Here are the top ten images uploaded to Photocrowd from Round Ten, Close-ups, with comments from AP and our guest judge, Tracy Calder

Fit a macro lens to your camera and you open up a whole new world of photographic possibilities and ways of seeing. Tiny insects suddenly become frame-filling creatures, every detail revealed, while flowers and plant life become studies in shape, shadow and form.

And you don’t even need a macro lens – close-up photography is just as possible with a standard lens, particularly if looking for more abstract compositions. There’s something about the world in miniature that makes us appreciate detail all the more – as these outstanding top ten images reveal. This is the final round of this year’s APOY.

APOY Round Ten: Top Ten

1. Henrik Spranz Austria 100pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 180mm, 1/250sec at f/3.2, ISO 400

apoy round ten winner

Guest judge Tracy Calder says: ‘This image ticks all the right boxes for me: excellent fieldcraft skills, beautifully balanced composition, superb technical ability and wonderful storytelling. The butterfly in the foreground is staggeringly sharp, which works brilliantly against the soft, dreamy bokeh.

The background butterfly has enough detail for us to know that it’s a second clouded yellow and the inclusion of the plant stems stops the insects from looking as if they are floating in mid-air. The gap between the two butterflies is perfect and the way that they are facing each other seems to imply there is a silent exchange going on.

The picture feels like a true celebration of this particular species – there are some beautiful shapes and highlights in the frame, which make it feel as though the butterflies are stars on a grand, natural stage. It’s an absolutely beautiful image that makes me extremely jealous it’s not mine!’

2. Sara Jazbar Italy 90pts

Nikon D700, 150mm, 1/80sec at f/16, ISO 200

apoy round ten sara jazbar

A macro picture that’s so sharp, it almost doesn’t seem real. There, is of course, a lot more to good macro photography than sharpness, and this is a lovely example of a classic close-up.

Capturing the butterfly perfectly side-on allows the viewer to appreciate fully the shape of its wings and antennae, the size of its almost cartoon-like eye and, of course, the gorgeous combination of cream, black, blue and orange. The curly twig being used as a perch adds interest, and the whole thing is set off beautifully by that stunning bokeh.

3. Nguyen Tan Tuan Vietnam 80pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 100mm, 1/180sec at f/19, ISO 200

Nguyen Tan Tuan

The way this stunning betta fish (also known as a Siamese fighting fish) has been so cleverly photographed makes it look as if it belongs on the red carpet at the Oscars, or an episode of Strictly Come Dancing.

The low viewpoint, looking up at the underside of the fish, gives us a new perspective, as we would usually expect to see such a creature side-on, and allows the viewer to appreciate the extraordinary ‘pleats’ and folds of its elaborate fins. This imaginative capture has allowed Nguyen Tan Tuan to jump to the top of the leaderboard and become the overall winner of APOY 2021. Well done!

4. Kelly Stark UK 70pts

Fujifilm X-T2, 16-50mm at 23mm, 1/25sec at f/5, ISO 800

apoy round ten kelly stark

There are elemental forces at work here. The water carves a path in the rock, and Kelly has composed thoughtfully, with the stream flowing in a sharp diagonal, down to the bottom left corner of the frame, which adds dynamism to the scene, and gives it a sense of speed and urgency.

Furthermore, the limpets are taking advantage of this gash, with its patterns resembling river deltas viewed from high above. The colours are beautiful and the level of detail is spot on.

5. Julie Tennant UK 60pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 100-400mm at 400mm, 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

julie tennant

Capturing an element of behaviour can really elevate a wildlife image from something rather ordinary to something far more memorable. Here, the chipmunk is happily nibbling away on some grass, clearly undisturbed by the photographer.

The colours are fabulous and the reflection and sharpness in the eye is perfect. We particularly like the diagonal of the grass stem and the vertical strip of the second piece of grass on the left, which helps give just enough context against the very nicely blurred background. A characterful, pleasing portrait.

6. Molly Hollman UK 50pts

Sony RX10 III, 8.8-220mm at 168mm, 1/160sec at f/5, ISO 320

apoy round ten molly hollman

Some flowers simply demand to be studied in close-up, and nigella – or love-in-a-mist – is one of them. Molly has done an outstanding job of drawing our attention to the tutu-like shape of the petals and stamen, and has chosen just the right angle to frame it with the delicate green bracts.

By chance, the background was provided by her son, whose T-shirt provided the perfect complement to the flower. Molly spotted its potential as her son walked past, which demonstrates a well-tuned and responsive photographer’s eye.

7. Sara Jazbar Italy 45pts

Nikon D500, 150mm, 1/30sec at f/9, ISO 320

Sara admits this charming shot was staged, but intriguingly, it’s not actually a composite. Shot early one morning, while the ladybird was still torpid, she was able to create an unusual and eye-catching image.

Placing the ladybird at the base of the seed head has made it appear as if it’s flying off on an adventure – the background of the blue sky and its puffy clouds only emphasise the ‘story’.

Placing the bug towards the bottom left is the perfect way to compose such a deceptively simple shot. Sara is keen to emphasise that the ladybird was free to fly away as soon as the temperature rose.

8. Henrik Spranz Austria 40pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 180mm, 1/60sec at f/3.5, ISO 250

Another astonishing image from Henrik, who has made the romantic portrayal of insects and flowers in close-up his highly recognisable signature style. The images are all the more potent when you learn that everything is captured in camera.

He says he loves to express dragonflies’ tenderness and fragility in his images, and he has achieved this beautifully with this shot. The focusing is astonishing, with the point placed right on the dragonfly’s head, and the sharpness of its fragile wings falling away within millimetres. A magical shot that commands attention.

9. Adam Neuba Germany 35pts

Nikon D850, 60mm macro, 1/25sec at f/9, ISO 320

Adam’s minimal, beautifully constructed shot stands out for being entirely different from any other image in the top ten, and goes to show that close-up photography doesn’t begin and end with nature shots in situ.

His aim was to draw attention to the millipede’s ‘armour’, and he has done this extremely skilfully, with the light picking out the stripes created by each section, and giving it real depth. The stainless steel backdrop should be jarring, but it isn’t, and it serves to highlight the star of the show. Excellent composition and lighting brings it all together.

10. Fabio Sartori Italy 30pts

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 45mm, 1/125sec at f/5, ISO 200

apoy round ten fabio sartori

A fantastic shot that gives us a new perspective on the insect in its environment. The contrast between the emerald-like green of the bug and its almost pure white surroundings is stunning, while managing to compose so we can see both of its eyes either side of two strands shows remarkable skill and observation.

Placing the insect in the centre gives it all the more impact, and by filling the remainder of the frame with the dew-covered seed heads, Fabio has created a sense almost of imprisonment.

Round Ten Young APOY Winner

Gustav Parenmark Sweden 100pts

Nikon D750, 90mm macro with Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro, 1/200sec at f/11, ISO 200

young apoy round ten winner

Positioning the lacewing in the bottom right of the composition works wonderfully here, as does the striking colour combination. The damage to the insect’s antenna makes no difference to the impact of the picture – in fact, it signifies this is a living breathing creature,
with all its flaws and scars. Beautifully observed and expertly captured.

Camera Club Competition

Chris Robbins, UK 10pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 50mm, 1/125sec at f/16, ISO 100

camera club apoy round ten winner

The simplicity of including only two colours in this frame, as well as the sensitive use of negative space, is what makes this image eye-catching. As a shortlisted image, it wins Chris Robbins 10 points, but perhaps more importantly, it contributes to Launceston Camera Club – where Chris is a member – achieving a runaway win in that category of APOY (see right).

By encouraging as many members as possible to enter consistently throughout the competition, they accumulated points in each of
the ten rounds, resulting in a 270-point lead over the second-placed club, Bristol Photographic Society. Congratulations!

The 2021 leaderboards

After ten superb rounds full of inspiring and creative photography, we have our final results leaderboards for APOY 2021. Nguyen Tan Tuan has snuck into the lead to win the overall competition, while Young APOY has resulted in a dead heat in the battle between Muhammad Hossain and Lucy Monckton.

The Camera Clubs category was more than convincingly taken by the impressive group efforts of Launceston Camera Club. In this round, as Sara Jazbar and Henrik Spranz each have two images in the top ten, only their highest-scoring image scores points.

Congratulations to every entrant to this year’s competition.

Winning kit from MPB

The gear our winners used can be found at MPB Sara Jazbar shot her second-placed image using the Nikon D700. Launched in 2008, this versatile camera features a 12.1MP full-frame sensor, solid build quality and 5fps shooting speed. A camera that is still well worth considering today, the D700 can be picked up at MPB for between £159 and £314, depending on condition.

nikon d700

Taking third place, Nguyen Tan Tuan shot his captivating image using a Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. This superb macro lens features a true macro magnification ratio of 1:1, or lifesize, and what Canon calls a Hybrid Image Stabilizer system.

This is designed to counteract not only ‘normal’ shake but also lateral shifting of the lens – something that is typically a problem with extreme close-up shooting. This lens is available from MPB for £724 in like-new condition, or £604 in good condition.

canon 100mm macro

Coming in at sixth place, Molly Hollman photographed this elegant love-in-a-mist flower head with a Sony RX10 III. The main feature of this high-end bridge camera is its 24-600mm-equivalent f/2.4-4 Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* zoom lens.

sony rx10 III

It’s capable of a minimum focusing distance of around 3cm at its widest, and 72cm at its longest end, and features a 20.1MP sensor, as well as an ISO range of 100-12,800. Find one at MPB for anything between £724 and £824.

To browse the extensive range of stock at MPB, visit

Further reading

APOY Results Round Nine: Street

APOY Round Eight Results: Travel