In 2020 Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry organised the Nature Photography Contest. It was the very first photo competition I took part in. The goal was to explore and document the diversity on the campus in Martinsried.
This research institute is surrounded by the city forest and fields full of plants and wild animals. Employees built bird tables and squirrels are their frequent guests too. The gardeners make sure that the meadows are not completely cut in summer to leave space for bees and butterflies. And it is not uncommon to meet goose families walking around the pond, which is also a home for fish, dragonflies and moorhens. However, it is very easy to ignore all those wonders if work occupies our minds.
The place is like a playground for nature photographers and I spent some afternoons walking around looking for perfect models for my macro shots. I focused on capturing some butterflies and other tiny living creatures. It wasn’t easy to pick images for the competition, because very often my favourite photos are not my best ones. Since each picture required a short description, I picked the ones with the most interesting background stories.
Photo 1: Rover’s landing
The image shows a Braconid wasp landing on flowers. It is illuminated by a solar lamp, which gives a cosmic feeling to the scenery. Its lifestyle also refers to “invasion”, since it lays eggs inside a host insect and the larvae feed on the host.
Photo 2: Light as a feather
The common blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) – its Latin name refers to mythological Icarus who used birds’ feathers to fly above the sea to escape from Crete island. This butterfly is very tiny with a wingspan of 3.5 cm, which makes it delicate and unnoticeable when flying. It is also very sensitive to strong winds.
Photo 3: Sweet as sugar
The common blue butterfly – its caterpillars excrete a sweet substance that attracts ants who in turn protect them from predators by bringing them to the nest. The males have completely blue upper sides, whereas females, like the one in the photo, are brown with orange dots and a bit of blueish tint on their bodies.
The rest of the photos which didn’t make it to the competition are in the gallery at the end of this post.
I didn’t win any prize, but the biggest reward was to see my photos printed and exhibited in the institute’s hallways. I am also much more curious about what is happening in all the hidden corners on the campus.
To see the gallery with photos from other contestants, please visit the website of MPI of Biochemistry.