20 photos won the “Minimal” Close-Up Photographer of the Year Challenge in 2022.


The Close-Up Photographer of the Year Challenge for 2022 finished with Ferenc Kocsis, a Hungarian photographer, taking home a £300 prize. His photo “In Her Wedding Dress”, which shows mayflies from the Danube flying away, was showcased alongside 9 other works in the winner’s gallery.

CUPOTY, a contest held every November, focuses on a new theme each year. This year, co-founder Tracy Calder asked people to submit photos of minimal objects. She wanted simple and uncluttered images to be sent in, but was delighted to get a wide range of photos, from small insects to plants.

The expert judges Sue Bishop, David Maitland, Ross Hoddinott, and Nigel Atherton (the editor of Amateur Photographer) looked carefully at all the submissions. They chose the best photograph that showed minimalist style. According to Calder, it was a great example of how keeping things simple can really make a statement.

1 1st Place: Ferenc Kocsis wrote a piece called “In Her Wedding Dress.”

Image source: cupoty.com
© Ferenc Kocsis | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

This female Danube mayfly carries egg clusters and travels over the Danube River in Hungary. It lays its eggs near where it was born. In April, the larvae that live in the riverbed hatch and in August, the last stage of their life cycle occurs, with them flying one final time before dying.

2 2nd Place: Paul Gravett created a piece of art called “Colour Study 39”.

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© Paul Gravett | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

Even though they look like a painting, the Colour Study begins with a camera and photos of paper and colored sheets stacked three to five times on a glass shelf. The pictures are blended together in the computer to look like modern art including pointillism, different colors, transparencies, collage, and painting techniques. The key of this kind of experimentation is the unexpected results which deceive the eye and challenge what we think we know about photography.

3 3rd Place: Check out the book “Goosebumps” by Stefan Gerrits!

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© Stefan Gerrits | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I was in Varanger, Norway, near midnight during a snowstorm and saw a mountain hare (Lepus timidus). It was a very cold, wintry night in the far north. I was so cold, I was shaking, when I saw the hare with hair standing on end (like goosebumps on humans). I intentionally underlit the photo by 4EV and used a slow shutter speed of 1/13sec to give the snow a light and airy look.

4 Finalist: Benjamin Salb’s article “Details of a Rough Stink Bug” gives information about this particular bug.

Image source: cupoty.com
© Benjamin Salb | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I love looking for interesting details in everyday macro subjects, and this little stink bug was one of them. I saw it while I was taking pictures early one autumn morning. It was really cold so the subjects I saw were not very active, which gave me the chance to take the stick with the stink bug on it and position it in the air to show its unique features. I took 17 photos of it with my camera (which I later put together with Helicon Focus).

5 Finalist: “Murky Waters” is a story written by Lovre Culina.

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© Lovre Culina | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

This picture was taken from a bridge above the Tarcoles River in Costa Rica. I hoped to find a crocodile in the water below the bridge just as I had imagined, but that didn’t happen. I still managed to take a picture and then edit it to get what I wanted. Crocodiles are ambush predators, so I wanted to show one in its natural habitat in a way that would be mysterious to the viewer.

6 Shortlisted: Jeannet Van Der Knijff wrote a piece called “Gills”.

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© Jeannet van der Knijff | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

Last October, I found a parasol mushroom while taking a walk in the ‘Staelduinse bos’ in ‘s Gravenzande, Netherlands. The mushroom was broken so the gills underneath were visible. They created an intriguing pattern. I noticed a tiny black dot moving on one of the gills and when I got home, I realized it had legs – it was a mite! These tiny arthropods are less than 0.1 to 1.0 mm and can’t be seen with just the eyes. The image looks more like a giant maze than the underside of a mushroom because the mite was there!

7 Finalist: Kristina Zvinakeviciute wrote a story called “Shell”.

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© Kristina Zvinakeviciute | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

Shells are like the sea’s little secrets. I always pick them up when I go to the beach and this one I found at Formby Beach in the UK. I thought of a creative way to take a picture of this small shell; I used the mirror effect on Photoshop. I cropped, rotated, and adjusted the shot in Photoshop and then added a texture to the background. When I saw the final result it blew me away, as it looked like wings or a heart.

8 Finalist: Krisztina Mácsai wrote a song called “Stand By”.

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© Kristina Zvinakeviciute | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I was walking with classmates from my photography class in the forests of Normafa, Budapest. It was autumn and the forest was full of Cyclosa spiders. I looked for one of these orb-weavers so I could take a picture at an unusual angle. I had to be cautious not to damage its web. I was using a “nifty-50” camera with extension tubes because I didn’t have my usual Macro lenses. I was lucky because this set up didn’t let me down!

9 Finalist: Alex Pansier wrote the poem “Outer Space.”

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© Alex Pansier | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

This isn’t a picture from outer space, but a shot of an elephant seal. A few years back, I went on a photography trip to Antarctica, with a layover in South Georgia. The beaches were full of fur seals and elephant seals. This one had no problem with me photographing it in low key, which is my preferred style, while the sun lit it up nicely from behind.

10 Finalist: Gabi Swart wrote a poem called “Spider”.

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© Gabi Swart | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I saw a spider that had spun its web outside the attic window. I decided to take a picture of it against the sky. I ended up overexposing the photo by one f-stop, making it look like it was almost made of plastic. The spider’s web ended up disappearing because of the open aperture and the overexposure.

11 Finalist: “Lily Tip” is a book written by Jane Van Bostelen.

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© Jane van Bostelen | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I adored the Calla Lily’s trumpet shape and wanted to capture a minimal, minimalist image with clean lines. After trying different angles, I decided that making the tip of one petal entirely in focus, while blurring the rest via a shallow depth of field, was most impactful. I set up the lights in the studio and used a green backdrop so the flower’s shape looked sharp and the colors blended well.

12 Shortlisted: Morey Gers created a work of art called “Ice Droplet”.

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© Morey Gers | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

This picture was taken in St. Louis, Missouri, United States on a very cold winter day. I was searching for unique ice drops on a magnolia tree in my yard. This ice drop, which displays internal crystal patterns, is only around a quarter of an inch long.

13 Shortlisted: Clement Boyer wrote the song “Behind Blue Eyes”.

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© Clement Boyer | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

This Damselfly was captured in its natural habitat at Saint Peyronis in south-west France early in the morning around 7 am towards the end of July.

14 Shortlisted: Andy Sands created a work of art titled “Four Comatrichia Nigra”.

Image source: cupoty.com
© Andy Sands | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I noticed a line of four Comatrichia nigra slime moulds while searching the underside of a Beech branch that had fallen in my local woodlands. It was November and the area had been wet, which resulted in a white mould covering the branch’s surface. I captured the slim moulds with my Olympus OM1 camera, 60mm macro lens, and 2 extension tubes, combining in 56 photos. The blue sky and lack of leaves created attractive reflections. The background of the photos is a carpet of Beech leaves. The slime moulds were quite small, with the tallest one around 2mm tall.

15 Shortlisted: This is a book called “Marpissa Radiata” by Adrian Truchta.

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© Adrian Truchta | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

This jumping spider was living in a rolled leaf near a pond. It had big eyes–a really rare blue color!

16 Shortlisted: Jose Luis Gigirey wrote a piece called “A Ray of Light”.

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© Jose Luis Gigirey | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I discovered a small pair of Mycena sp. mushrooms in a nearby forest in Covas, Ames, Spain. To keep them in their natural setting, I blocked out their light with diffusers. I then used a small piece of black cardboard to reflect the sunlight so I could take a picture.

17 Shortlisted: Viola Ricci’s work is titled “Mosaic Tile”.

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© Viola Ricci | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I spotted something special in my garden in Italy’s Po Valley in late summer: a sparkling flutter of wings, which turned out to be a group of willow emerald damselflies. They were hunting mosquitoes and then settling on branches to eat them. I was astonished by their orange pterostigma clearly visible in the translucent wings.

18 Shortlisted: Ann Newman has written a book called “Contrarian.”

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© Ann Newman | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

I was looking for yellow in the fall foliage in the Sierra Mountains of California, but then I noticed something that made me stop and take a closer look. There were hexagons with a beehive-like pattern, and each one had a unique design – which I found really interesting. I bet the people who drove past me thought I was crazy!

19 Shortlisted: Martin Parratt’s work “Oil On Water 8”

Image source: cupoty.com
© Martin Parratt | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

This image is part of my ongoing photography project about the cool reflections that oil makes when it’s on water. It doesn’t cost much and is friendly with the environment – I don’t need to go anywhere using small amounts of simple materials, following the minimalist idea. Playing around with the oil can be difficult but entertaining – it takes a bit of skill and patience. The shapes and designs are real and not created on the computer. Touching up the photo later gave it the final look.

20 Shortlisted: Chris Manfield wrote the movie “21 Grams”.

Image source: cupoty.com
© Chris Manfield | cupoty.com. All copyright remains with the photographers

Photography has been used for a long time to document and understand truth. This photo was taken in a lab where investigators study animals that have died. When looking at the photo, we wonder why it was taken and for what purpose. All animals used for this purpose have been gotten in an ethical way; and it is noted how they died, either naturally, from a shelter, farm, or from a taxidermist. This raises the question of whether truth is only understood through documents or is there something else.

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