Apple unveils Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge winners — here's the top photos

Ashley Lee
(Image credit: Ashley Lee)

The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are two of the best camera phones around, and that's partly because of how powerful these cameras are when you want to get up close.

To highlight that, Apple invited iPhone photographers from around the world to submit their best shots as part of the Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge, which ran from January 25 to February 16.

Today Apple is announcing the winners of this challenge, and we got an early look at the winning photos. Using a panel of expert judges, there are 10 winning photos overall, and we've highlighted the top macro shots below, including dewdrops on a spiderweb and snowflakes on a dog's hair. 

It's easy to take macro photos on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, thanks to a new ultra-wide camera with a f/1.8 aperture, powerful autofocus system and advanced software. You can get as close as 2cm to your subject to get highly detailed shots. In fact, the iPhone 13 Pro macro photos are so good it's creepy

Here are the winning photos in the Macro Challenge contest.  

Art in Nature (Prajwal Chougul, India)

“Art in Nature” by Prajwal Chougule (Image credit: Prajwal Chougule)
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Prajwal Chougul, who is a software engineer with a passion for photography, loves going on early morning walks with his iPhone 13 Pro. And it's his "golden hour" that he believes brings the best out of nature. "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," said Chougul. 

Volcanic Lava (Abhik Mondal, New Jersey)

“Volcanic Lava” by Abhik Mondal (Image credit: Abhik Mondal)
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Volcanic lava is a fitting title for this photo, as the center disk of this sunflower resembles flowing molten lava over the yellow petals. Abhik Mondal, who is a computer systems engineer, was struck by the contrasting colors in the sunflower while in a grocery store. He decided to take the bouquet home and "capture the beauty of it.”

Honeycomb (Tom Reeves, New York)

“Honeycomb” by Tom Reeves (Image credit: Tom Reeves)
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Now this is a macro shot. Tom Reeves, who lives on the Upper West Side in New York City and is completing a graduate degree in information science, took this photo of his own puppy during a morning walk this winter. "I was able to capture the ephemeral latticework of this tiny snowflake as it landed among the threads of her many honey-colored curls," said Reeves. 

A Drop of Freedom (Daniel Olah, Hungray)

“A Drop of Freedom” by Daniel Olah (Image credit: Daniel Olah)
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In this photo of a lily, photographer Daniel Oh wanted to highlight the tiny drop of water in comparison with the flower. So he used a spot studio light on the lily along 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," said Oh. 

Sea Glass (Guido Cassanelli, Argentina)

“Sea Glass” by Guido Cassanelli (Image credit: Guido Cassanelli)
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The best macro shots give you a sense of wonder and make you question what the subject is. That's the case here with this photo of sea glass taken by Guido Cassanelli, a 32-year-old photographer who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "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," said Cassanelli. "It looks like something strange is happening inside the one placed in the center — it looks like amber. I really love that texture.”

The Cave (Marco Coletta, Italy)

“The Cave” by Marco Colletta
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Not bad for a 22-year-old mechanical engineering student. Marco Colletta was inspired by how is iPhone 13 Pro allows him to turn everyday objects into abstract subjects. And that's the case here with this hibiscus flower. “The enveloping shape of the petals, accentuated by intense shadows, made me think of a deep cave, ready to be explored," said Colletta. 

Hidden Gem (Jirasak Panpiansin, Thailand)

“Hidden Gem” by Jirasak Panpiansin (Image credit: Jirasak Panpiansin)
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One of my favorite Shot on iPhone award winners for this macro challenge, there's something about the stark simplicity of this photo. Photographer Jirasak Panpiansin captured this drop of water on a leaf after a tropical storm, which he calls a "shimmering liquid jewel." You can also make out the "intricate, organic geometry of the leaf’s veins underneath."

The Final Bloom (Hojisan, China)

“The Final Bloom” by Hojisan (Image credit: Hojisan)
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Hojisan, who is professional photographer based in Chongqing, China, took this photo of a tulip blossom at home after it was discovered by his 3-year-old son. He wanted to capture the moment when the "sun kissed the flower, which created a perfect shadow at the petals."

Leaf Illumination (Trevor Collins, Boston)

“Leaf Illumination” by Trevor Collins (Image credit: Trevor Collins)
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This fiddle-leap fig sits on the desk of graphic designer Trevor Collins all day, but it's transformed "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 level of depth and detail in this leaf is pretty stunning. 

Strawberry in Soda (Ashley Lee, San Francisco)

"Strawberry in Soda" by Ashley Lee (Image credit: Ashley Lee)

In this photo Ashley Lee used two items she found in her kitchen fridge: a strawberry and a can of soda. She put both items in a clear vase and used a piece of black paper as the background. The result is a strawberry that looks like it's floating in space. "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," said Lee. 

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.