Monday, October 15, 2012

A Fun time with fungis

I have always really like fungus and mushrooms.  When I was a Boy Scout and did a lot of hiking, tree fungi were one of the few things that I learned to identify (not that I remember anything besides Chicken of the Forest).  There is something about their colors and sudden appearance that attracts me.  I have often tried taking pictures but usually without much success.  Sure, once in a while something good will come out of my attempt but most of the time they end up blah.

A few weeks ago my wife and I were at the local botanical gardens and there was a photo show of mushrooms.  Again, only one or two really stood out as good photographs.  And there are some good photographers in that group.  As we talked about it we came up with a couple of reasons why it is so hard to get beautiful photographs of fungus.

First, while they can be striking, they are usually not the most attractive of subjects.  That immediately puts the photography in a tough situation.  You have to turn something kind of ugly, or real ugly in some cases, into something people would enjoy viewing.

Second, mushrooms usually grow in deep under stories where the light isn't good.  OK, where the light sucks.  And a lot of mushrooms don't stand out all that much from their surroundings.

And finally, they are really low to the ground.  It is hard to get that low and then not have leaves, grass, twigs, etc. get into distracting positions.

But, when you do get a good shot, it can really be something.  So here are a few of my favorites.

In this case I took advantage of all of the similar colors, placed the mushroom over in the corner and avoided distractions of trying to separate the mushroom from the leave litter.

In this case I was able to get quite close with a macro set-up (extension tube and lens) and just focus on the ribs. This again removed any distractions sticking up in the background.  I think the shallow depth of field really focuses the attention on the mushroom.

For this one I moved a few of the fallen twigs that were poking up.  The mushroom is on a rise from the trail so I could get down to it's level with my tripod. And I like the repeated slope of the mushroom cap and the moss behind it.

This one helped out by lifting the distracting element and made it an intricate part of the image.  The little sprig of grass is beside the mushroom so it adds a sense of scale instead of being distracting.  The the humor of the mushroom lifting the twig offsets any other technical problems.

And finally, my all-time favorite mushroom picture. My wife and I saw this while hiking in the Shenandoah Mountains last year. These mushrooms were growing out of the side of a bank at about waist level.  Easy to get to there level   My wife let me borrow her macro lens so I could get in really close.  they are probably no more than 1/4 inch tall.

Check out the other bloggers at Macro Monday and Our World Tuesday.


  1. Beautiful captures of mushrooms. I agree on how rare it is to have good captures of fungus and mushrooms.

  2. Wonderful mushroom images. I find there are few opportunities to get photos of mushrooms where I live. They sometimes appear after a lot of rain but they don't seem to last long.

  3. These are beautiful images - they look like little floating magical umbrellas! And such a vivid orange colour!

  4. Mushrooms are so fanciful. I love their quirky shapes and textures. That last image is especially striking.

  5. mushrooms are great subjects...they have a whimsy feel. the last photo is my favorite.

  6. That last shot is superb!