Slime molds/protists. Slideshow

I only "discovered" these stunningly beautiful and tiny organisms (1mm-4mm is typical) in 2018. They look like fungi but are off in an evolutionary corner with an alternative lifestyle that's too complicated to explain here and which I don't fully understand.

Wikipedia defines slime mold as "unrelated eukaryotic organisms that can live freely as single cells, but can aggregate together to form multicellular reproductive structures." Good enough.

Look for slime molds on the sides of rotting logs, in leaf litter, among mosses, and in similar damp, poorly lit areas. I find them in both tropical and temperate areas. Individually, these tiny organisms may only be 2 or 3mm tall, but a mass of a single species can be much larger — inches or even feet in width.

I often spot one species and, on closer examination, find several others nearby. It should be easier to photograph a slime mold than an insect due to its lack of wings. But slime molds are so small I need to add extension tubes or a Raynox 250 to my Zuiko 60mm. The result is an exceptionally shallow DoF (translated: a very thin area that is in sharp focus), and it is difficult to maintain focus on critical elements and compose a coherent picture.

I have friends who use multiple exposures to photograph these tiny subjects and then "stack" the images with great success. I prefer to use a single exposure.

It is not unusual to find tiny beetles, aphids, or larva feeding on slime mold, and there are a couple of shots among the 20 or so images on the right that feature tiny insects. I don't attempt to ID slime mold species — way too complicated.

Click the double arrow at the bottom right corner of the picture to launch the slideshow, then use the arrows on the left or right sides to move through it. 

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