Algae World: Phycological Research

Original drawings

drawings of Surirella angusta

From the earliest days of diatom research, specimens have been drawn, either by eye (freehand) or with the help of some kind of drawing aid that is attached to or part of the microscope. Today, drawings are less often made because digital photography is cheap and provides an arguably more objective record of what has been seen. Furthermore, one of the remaining advantages of drawing - combining information from many different planes into one or a few summary images - is now being eroded by our ability to capture image stacks and display them as video clips, or use programs that combine information from different planes to create a single in-focus image.

When I began my studies of diatoms in Bristol in the mid 1970s, I had no camera and all my observations were carried out using an old (early 20th century) Zeiss microscope with sledge objectives. I used a slightly younger microscope stand with a high resolution Leitz objective when I moved to Edinburgh in 1978, before changing to a Reichert Polyvar microscope in the early 1980s. Throughout the 'Zeiss' and 'Leitz' phases, I recorded information by drawing, using a camera lucida. After acquiring my Polyvar, I continued to draw, now using the drawing attachment of the Polyvar, as well as recording information on film.

In this section of Algae World I have deposited scans of some of my original drawings, as 'validation' of the smartened images subsequently published in papers

Drawings available (listed by taxon)

David Mann
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
June 2012