Culture Inspirations

A bug’s life! These winning images will make you go macro

Here are the year’s most inspiring invertebrate images from the Luminar Bug Photography Awards...

If there’s just one thing we’ve learned in this past year, it’s how much use you can get out of a macro lens. With so many of us turning our photography to home projects, it’s no wonder macro lenses – as well as close up filters and reversing rings – have been so popular. Of course you can shoot almost anything with a macro, but one of the most enduring and compelling subjects is always wildlife – and in the main, ‘bugs.’ 

© Sara Jazbar / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

As if you needed any convincing of the photographic potential of insects and other invertebrates, check out the results of the most recent Luminar Bug Photography Awards. The 2020 awards, in association with Europe’s leading invertebrate charity, Buglife, has yielded some absolutely cracking shots, divided into 11 categories and originally plucked from over 5,000 submissions worldwide. And the judging panel including Buglife President, Germaine Greer, TV presenter and naturalist Nick Baker, and ground-breaking macro photographer, Levon Biss, has picked some great images.

© Heath McDonald / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

The annual awards are designed to celebrate photography of invertebrates and raise awareness of the plight of so many species that are in decline or threatened with extinction. According to the organisers, “the awards have raised valuable funds for the conservation efforts of Buglife,” so a big well done to them for that. 

Many of the entries clearly use lenses and optics that create greater-than-life-size images of tiny critters, for instance Canon’s legendary MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro, or the amazing Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X, available for Canon, Nikon or Sony mounts. But many are clearly shot on more regular macro glass like Nikon’s AF-S DX Micro 85mm f/3.5G ED or Sigma’s 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro OS HSM. Whatever lens you have – or are thinking of buying – you’re sure to find plenty of inspiration in this year’s top photos.

© Mofeed Abu Shalwa / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

So, it’s onto a selection of the winners! The overall Luminar Bug Photographer of the Year 2020 award was given to Mofeed Abu Shalwa, a Saudi Arabian photographer who apparently “started photographing invertebrates as a way of overcoming his childhood phobia of insects!” Mofeed’s entries were shortlisted in several categories, including ‘Extreme Close-Up’, which featured the striking photo of a red palm weevil, above. Mofeed was also shortlisted in the ‘Beetles’ category with his photo of a longhorned beetles, below, as well as being placed in the ‘Arachnids’ category.

© Mofeed Abu Shalwa / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.
© Lung-Tsai Wang / / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

Winner of the Arachnids category was Lung-Tsai Wang, whose image ‘Microspur 1’ features a Lynx Spider with its young, taken in the mountains of Taiwan. Another of our favourite images was from Sara Jazbar who claimed third place in the ‘Butterflies and Moths’’ category with her image ‘Aporia in infrared’. The creative shot, below, features a black-veined white butterfly.

© Sara Jazbar / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.
© Chris Ruijter / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

Next up, here’s Chris Ruijter’s image ‘Purple Haze’, which was placed third in the ‘Flies, Bees, Wasps and Dragonflies’ category, shot at sunrise and featuring a banded demoiselle. There was also a ‘Snails and Slugs’ category, which was won by David Lain, whose classic portrait of a garden snail, below, made for a simple and very effective image framed against a black, ceramic tile.

© David Lain / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.
© Galice Hoarau / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

And in a step out of the ordinary, the ‘Aquatic Bugs’ category saw a winning entry from Galice Hoarau, featuring a diamond squid, shot in Siladen, Indonesia during a blackwater dive. Second place in that category went to Galice, too, with another amazing image, this time featuring a larval wunderpus octopus, once again captured in Indonesia.

© Galice Hoarau / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

Last but most certainly not least, the Luminar Young Bug Photographer of the Year 2020 went to Jamie Spensley from Solihull in the UK. Jamie’s technically brilliant shot of a carder bee was created from a stack of 41 separate exposures to counter the shallow depth-of-field that extreme macro photographs produce.

© Jamie Spensley / Luminar Bug Photography Awards 2020.

For loads more amazing winning images, runners up and shortlisted images, make sure you visit the Luminar Bug Photography Awards website, and if you’ve been growing your macro skills recently, remember to enter next year’s competition for the chance to pit your skills against the best – and most importantly do some good for wildlife conservation.