Chiswick wildlife photographer featured in National Geographic

Image above: Andy Sands showing off his article in National Geographic

The beauty of slime molds

Andy Sands, naturalist, wildlife photographer and owner of the Chiswick Camera Shop, has had his work recognised by National Geographic magazine.

Andy has had an interest in the natural world since childhood and is a keen wildlife photographer. His work has been published in many magazines and wildlife books and on calendars and cards, but National Geographic is the epitome of recognition for a wildlife photographer.

The seven-page spread in May’s edition featured not polar bears on diminishing ice floes or rutting deer in Richmond Park but something far more unusual and specialist: slime molds.

Slime molds, for the uninitiated, are neither animal, vegetable nor fungus, but protozoa which spend most of their lives as single cell structures.

Why photograph them? “They are very attractive looking structures” says Andy, who finds them fascinating.

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

More to the point, how does one photograph them, since most are only about a millimetre tall?

“It’s only very recently that modern camera development has made it possible to photograph them. It takes quite specialist macro lenses.”

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

They have been his passion for the past couple of years.

“You find them in the same place as fungi and you have to look at them 1000 x resolution under a microscope. There are over 1,000 named species. I have some very specialist and expensive books I look them up in to identify them.”

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

What function does a slime mold (though not really a mould at all) have? Quite an important one, it turns out. In their single cell form they feed on bacteria and aid decomposition.

Meanwhile they are just strangely beautiful. To read the National Geographic article you need to subscribe, but those who don’t mind paying to read it can find it here: National Geographic, Andy Sands feature

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

Andy’s talk on wildlife photography, Wednesday 28 June

Andy has photographed all sorts of wildlife from slime molds to rutting deer, with every sort of British small mammal, bird and insect along the way. He will be talking about wildlife photography at Christ Church, Turnham Green on Wednesday 28 June at 7pm. The event is free, but to ensure entry please register at events@wildchiswick.com.

Image above: Slime mold; Andy Sands

WildChiswick photography competition

Andy is judging the WildChiswick photography competition, which runs until 13 August 2023. A new competition, run for the first time this year, entry is free and there are six categories: mammals, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and plants, as well as a children’s section for ages 16 and under.

“Chiswick has so many lovely green spaces where we can all enjoy nature” says organiser Joanne Gilbert.

“We thought it would be a great idea to have people share their sightings with us and the rest of Chiswick.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar