Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pioneer in marine photography - Douglas P. Wilson

Douglas P Wilson (1902- 1991), a marine biologist, was internationally acclaimed for his photographic studies in the field of natural history.
He was the first to photograph living plankton under the microscope.
Wilson’s work of the 1920s and 30s is highly regarded for its artistic excellence and his photographs still appears in books and journals around the world today.
Amongst the many specimens he captured on film is Noctiluca, a luminous dinoflagellate.
Wilson writes: When it is present in dense forms…when agitated by the dip of an oar or the breaking of a wave, the sea becomes brilliantly luminescent, the water glowing with light.
The phenomenon of marine luminescence is something which intrigued men for countless generations (including Robert Fitzroy, Captain of HMS Beagle).
Douglas Wilson’s interest in the photography began as a three year old when he posed for a family photo - his head fixed in a clamp so he couldn’t move during the extended exposure time required in those days.
At age 11 he bought his first cardboard box camera for a penny, took it home and successful developed his first photograph.
Wilson’s memoir, A Sea Life in Focus, edited by his daughter, biographer, Hester Davenport, is illustrated with original photographs.
It records not only of the marine specimens he photographed, but the methods he used and the specialized equipment he constructed in order to do so.
For his pioneering work in marine photography, Dr Wilson received many awards including the prestigious award of Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society (1987).
Image: Larva of Long-armed Starfish metamorphosing by D P Wilson.

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