WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Specially commended 2011

In Praise of Plants and Fungi

David Maitland, UK

Fading beauty

On a car-park embankment near David's home in Wiltshire, a mass of poppies appeared one day. 'I love poppies,' he says, 'and I can't resist photographing them. It's hard to think of another plant that's so fleetingly beautiful . . . But when poppies flower en masse, it's almost too much, and it's hard to capture the ephemeral nature of their beauty.' For a week he checked on the patch every day, looking for a particular grouping. 'I wanted an image of simplicity - mostly of spent seedheads, with just a few poppies still in full bloom,' he explains. From a prone position, he shot them against an overcast sky to create an architecture of stems 'with little flashes of brilliance'. Three days later, someone 'weed-killered the lot,' he says. 'Most hadn't set seed. So there'll be no poppy meadow there next year.'

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 70-200mm f2.8 lens; 1/160 sec at f11; ISO 50.


Calne, Wiltshire, UK: latitude 51.4393, longitude -2.00388 Calne, Wiltshire, UK: latitude 51.4393, longitude -2.00388

Calne, Wiltshire, UK

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David Maitland, UK

Photography featured prominently in David’s PhD studies of animal form and function, and he went on to become a full-time nature photographer in 2006. Based in Norfolk, UK, he is a close-up and super-macro specialist who has won many awards. His artistic portrayal of nature’s details is in great demand for bespoke publishing, advertising and television commissions.

  • Sands of time
  • The tracheal tree