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

David is a UK-based professional nature and science photographer. He specialises in small and microscopic forms, raising awareness and understanding of the natural world and science. He is the recipient of numerous international awards, and his specialist super-macro photographic skills have been commissioned for bespoke advertising campaigns as well as collaborations with the BBC.

  • Sands of time
  • Minuscule Spicules
  • The tracheal tree