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Photo essay: An up close look at LI's small wonders

The pollen of an aster bloom in Bellmore

The pollen of an aster bloom in Bellmore makes a fine stop for a bee. (Sept. 18, 2013.) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Look closer.

I have always been fascinated with the unseen. As a photographer it's my job to observe, to see the things most people overlook or take for granted. It is by doing this that I've realized there are often extraordinary things hidden within the ordinary.

Entire alien landscapes amid the petals of flowers.

Strange forests within blades of grass.

Great beasts from tiny insects.

I used a specialized Nikkor Micro lens, which allows the photographer to focus within inches of a subject and isolate the tiny details that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Most of the images were shot near the front door of my Centereach home. The mushrooms graced the lawn at Newsday's main office in Melville. I don't know what variety they are, but I was fascinated by one that appeared to me like a small planet, complete with continents and oceans.

I can't say the same about the insects I photographed -- "must love bugs" is not me. I actually don't like them and run like a 6-year-old at the sight of them, especially spiders.

The praying mantis and I met one morning as I left the house. It was above my head, climbing over the front-door frame. It hung around for a good part of the day and I visited several times with my camera. At one point it saw its reflection in the glass of my lens. I noticed it started to sway back and forth, staring right at me through the lens. And then, without warning, it leaped almost a foot from my house onto my camera. Not knowing what to do, I carefully put the camera on the ground and waited for the mantis to finish its business.

The raindrop photo was taken on a cutleaf Japanese maple tree in my front yard. The raindrop actually works kind of like a fisheye lens, but it refracts the image so that it appears inverted.

It was my goal to bring these things into better focus, and show that there is a world within the world, all around us. We just need to look closer.

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