William Scully


I want nature to be big. I want it to be a wild and boundless world to dream of and explore. But I have come to accept that today it is fractured and scattered about the planet in pieces. Yet even in those fragmented spaces, there are small places for discovery and finding solitude in the new wilderness. There are overlooked microcosms all around – by roadsides and in weedy cracks of pavement, and hidden under the reflections on waters’ surface. As I seek out and probe into these areas of the natural world I find inspiration for my photographic work. Moving slowly and deliberately with my camera, I look for nature’s gesture amid the chaos and create art that reflects my experience in the sensual world.

TECHNICAL NOTES ‐ ‘Microbotanicals’

Prepared slides of various botanical specimens are photographed using a digital SLR camera mounted onto a compound microscope. Magnified images of each specimen are projected by the microscope directly onto the camera’s sensor, and the camera is tethered to a laptop for better viewing. Because only partial views of the tiny slide‐mounted botanical specimens can be seen at one time a series of overlapping photographs must be captured that encompasses the whole specimen. These overlapping photos are stitched together using a software program that seamlessly unifies them into a single image. Also, because of a microscope’s extremely shallow depth of field, there is an additional level of complexity: for each of the overlapping segments the microscope focus must be adjusted in tiny stepwise increments to capture a stack of identically composed photographs, each having subtle differences in the areas that are in focus. Yet another software program is used to combine the most focused areas of each photograph in the stack into a single, well‐focused photographic image. Each final image, made up of hundreds or sometimes thousands of meticulously captured photographs, has the detail necessary for making large format prints.

Limited edition prints are made on archival quality matte paper, giving the photographs the feel of a lithographic print or a watercolor painting.

Equipment Used

  •   Canon 7D Mark II Digital SLR

  •   Olympus BH‐2 Compound Microscope with trinocular tube

  •   Prepared slides of various botanical specimens

  •   Focus stacking (Zerene Stacker) and image stitching (PTGui) software for compositing


"Polytrichum" Anteridial Head (longitudinal section) common name: Haircap Moss, magnification: 16X, composite of 275 images, aspect ratio: (w:h) 0.639:1
William Scully, 2019 from the series 'Microbotanicals'