Fresh amanita mushroom
Almost exactly two years ago (less one day), I had the opportunity to photograph a tremendous diversity of mushrooms at Ministik (click here to view a gallery of images). Today, I went back to the same spot and, while the diversity was much lower than the previous year, there were some great mushrooms out—and I had a great time photographing a few of them. This is a very fresh, still growing “Fly Agaric” or “Fly Amanita” mushroom (Amanita muscaria). Beautiful to look at—and photograph—but don’t eat it!
me photographing mushroom
For most of the morning, I used my 50mm f/1.4 and flipped the centre column of my tripod upside down to make low-angled, shallow depth-of-field photographs of these mushrooms. I see mushrooms like this often while doing field work, but rarely have the time to take deliberate, careful photos of them. I’ll share a couple more from this morning in the next little while, so please come back again soon. (Here’s a quick photo of my hard at “work” this morning…)
Amanita mushroom from above
In my last post, I didn’t say much about the photographs themselves, as they were more documentary than artistic in nature, but perhaps one thing I’ll mention, as something for you to try out if you haven’t already, is that for the first time I used the “Live View” function on my DSLR to get down really low beside these mushrooms for an interesting perspective (e.g. the puffball, and the amanita).
Live View (i.e. framing the photo using the LCD on the back of the camera) has been common on point-and-shoot cameras for a long time, but is just being introduced on SLR cameras in the past few years. However, I still find myself using the optical viewfinder for everything except shooting video—just old fashioned I guess (although in my defence, I think the form factor of a DSLR does not lend itself to being held at arms’ length, especially with a longer lens attached). In this case though, by using the Live View, I could basically have the camera and lens on the ground, and still compose a decent image even though I was also carrying my daughter in a big backpack. You can see the difference in two photos above, the one on the left I made looking through the viewfinder while crouching as low as possible, and the one on the right is taken in the same posture, but using the LCD on the back of the camera to compose the image.
Using Live View (or whatever your camera’s maker calls it) for this type of otherwise awkward shot is definitely a trick that I will keep in mind for the future, and recommend to others for those moments where the unusual angle is tempting, but laying prostrate just isn’t.
Oyster mushroom folds
While sitting at the art sale this past weekend a good friend of mine dropped by and asked me to make her a print of this image. It has been a long time since I’d looked at this photograph, but I’m glad she asked because I’m really enjoying revisiting it. This was one of the largest Oyster mushroom clumps that I’ve ever come across. I was employed doing bird surveys near Calling Lake, AB in the summer of 2004, and it’s one of the best places I’ve been for photographing mushrooms (and black bears). I like how I was able to fill the frame with the folds and gills of this mushroom, emphasizing the organic shapes and colours. And it smelled absolutely terrific.