The annual Close-up Photographer of the Year competition has announced the winning images for its second themed challenge, “Two of a Kind”. These challenges take place outside of the contest itself (which opens for entries later this month). The winning shots of the Two of a Kind challenge range from mesmerizing to adorable.
What is the CUPOTY: Challenge?
Close-up Photographer of the Year (CUPOTY) is a massive competition with nine categories, a top prize of £2,500 (~$3,400) and thousands of entrants. The competition opens in late February and accepts entries through May, with winners announced in October.
The CUPOTY challenges – which run separately from the competition, during the “off season” – are much more targeted. There’s a single themed category, lower entry fees (from £10 or ~$14), and a smaller top prize of £300 (~$410) and a feature in amateur photographer magazine. The photos, however, still look great.
two of a kind
For this year’s CUPOTY challenge, photographers were invited to submit “close-up, macro and micro shots of two similar things, ranging from a pair of animals to a duo of cells or flowers.”
Similar to the main competition, we like how a “close-up photo” is officially defined in the rules:
“Any image that shows the subject more closely and in more detail than it would with the naked eye is considered a close-up photograph and may be entered into the competition.
“Close-up” is the spirit of the contest, but not its definition. Our aim is to show the small flora and fauna in a larger environment and slightly larger details of the landscape around us, as well as going macro, extreme macro and then microscopic.
We felt it left plenty of room for creativity, while not opening the door to any snapshots.
The winner of the challenge
Dutch photographer Alex Pansier has won the CUPOTY Challenge 2021 for his photo of a pair of European ground squirrels snobbing in Vienna. I love this shot, and not just for the cute animals. The soft and gorgeous green tones in the image are relatively unusual and work really well here.
British photographer Barry Webb took second place for his shot of a pair of slime molds. According to Webb, each mold is only 2mm (0.08″) tall, so it took a focus stack of 56 shots to get them so sharp.
Julia Briggs, another British photographer, took third place for her black and white shot of two “leaf skeletons”. I really like how the leaves manage to be both abstract and instantly identifiable patterned shapes.
Some of our other favorites
There are 21 great photos included in the winner’s gallery. Here are a few others that we particularly liked.
How to participate in the next COPTY contest
The next Close-up Photographer of the Year competition opens later this month. Keep an eye on the website for more details, including categories, entry fees, prices and the exact closing date.