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.