A Likeness of Lichen: Photographing and Appreciating Tiny Organisms

The rocks along the Mesa Trail in Boulder, Colorado are covered in the most incredibly colorful and uniquely shaped lichen.

The rocks along the Mesa Trail in Boulder, Colorado are covered in the most incredibly colorful and uniquely shaped lichen. All you have to do is stop and stoop down to them. This shows the bright yellow crustose lichen, Pleopsidium spp. © Haley R. Pope (TerraLens Photography LLC).

Dewdrops quivered under my breath as I knelt down, my face but a couple inches away. Like sapphires, emeralds, and canary diamond they glistened, reflecting the vibrant organisms beneath. Like tiny, round mirrors, or tiny magnifying glasses, each micro detail was brought to prominence. Upon closer inspection, even my face, upside down, reflected back at me in as many copies as there were dewdrops. They jiggled and jostled, yet resisted the force of my breath and persisted in perfect cupola-shapes held together by cohesion.

As mesmerizing as the water drops were, I was here to photograph what lay beneath the transparent molecules. I drew a breath and blew. The water bubbles rolled away and revealed my intended subject. Tortuous as brain tissue, crusty as a scab, yet as significant as any other organism: lichen.

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Unveiling the Danube Delta

Great white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) take flight over the blue waters of the Danube Delta in Romania, where many of them breed during their migrations. A pelican’s wingspan can stretch up to 12 feet across, so they are a sight to see close up! For this shot, I took a 12-hour long-boat tour in order to explore the smaller channels of the Delta. It is here where the Danube river meets the Black Sea. © Haley Pope

Story and Photographs by Haley R. Pope | TerraLens Photography, LLC

 

It is the largest wetland, the second largest river delta, and the best preserved in Europe, I was told. It’s an intricate pastel mosaic of winding river channels, floating reed islets, never-ending blue skies, migrant nesting birds, diminutive spotted frogs, and schools of fish, I was told. A pristine haven for wildlife lovers, birdwatchers, and fishermen and a sight to behold as the river flows through ten countries and finally joins the Black Sea. They were talking about the Danube Delta, a UNESCO world heritage site that covers parts of Romania and Ukraine.

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