy long-legs, the trippy patterns of a marine snail’s tongue, and the tessellation-like heads of a slime mold. This year’s top photos were selected from more than 1,300 entries from 72 countries, and you can see some of our favorites below. Peruse the entire collection on the competition’s site.

 

Radula (rasping tongue) of a marine snail (Turbinidae family), Dr. Igor Siwanowicz. Honorable mention.

Unburned particles of carbon released when the hydrocarbon chain of candle wax breaks down, Ole Bielfeldt. 6th place.

Cross sections of normal human colon epithelial crypts, Dr. Ziad El-Zaatari. 15th place.

Embryonic hand of a Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis), Grigorii Timin & Dr. Michel Milinkovitch. First place

A fly under the chin of a tiger beetle, Murat Öztürk. 10th place.

Slime mold (Lamproderma), Alison Pollack. 5th place.

Butterfly egg, Ye Fei Zhang. Honorable mention.

Ammophila arenaria (grass stem), Anatoly Mikhaltsov. Image of distinction.

Paper wasp stinger, Pablo Piedra. Image of distinction.

 

 



Photography Science

In ‘Extinct and Endangered,’ Photographer Levon Biss Magnifies the Potential Loss of Insects Around the Globe

June 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Madeira brimstone. All images © Levon Biss, courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History, shared with permission

Despite existing on separate continents thousands of miles apart, the Madeira brimstone and giant Patagonian bumblebee are experiencing similar hardships. The former, which inhabits the islands it inherits its name from, is dealing with an invasive species decimating the trees its caterpillars require pre-metamorphosis, while the latter has been struggling to survive in its native Chile after farmers introduced domesticated European bees to aid in crop pollination. Both species are in danger and are part of an ongoing exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History conveying what’s at stake if their species are lost entirely.

Extinct and Endangered is comprised of massive, macro shots by Levon Biss, a British photographer who’s amassed a stunningly diverse collection of images with a variety of natural subject matter from dried seeds to iridescent insects. Biss often collaborates with institutions like the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Oxford Museum of Natural History, gaining access to their archives and selecting specimens. He then takes about 10,000 individual images using various lenses that are then stitched together to create extraordinarily detailed shots of beetles, moths, and butterflies.

 

Raspa silkmoth

From the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of more than 20 million, Biss chose just 40 creatures, some of which have already vanished. “To know an insect will never exist on this planet again, primarily because of human influence, is upsetting and emotional. And it’s humbling,” he told The New York Times. “As an artist, it’s the thing that drives me on to make that picture as good as it can be.”

Spanning up to eight feet, the photos are immense in scale and focused on each specimen’s striking forms, whether the undulating wings of the 17-year cicada or the intimidating tusk-like appendages of the lesser wasp moth. Biss hopes that Extinct and Endangered, which is on view through September 4, will raise awareness about the rapid decline in insect populations around the world. “I want people to be in awe of their beauty but to also be damn sad about why they’re being put in front of them,” he says.

Prints of the collection are available on Biss’s site, and you can explore an extensive archive of his works on Instagram.

 

Ninespotted lady beetle

Giant Patagonian bumblebee

Sabertooth longhorn beetle

17-year cicada

Blue calamintha bee

Lesser wasp moth

 

 



Photography Science

In ‘Seed Stories,’ Photographer Thierry Ardouin Unveils the Stunning Diversity of Plants

June 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

Proteaceae, Banksia grandis Willd., bull banksia. All images © Thierry Ardouin/Tendance Floue/MNHN, shared with permission

The basis of life for many species, seeds hold immense power for reproduction and population. Whether a descendent of the first specimens that appeared approximately 400 million years ago or a modern hybrid cultivated to increase food production, the generative forms are often visually striking in their own right with otherworldly colors, textures, and shapes.

Photographer Thierry Ardouin showcases these marvelous, strange qualities through hundreds of striking macro shots now compiled in a forthcoming book and exhibition. Positioned against stark black or white backdrops, the specimens are primarily derived from the carpological archives of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, although some come from the International Agricultural Research Centre for Development and the Straw Cereal Biological Resource Centre. This wide-ranging collection includes the veiny, coiled moon trefoil, snake-like scorpion vetch, and small-bur marigold with its prickly body and horns.

The idea for the project germinated more than a decade ago when Ardouin was working on a documentary about French agriculture and discovered that large corporations own the patents to many seed varieties. He explains:

In 2009, in a very particular political context regarding undocumented immigrants, I noticed that there were ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ seeds. The question arose : does a “legal” seed look like an “illegal” seed? But seeds are tiny and, to see them, I had to get close to them and make portraits of them, as I would do for human beings.

He’s documented approximately 500 specimens since, half of which appear in the pages of Seed Stories to be released this month from Atelier EXB. Spanning 336 pages, the volume is a testament to the incredible diversity and resilience of the natural world. Many of the photos are also included in a group exhibition opening on June 18 at the CentQuatre Paris, which will pair the images with seeds from the National Museum of Natural History collection that visitors can touch and even taste.

Find more of Ardouin’s works on his site, and follow his latest projects on Instagram.

 

Clematis delavayi Franch. Ranunculaceae. Clématite

Fabaceae, Hippocrepis scorpioides Benth., Scorpion vetch

Medicago scutellata (L.) Mill. Fabaceae. Luzerne à ècussons.

Asteraceae, Bidens frondosa L., small-bur marigold

Hedysarum glomeratum F. Dietr. Fabaceae. Sainfoin à têtes

Fabaceae, Medicago arborea L., Moon trefoil

 

 



Photography

A Macro Short Film of Glitter and Ink Simulates Dramatic Astronomical Events

April 24, 2022

Christopher Jobson

The last time we checked in with filmmaker Vadim Sherbakov he was soaring high above Iceland, capturing stunning aerial views with the help of a drone. In his latest short, “Velocity,” he zooms into ethereal mixtures of soap, ink, glitter, and alcohol that appear to simulate a combination of biological and galactic phenomena. The driving idea behind the film’s creation was simply “a colorful journey through uncharted cosmos,” says Sherbakov. He collaborated with set designer Luidmila Tregub, who was responsible for creating the primordial mixture of liquids that result in several amazing sequences in the film. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 



Photography

Stunning Shots from the 2021 Close-Up Photographer of the Year Competition Unveil Nature’s Minuscule Details

October 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Johan De Ridder’s “Triplets in Green.” All images courtesy of CUPOTY, shared with permission

Salamander silhouettes, an ant clutching a snack, and the diverse findings of an unintentional insect trap are a few of the winners of the 2021 Close-Up Photographer of the Year contest (previously). Now in its third year, the global competition garnered more than 9,000 entries across 55 countries, an incredible selection that unveils the stunning and minuscule details of the natural world. See some of our favorite shots below, and view all winners on the contest’s site.  (via Kottke)

 

Pål Hermansen’s “Insect Diversity”

Juan Ahumada’s “Dancing in the Dark”

Andy Sand’s “Lachnum niveum”

Laurent Hesemans’s “Snack Time”

Svetlana Ivavnenko’s “Fight”

Alessandro Grasso’s “Circular Octopus”

Ripan Biswas’s “Mating Underwater”

Minghui Yuan

Daniel Trim