Extreme Macro Photos Unveil the Hidden World of Fungi in the Forest

Mushrooms on a Log

For photographer Alison Pollack, strolling through the forest is more than a relaxing pastime. Thanks to her fascination with fungi and Myxomycetes, it's become her open-air photography studio as she cranes her neck to find her next miniature subject. Through focus stacking and macro photography, Pollack captures artistic images of her subjects—which often measure just 1 or 2 millimeters tall. The results are breathtaking photographs that explore the world of mushrooms and slime molds that are rarely seen.

Drawn to the diversity of mushrooms and myxomycetes, Pollack spends time in the forest searching for new species to capture. As she walks slowly, Pollack keeps an eye out for pops of color. Once she spots her desired subject, she uses a magnifying glass to take a closer look and then gets to work.

“The smaller the subjects are, the more appealing they are to me, and the more difficult they are to photograph,” Pollack tells My Modern Met. “For the really tiny ones, 1 to 2 millimeters tall and even smaller, I use an extreme macro lens, which has five times more magnification than a standard macro lens. This lens is challenging to use, but with practice and patience one can get highly detailed photos that never cease to fascinate.”

To work through this type of extreme macro photography, Pollack takes a series of photographs from different angles and then uses software to put together a crisp, detailed image by stacking different images. At times, this can require anywhere from 100 to 300 photographs, but the end result is well worth it. In Pollack's photographs, these miniature treasures look like giants of the forest. With such rich detail, viewers are able to take in the incredible color and texture of organisms they may not have known existed.

In fact, for Pollack part of the satisfaction that she takes in her work is her ability to expose the magic of the forest to others. “I want people to see how amazing and beautiful these tiny organisms are! Many people have never heard of Myxomycetes, and also do not know that there are so many beautiful tiny fungi. My goal is to photograph them to show people the detailed beauty right at their feet as they walk in the forest.”

Pollack continues to push herself technically and creatively. She has even begun traveling to explore different environments like Alaska and Colombia to document new species. By exploring the diversity of this largely unknown world, she's helping educate others and encouraging them to take a deeper look at the world around them, as often the smallest beings possess the biggest personalities.

Alison Pollack loves taking artistic photos of fungi and Myxomycetes.

Close Up Photos of Mushrooms

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

Many of her subjects are just one or two millimeters tall and require extreme macro photography to be captured properly.

Slime Mold Photo by Alison Pollack

Macro Photo of a Mushroom

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

“There is a magical world at your feet when you walk in a wet forest!”

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

Close Up Mushroom Photo

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

“Stop and look closely and you can see amazing and diverse beauty.”

Artistic Photograph of Mushrooms on a Log

Nature Photography by Alison Pollack

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

Fungi and Myxomycetes Photos by Alison Pollack

Alison Pollack: Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Alison Pollack.

Related Articles:

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“Mushroom Ninja” Explores the Beautiful World of Exotic Fungi on His Hikes

Rare Mushroom Photos Reveal the Visual Diversity of Fungi

Mystical Photos of Mushrooms Casting an Enchanting Glow

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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