When you’re walking down the forest, chances are you’ll see mushrooms with their brown hats, green moss that looks inviting to lay your head on, maybe even a deer running by. But there is a whole hidden tiny world that the human eye cannot see that easily and that world is truly mesmerizing to look at.
Meet Alison Pollack – a photographer for whom a stroll in a forest is more than just a way to relax and unwind. As Alison has a deep fascination with fungi and Myxomycetes, the subjects that she captures are sometimes as tiny as one or two millimeters. This results in breathtaking photographs, which reveal the macro world of our forests. Scroll down below to see the amazing pictures and interview with the photographer.
More info: Instagram
For Alison, nature was always something she was fascinated with. She was interested in macro photography for many years, but her love for capturing the miniature fungi and myxomycetes came around about a couple of years ago. “I didn’t get serious about it until a couple of years ago when I found and photographed my first Myxomycete. I had no idea what it was, so I looked it up online. I was immediately fascinated with the Myxomycete life cycle, and I have been avidly hunting and photographing them since then. As I looked for the tiny Myxos, I also started noticing really tiny fungi and started photographing and learning about them as well. These tiny organisms are all over the forest when it rains, but they are so small that people just don’t see them. My goal is to reveal their beauty and magic!” Alison told Bored Panda.
The photographer told us that what excites her the most about mushrooms and Myxomycetes is their amazing diversity in color, shape, size, texture – everything, really. “I am especially drawn to the tiny ones and the detail that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Many people have never heard of Myxomycetes, and also do not know that there are so many beautiful tiny fungi. My passion is to photograph them to show people the amazing beauty right at their feet as they walk in the forest,” Alison told us.
Trichia Decipiens (Giacomini Preserve)
“Myxomycetes used to be considered part of the Kingdom of Fungi. They have characteristics of both fungi and amoebas and are now being placed in the Kingdom called Protista. Most of them are only 1-2 millimeters, much smaller than typical macro images. The common name for Myxomycetes is slime molds, but that isn’t a very appealing name!”
To capture these tiny living creatures of the forest, Alison uses macro and extreme macro lenses. Naturally, the smaller the subject is, the more challenging is to capture it, but, as the photographer explains, she loves the technical challenge. “When photographing such tiny subjects, the depth of field is extremely small, sometimes only one-hundredths of a millimeter. I use a technique called focus stacking, in which I take many multiple images at different focus distances and combine them to give a resulting photo with sharp detail from front to back. For the smallest of subjects, less than one millimeter tall, I typically take 200-300 images and combine them to create a single photo,” the talented photographer revealed to Bored Panda.
Simocybe (Pumpkin Trail)
Physarum Viride (Mission Springs)
Alison says that during the months of the rainy season in Northern California, she goes to the woods several days a week and spends the majority of the day there. “I look for dots of color on the forest floor and on decomposing logs, then I look more closely with an LED-lit 10x magnifying lens I always carry with me. If I find a good decomposing log, I can be there for hours, looking at many places in the log to find and photograph these treasures of the forest, as I like to call them,” she says. “I take a lot of time to compose and take my photographs. I spend quite a bit of time cleaning my subjects with very small paintbrushes and surgical tweezers, as I want people to see their beauty. Composition is important, so I look for what I think is the best angle that shows off their beauty and details,” Alison adds.
The photographer just came back from Peru where she also photographed tiny creatures of the woods. She has also photographed mushrooms and myxomycetes in Colombia. ” I love to travel and would love to have the opportunity to go to other countries to photograph their mushrooms and Myxomycetes,” Alison told us. “I live in Northern California, near San Francisco, where there are many beautiful forests. I have photographed mushrooms and myxos in several other states; Oregon, Washington, and Alaska in particular have wonderful old forests full of forest treasures.”
Stemonitis (Point Reyes)
Badhamia Utricularis (Roys Redwoods)
“I am retired, so I have the time to do my photography hobby. It feels like a full time job because I spend so much time doing it, but I thoroughly enjoy it. Most of my photos take many hours of work to create, and I love the amount of detail that I am able to reveal in these tiny mushrooms and myxos. I am a mathematician by training, and I did a lot of computer modeling in my work, so that background has helped me with the large amount of digital processing that I do.”
Willkommlangea Reticulata (Fairbanks)
Dacryopinax Elegans (Colombia)
Alison says that she is constantly seeking to perfect her photography, both technically as well as artistically. “I am considering getting a 10x microscope objective that I can use with my camera to be able to photograph even smaller subjects with greater detail. I want to visit more areas, both near and far, to find different species to photograph and share with people.” To see more of Alison’s amazing work, head on to her Instagram page!