April 13, 2022
Apple unveils the best photos from the Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge
Winners highlight the global community of iPhone photographers
Over the course of several weeks earlier this year, iPhone photographers from around the world shared their best macro photos for the Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge, making even the smallest details seem epic in images taken with their iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Today, Apple is announcing the 10 winners who highlight the global and diverse community of iPhone photographers, with finalists from China, Hungary, India, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and the US. Their stunning images will be featured on apple.com, on Apple’s Instagram (@apple), and on billboards in select cities.
The iPhone 13 Pro lineup features the most advanced camera system ever in an iPhone, and for the first time, users can capture sharp, stunning macro images on the device they carry with them wherever they go — opening up a photographic technique previously reserved for those with specialized camera equipment, to even more people. The winning images demonstrate that the beauty of macro photography is its ability to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and capture the little things in a big way. Photos include incredible nature shots that might be overlooked by the naked eye, like dewdrops on a spiderweb, snowflakes on a dog’s hair, a cavernous hibiscus flower, and a strawberry engulfed in tiny soda water bubbles.
An international panel of expert judges — Anand Varma, Apeksha Maker, Peter McKinnon, Paddy Chao, Yik Keat Lee, Arem Duplessis, Billy Sorrentino, Della Huff, Kaiann Drance, and Pamela Chen — selected the winning images and shared some insight on why they love these shots.
Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge — the Winners
“Sea Glass” by Guido Cassanelli
Buenos Aires, Argentina
From the photographer: “Sea glass is eroded by thousands of miles traveling around the oceans to the shores of the world. I was walking on the beach enjoying a beautiful sunset, and decided to collect some of these small pieces of sea glass to give macro photography on iPhone 13 Pro Max a try. It looks like something strange is happening inside the one placed in the center — it looks like amber. I really love that texture.”
“Photography at its best transports you. Guido Cassanelli’s beautiful image is ethereal, otherworldly, and mysterious. Clearly shot with the iPhone macro lens, but the resulting image has limitless expanse and scale. The psychedelic color range is simply gorgeous.” — Billy Sorrentino
“When we make use of the macro function, the tiny world becomes magnified, and this is a perfect example of that. To be honest, I do not even know what this substance is exactly, but the fact that there is symmetry in the chaos, paired with multiple vibrant colors, makes it super intriguing.” — Yik Keat Lee
“The Cave” by Marco Colletta
From the photographer: “The enveloping shape of the petals, accentuated by intense shadows, made me think of a deep cave, ready to be explored; by keeping the point of view inside the flower, I wanted the hibiscus’s natural framing to make us feel fully part of its beauty. When I first learned about macro mode, I thought it was one more cool new feature I was excited to get with my new iPhone 13 Pro. But when I started exploring its possibilities, I really started loving it. I discovered it gives me the possibility to turn nearly everything I see into an abstract subject, different from what it is in reality. This feature really did unlock my imagination.”
“The rich textures and colors of this image make it stand out, and the soft focus of the foreground is a wonderful compositional element that draws the viewer in.” — Della Huff
“Shooting from the side in macro is not an easy task because you have to consider whether the background will clutter the picture. I like the composition of this image with the buds surrounded by the petals, like it’s being held and cherished. The light and shadow bring a sense of serenity.” — Paddy Chao
“Art in Nature” by Prajwal Chougule
Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India
From the photographer: “I am a nature lover and love going on early morning walks with my iPhone 13 Pro. The ‘golden hour’ brings the best out of nature and is a photographer’s delight. Dewdrops on a spiderweb caught my attention, and I was fascinated by the way the dry spider silk formed a necklace on which the dew glistened like pearls. It felt like a piece of art on nature’s canvas.”
“A true example of a simple, graphic, yet beautiful image. The water droplets create these gorgeous little pearls that take on the intricate shape of the spiderweb. Simply stunning.” — Arem Duplessis
“This image is so perfect that it looks like an illustration. The well-arranged dewdrops on the spiderweb are captured with great detail. It’s something that most people would miss around them. There is some sort of harmony in the drops; at first glance, the viewer could be deceived on what the subject is. The iPhone does a fantastic job at focusing on such a fine detail, with close to almost no definitive background.” — Apeksha Maker
“A Drop of Freedom” by Daniel Olah
From the photographer: “My intention was to highlight the tiny drop of water in comparison with the lily. I’ve used a spot studio light on the lily with a dark background. I adore the shape of the flower; the lower petal helps keep the focus on the middle part, highlighting not just the drop, but the stamen, too. Nonetheless, the picture has a rhythm that is building toward the euphoria of the composition.”
“This image is reminiscent of a flower painting done by a Dutch master. The background frames the flower beautifully, and allows those gorgeous reds, greens, and blues to come forward against the rich black. The reflecting water droplet at the center could very well be a tear, as this image seduces the viewer’s emotions.” — Arem Duplessis
“I really like how clean this is. The water droplet in the center is an obvious focal point; however, I really like how clean the edges of the plant seem to come out. Very little fringe and artifacting for getting so close. The black background again gives this a very high-end fine art feel, which, let’s be honest, people pay a lot of money for.” — Peter McKinnon
“Leaf Illumination” by Trevor Collins
From the photographer: “This one instance was during the sliver of golden hour when the sun is shining directly into my window, illuminating all of the tiny cells in each leaf. The leaf depicted is from a fiddle-leaf fig that sits on my desk, where I get to see it all throughout the day.”
“Who knew an ordinary leaf could be so intricate? It’s remarkable how a simple backlight can reveal this hidden world of structure and connection that would otherwise go unnoticed.” — Anand Varma
“The reason I like this so much is the obvious layering. The depth of field created with the iPhone here very clearly shows you what the focal point is, and represents a fantastic example of how good the software is at completely isolating the foreground, leaving the background blurry. A perfect example of computational depth of field.” — Peter McKinnon
“Strawberry in Soda” by Ashley Lee
San Francisco, USA
From the photographer: “Using photography to transform everyday items into something more extraordinary is always a fun puzzle that brings out my creativity. For this photo, I used two items that I found in my kitchen fridge: a strawberry and a can of soda. I placed a clear vase on my kitchen counter, poured the soda into the vase, and used a piece of black paper as the background. I then dropped the strawberry in the vase of soda and waited. Slowly, bubbles began to form on the surface of the strawberry, and its texture was completely transformed. I was amazed by the level of detail I was able to capture by taking a macro photo, as I could see the individual bubbles from the soda that were forming on the strawberry’s surface. I chose a strawberry as the subject because I liked how the bright red popped against the black background. The stark contrast focuses your attention on the strawberry and its bubbles, and makes it seem as if the strawberry is floating in space.”
“This photo takes my breath away at first glance. The clarity with motion and the brightness of the strawberry really come through so delightfully.” — Kaiann Drance
“The photographer found a creative use of macro to celebrate the intricate texture of the humble strawberry. I love the energy of the air bubbles, captured at peak fizziness.” — Pamela Chen
“Volcanic Lava” by Abhik Mondal
New Milford, New Jersey, USA
From the photographer: “After buying the new iPhone 13 Pro in December, I was amazed with its macro feature and started capturing different objects, including flowers, insects, plants, and more. One day, during a regular evening walk, I went to a grocery store, where I noticed a bouquet of flowers. This beautiful sunflower caught my attention with its intricate details, including the presence of contrasting colors from the center toward the edge of the petals. I immediately decided to take the bouquet home and capture the beauty of it.”
“Flora and flower photography are the bread and butter of macro photography, and Abhik Mondal’s sunflower is a wonderful showcase of the power of iPhone. The petals lead the viewer toward the kaleidoscopic disk flowers and seeds. Contrast, texture, and smart framing make this a winner.” — Billy Sorrentino
“I feel like the world is my oyster when looking at this photo; the amount of texture in this macro shot is truly stunning, as is using rule of thirds to frame the flower and get the audience to ponder what is beyond the frame. This flower visual draws me in.” — Yik Keat Lee
“Honeycomb” by Tom Reeves
New York City, USA
From the photographer: “This image was taken along the edge of Riverside Park in Manhattan while on a morning walk with our puppy this winter. As she marveled at her first snow, I was able to capture the ephemeral latticework of this tiny snowflake as it landed among the threads of her many honey-colored curls.”
“This image is such a mood. You can practically feel the brisk winter wind that swept these snowflakes here, well seen in their most candid and unmelted beauty. The photographer was able to capture such a delicate detail that tells a larger story, full of movement and life.” — Pamela Chen
“Is this real, or are those small jewels? The snowflakes are elegantly captured with the detail from macro, and the strands of hair look like spun gold.” — Kaiann Drance
“Hidden Gem” by Jirasak Panpiansin
Chaiyaphum City, Thailand
From the photographer: “This tiny, shimmering liquid jewel is delicately nestled at the base of a leaf after a tropical storm, almost imperceptible to the human eye. However, its true brilliance shines through the lens of iPhone — up close, it sparkles with intense clarity, capturing light from the emerging sun and magnifying the intricate, organic geometry of the leaf’s veins underneath. This is nature encapsulated: a world of beauty and wonder made minuscule.”
“This is such an inviting image. I love the soft textures and rich greens, and the reflection and magnification in the water droplet really draw the viewer in.” — Della Huff
“I love the varied light in this image that illuminates the surface texture of the leaf, while simultaneously revealing its inner structure. For me, a successful photograph is one that encourages your eye to linger and explore. This image accomplishes that beautifully.” — Anand Varma
“The Final Bloom” by Hojisan
From the photographer: “The photo was taken when my 3-year-old son discovered the blossom of the tulip at home. I then appreciated the flower with my son and took out my iPhone, trying to capture the moment when the sun kissed the flower, which created a perfect shadow at the petals. As I moved my iPhone closer to the flower, it automatically turned on macro mode, and the details of the petals were brought into the fullest. A few moments later, wind came and blew the petals away. Even though the blossom was short, I still captured the highest moment of a tulip’s life, which is a gift from nature.”
“This photo is nothing short of a painting. What catches my eye instantly is the high dynamic range of the iPhone that smoothly evens the harsh and soft light. There is a beautiful harmony in the petals, making it so abstract. Seen from a distance, one wouldn’t be able to recognize the subject. Hojisan has used exposure settings of the iPhone on a harsh day to balance the background well. What completes the image is the ombré colors and fine lines on the petal so crisply captured.” — Apeksha Maker
“The asymmetrical composition and gestalt of Hojisan’s photograph is beautiful. Purposefully abstract, the negative space is as striking as the colorful textures and form.” — Billy Sorrentino
The advanced camera system on iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max features new Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras, all powered by the unmatched performance of the Apple-designed A15 Bionic. The new Ultra Wide camera features a much wider ƒ/1.8 aperture, bringing a 92 percent improvement for low-light environments, producing images that are brighter and sharper. The new lens design, autofocus capability for the first time in the Ultra Wide camera on iPhone, and advanced software allow users to capture impressive macro images and videos where subjects appear larger than life.
For those inspired to go out and capture their own macro shots, here are tips for iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max users:
- Make sure to get close to your subject — you can get as close as 2 centimeters (about an inch) away.
- Place the primary point of focus near the center of the frame, as that’s where the sharpest focus is when shooting in macro on iPhone.
- If desired, tap an area in the viewfinder to set a specific focus point.
- Shoot at .5x to capture an Ultra Wide field of view, or try shooting at 1x for tighter framing — iPhone will automatically switch cameras as you get close while maintaining the 1x framing.
To learn about the camera features on iPhone and for more iPhone photography tips, visit this page.
Apple Store locations around the world offer free, educational Today at Apple sessions created to inspire people to take creativity further with the products they love.
In celebration of the challenge, Billy Sorrentino, Della Huff, and Pamela Chen will join customers at Apple Fifth Avenue in New York City for a conversation on the art of macro photography, where they will share techniques for creating striking visuals with iPhone. Along with the conversation, attendees will learn tips and get a hands-on experience taking macro photos on iPhone 13 Pro. Customers can visit apple.com/today to join a local session.
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