WPY 2018

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2018

Creative Visions

David Maitland, UK

Minuscule Spicules

David captured this high-magnification image from an old museum slide, using differential interference contrast. The lighting technique is used to reveal the 3D structure of microscopic specimens. With an interest in science, nature and art, David created it to capture the viewer’s attention. He says, ‘I hope they ask the question: “what is that?”’.

Resembling a boat’s anchor, these are the minuscule projections from the skin of a sea cucumber, known as spicules. These needle-sharp structures are composed of a transparent, brittle mineral formed from calcium carbonate. They protect the soft bodies of these marine invertebrates, and are key to distinguishing between the numerous species of sea cucumber.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark II + Olympus BX51 light microscope + 10x 0.4 objective lens; 1/6 sec; ISO 50


Luce Sands, Galloway, Scotland: latitude 54.755257, longitude -4.753834 Luce Sands, Galloway, Scotland: latitude 54.755257, longitude -4.753834

Luce Sands, Galloway, Scotland

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David Maitland

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.

  • Fading beauty
  • Sands of time
  • The tracheal tree