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More Ministik mushrooms

A fresh Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushroom grows in late summer from the floor of the boreal forest.

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

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…)

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Composing with Live View for effect and convenience

Amanita mushroom from above

Amanita mushroom at Ministik Lake Sanctuary

Amanita mushroom

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.

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Mushrooms at Ministik

I took a great walk through Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary yesterday afternoon—always one of my favourite places to photograph (click here to see why). The weather we’ve had this year has been just right for growing mushrooms (warm days, lots of afternoon showers), and there was a fantastic selection of beautiful species on show. I’ll not write too much, just post a bunch of photos to inspire those of you who—like myself—have both photographic and mycological tendencies, to go out and find some fungi.

P.S. My mushroom ID skills are not terrible, but do not take my word that these are what I say they are. Instead, I’d recommend taking the word of Helene M.E. Schalkwijk-Barendsen in her gorgeous book Mushrooms of Northwest North America by local Edmonton publishing company, Lone Pine.

And, on that note, if you think I’ve gotten the ID wrong on any of these or you can be more specific (latin names would be great!) I would really appreciate a note left in the comments.

Oyster mushroom folds

Oyster mushroom folds

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.

A folio print of this image is for sale for whatever price you think is fair. Enter amount: $