WPY 2012

Photograph Details

Runner-up 2012

Creative Visions

David Maitland, UK

Sands of time

Watching one set of spicules after another come into focus under the microscope was, says David, ‘like drifting through a magical galaxy’. Spicules are the calcareous skeletal remains of tiny, soft-bodied marine invertebrates such as sea fans and sea whips (corals), sea cucumbers and sponges. These spicules, no bigger than grains of salt, accumulate on the seabed and wash up as sand, often turning beaches gleaming white. David attached his camera to a microscope to photograph an old sample on a Victorian slide. ‘I wanted an image that would reveal the diversity and architectural beauty of the remains.’ The technical challenge was to get a perfect plane of focus. ‘I spent ages making tiny adjustments, to get the right 3D effect,’ he explains.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Olympus BX51 light microscope; 10x objective lens; 1/100 sec; ISO 50.

Norfolk, UK: latitude 52.5205, longitude 1.08416 Norfolk, UK: latitude 52.5205, longitude 1.08416

Norfolk, 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.

  • Fading beauty
  • The tracheal tree