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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.

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