French photographer Galice Hoarau – a professor in marine molecular ecology – has been named overall winner of Close-up Photographer of the Year 02 with his beautiful image of an eel larva spotted off the island of Lembeh (Indonesia) during a blackwater dive.

Galice Hoarau Eel Larva CUPOTY 2500px

‘Peering through the darkness with your torch can be stressful the first time you do it, but it gets fascinating quickly, explains Galice. ‘After sunset, small pelagic animals (like this larva) rise close to the surface to feed where the sunlight has allowed planktonic algae to grow. At sunrise, they dive into the depths and stay there during the day to escape predators.’

Galice takes home £2,500 and the CUPOTY trophy. He also sees his work displayed to a global audience in the Top 100 online gallery at

More than 6,500 pictures were entered this year, from 52 countries. There were seven categories: Animals, Insects, Plants & Fungi, Intimate Landscape, Manmade World and Micro (for images created using a microscope), plus Young Close-up Photographer of the Year, for entrants aged 17 or under.

While Galice took the top spot in the Animals category, Mike Curry wowed the judges with his shot of a butterfly surrounded by peeling paint in the Insects category. ‘The juxtaposition of manmade decay and natural beauty works beautifully here,’ said competition judge Ross Hoddinott. ‘The texture and pattern of the blistered paint creates a compelling close-up on its own, but the addition of the butterfly’s natural beauty and delicacy is a masterstroke.’

Winner of the Plants & Fungi category, Elizabeth Kazda, stayed close to home by gathering tulips from her garden and combining multiple exposures to create a striking graphic image, while entrant Mark James Ford trekked across a baking lava field in Hawaii, with heat rising from every crack, to create his image of lava flow setting – securing top spot in the Intimate Landscape category.

In the Manmade World category Kym Cox took the title for a second year with her study of the life cycle of a soap bubble. Competition judge Keith Wilson was particularly impressed. ‘At first glance, this is a puzzling picture that enthralls with its mystery,’ he commented. ‘Nothing is obvious here. And yet, like all good stories, it pulls you in, frame by colorful frame, until the reality unfolds and you are left in a state of wonder at the simplicity of it all.’ The Micro category amazed and delighted, with subjects ranging from lettuce leaves to callus removing substances. Electrician Andrei Savitsky fought off stiff competition with his image of a glass worm, taken with a smartphone.

It was another great year for Young Close-up Photographer of the Year, supported by SIGMA UK, with TamásKoncz-Bisztricz scooping the overall title for his magical shot of a springtail in a meadow close to his home in Hungary. ‘One frosty winter’s morning I headed out to take some extreme macro shots at the surface of some frozen water that had pooled in the tracks left by a tractor, he explains. ‘Crouching down, I spotted some yellow globular springtails which were feeding in the sun rays reflected from the ice. I used LED torches to illuminate one of them, and came away with a picture that celebrates this tiny creature.’

Whittling down the entries was a tough job, but expert judges Sue Bishop, Matt Doogue, Ross Hoddinott, David Maitland, Robert Thompson, and Keith Wilson rose to the challenge. Tracy Calder, co-founder of CUPOTY, said, ‘The standard was incredible! Yet again, entrants have shown that close-up photography can help us see the world anew and discover beauty in subjects that are often overlooked.’

Full details of Close-up Photographer of the Year 2020 Winners:

Animals (supported by

1.Galice Hoarau, Eel Larva (Winner and overall winner)
2. Csaba Daroczi, Spider in the Swamp (2ndplace)
3. Mathieu Foulquié, Bufo Bufo (3rdplace)

© Csaba Daroczi |
© Csaba Daroczi |
© Galice Hoarau | Animals and Overall Winner of Close-up Photographer of the Year 02
© Galice Hoarau | Animals and Overall Winner of Close-up Photographer of the Year 02
© Mathieu Foulquié | cupoty.comCommon toad (Bufo bufo) swimming at the surface, Buèges spring, Occitania, France
© Mathieu Foulquié | cupoty.comCommon toad (Bufo bufo) swimming at the surface, Buèges spring, Occitania, France

Insects (supported by Greenwings Wildlife Holidays)

1. Mike Curry, Fragile (Winner)
2. Juan Jesús González Ahumada, Water (2ndplace)
3. Chien Lee, The Signal, (3rd place)

© Mike Curry Fragile CUPOTY
© Mike Curry |
‘I was visiting Goole, the town where I was born in East Yorkshire, in 2018 as my dad was very ill in hospital. To take my mind off things I went for a walk with my wife Justine. There had been no time to pack really so all I had with me was my iPhone XS. We were walking towards the docks when I saw some beautiful peeling paint on an abandoned building site. I went over to photograph it when Justine asked if I had noticed the butterfly too. I hadn’t as I was miles away, but I had already captured this image serendipitously. It felt a surreal moment as my dad particularly liked butterflies and always commented that they represented relatives who had passed away, making it even more poignant. Unfortunately he passed away shortly after, so this is a special photograph for me.’

Plants & Fungi (supported by Affinity Photo)

1. Elizabeth Kazda, Mandala with Miniature Tulips (Winner)
2. Barry Webb, Slime Moulds on Parade (2ndPlace)
3. Henrik Spranz, Ballerina (3rdplace)

© Elizabeth Kazda Mandala with Miniature Tulips CUPOTY
© Elizabeth Kazda |
‘My goal with this photo was to create art that challenges the viewer to look at the natural world with fresh eyes. I collected some miniature tulips from my garden and placed them on a lightbox. The vivid yellow centres were so striking that I decided to create a composition that would show both a side view and a centre view of the plants. The tulips were photographed and rotated at eight equidistant positions to complete a full rotation; it’s a technique that I call Precise Incremental Rotation. An in-camera multiple exposure of eight frames was used to create the effect. The characteristics of the tulips are really emphasised when rendered within the rotational symmetry of the mandala form. The curved green leaves make a great frame for the flower, while the centre of the design highlights the tulip’s anthers.’

Intimate Landscape

1. Mark James Ford, Cast in Stone (Winner)
2. Anna Ulmestrand, The Bullet (2ndplace)
3. Edwin Giesbers, Ice Landscape (3rdplace)

© Mark Ford Cast in Stone CUPOTY
© Mark James Ford |
‘Trekking across the baking lava of the Kalapana lava field in Hawaii, was an experience not to be forgotten. Incredible organic structures of black, blue, gold and bronze seemed to overwhelm the senses, but eventually, the increasing presence of sulfur dioxide and other acidic gases acted as a reminder that I was walking on an erupting volcano. Heat was rising from every crack in the rock, and before my very eyes, the rocks would turn orange and suddenly begin to flow. New land, rock, and stone was being created just meters away from me. I had just seconds to capture this image of a lava flow setting into the form it would retain for millions of years. The glass-like rock was still glowing below the surface, but soon enough a new lava flow started centimeters from my feet and I was forced to retreat.’

Manmade World

1. Kym Cox, Life Cycle of a Soap Bubble Iridescence (Winner)
2. Melanie Collie, Towards the Mountain (2ndplace)
3. Mirka van Renswoude, Oil and Water 15 (3rdplace)

© Kym Cox Life cycle of soap bubble iridescence CUPOTY
© Kym Cox |
This series of time-lapse photographs shows columns of equally-sized soap bubbles in a glass, cylindrical tube. Each individual photograph – there are 16 here, illustrates light interference colours and patterns responding to directional light.
Swirling patterns of colour are created because bubbles are made of a liquid that continually flows, swirls and drains quickly and in all directions. Light waves reflect and refract through the bubble walls.
Variations in thickness causes variations in colour and intensity. The speed to which colours and patterns change is phenomenal with the light interference cycle taking only a few seconds to complete.
Individual photographs illustrate soap bubble scientific phenomena. As such, post-production and digital manipulation must be kept to a minimum.
Photographed in my Studio/Lab during May 2016, (as part of an Art + Science collaboration with Prof. Stefan Hutzler, Leader of the Foams + Complex Systems Group, School of Physics, Trinity College Dublin).

Micro (supported by Zerene Stacker)

1.Andrei Savitsky, Glassworm (Winner)
2. Marek Mís, Recrystallized Callus Remover 3(2ndplace)
3. Heather Angel, Green Hydra Multi Exposure(3rdplace)

© Andrei Savitsky Glassworm CUPOTY
© Andrei Savitsky |
‘Glass worms can vary in length from about half an inch to two inches. On the right side of this image, you can see the large tracheal bubbles that serve as hydrostatic organs (or swim bladders). These bubbles allow the larva to keep its horizontal position in the water column, while also helping to regulate the depth of its immersion. The bubbles are covered with dark pigment cells that can resize – if the cells expand due to absorption of light, the tracheal bubbles heat up and increase in volume, reducing the weight of the larva and causing it to float up. To create the picture here I made a panorama of eight frames, each of which was focus stacked. To make the image as detailed (and aesthetically pleasing) as I possible I used darkfield and polarisation techniques.’

Young (supported by SIGMA UK)

1Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz, Little Ball (Winner)
2. Giacomo Redaelli, Rock Star (2ndplace)
3. Emelin Dupieux, Butterflies in the Light (3rdplace)

© Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz | ‘I regularly visit a meadow near my hometown of Csongrád-Bokros, Hungary, observing the site in all seasons. The meadow is grazed by Hungarian grey cattle, which keeps the place in relatively good condition. One frosty winter’s morning I headed out to take some extreme macro shots at the surface of some frozen water that had pooled in the tracks left by a tractor. Crouching down, I spotted some yellow globular springtails (Sminthurus maculatus) which feed in the sunrays reflected from the ice. I used LED torches to illuminate one of them, and came away with a picture that celebrates this tiny creature.

The Top 100 entries can now be viewed at

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