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How One Photographer Captures the Tiniest Details in the Desert

“I tend to focus very closely on a lot of obscure things,” says photographer Eirini Pajak. 

This 1-centimeter-wide swatch of rarely noticed cryptobiotic crust on the desert floor near Florence, Arizona, is made up of moss, lichen, bacteria and fungi. After rain, the dark, lumpy surface springs to life in areas where water is retained, such as washes. 

Captured with a Canon MPE-65 macro lens, this composite of more than 80 digitally merged images was created using a technique called focus stacking. “I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to this stuff,” says Pajak, who hopes her imagery will help foster appreciation and respect for the Southwest landscape’s natural splendor. “I’ve lived in a lot of beautiful places all over the world, but I love the Sonoran Desert,” she says. “I can just go walking and find an entirely different world up close. It’s exciting to explore something that people are not paying attention to on a minute level. It kind of feels like a new frontier.”

Cryptobiotic Crust 8 by Eirini Pajak

Cryptobiotic Crust 8 by Eirini Pajak


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