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Photographing Mushrooms

Updated on July 16, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia enjoys her cottage in the NH woods near a lake. It's a beautiful area that attracts weekenders and summer folk.

Source
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Mushrooms Are Fascinating Photo Subjects

A friend called me a "camera nut" and I guess you could say that I'm crazy about photography.

Several summers ago in New Hampshire, it was particularly rainy which restricted some of our usual activities of kayaking and other sunny day pursuits. Due to the excessive rain, conditions were perfect for mushrooms and they were popping up everywhere. There were all colors and sizes of mushrooms.

That's when I discovered I had a passion for mushrooms. Capturing these with my camera became my new summer hobby. I don't know all their names yet, but gradually I'm learning more about mushrooms, lichens and related fungi.

Photo by Virginia Allain

Wander Through the Woods to Find Mushrooms - Photo by Virginia Allain

These are certainly prolific. The log was covered with moss and these tiny mushrooms.
These are certainly prolific. The log was covered with moss and these tiny mushrooms. | Source

They usually like shade and soil that's rich in leaf mold or like the ones in this photo, they cluster on decaying wood.

Finding Names for the Mushrooms - guides available from Amazon

You can like mushrooms just for their looks, but I like to know their names and more about them. Here are guides for that. The one I'm recommending here is the National Audubon Field Guide. You can't go wrong with them.

There are many other reliable guides, so check out the ones at the public library. Decide which one suits you best and buy your own copy for home use.

An Unusual Mushroom (the coral mushroom)

An Unusual Mushroom (the coral mushroom)
An Unusual Mushroom (the coral mushroom) | Source

Caution - Use Care

Odd Puffball in New Hampshire

Odd Puffball in New Hampshire - Aren't these amazing! They have tiny pin-like bumps across the surface. Very strange looking.
Odd Puffball in New Hampshire - Aren't these amazing! They have tiny pin-like bumps across the surface. Very strange looking. | Source

I love photographing nature. I am out walking daily in the summer and love seeing mushrooms especially when they are attached to fallen logs. I love the smell of mushrooms especially when its damp and the leaves are on the ground.

Red Mushroom in New Hampshire

Red Mushroom in New Hampshire. I can almost picture a fairy sheltering under this like an umbrella in a rain storm.
Red Mushroom in New Hampshire. I can almost picture a fairy sheltering under this like an umbrella in a rain storm. | Source

Get Down Low to Take Pictures from More Angles

Mushroom Photo Series by V. Allain - Click on each photo to see it larger and read the caption

Daddy long legs spider on a mushroom
Daddy long legs spider on a mushroom | Source
Daddy long legs and the mushroom
Daddy long legs and the mushroom
Daddy long legs under the mushroom cap
Daddy long legs under the mushroom cap

Tuck a Plastic Grocery Bag into Your Pocket

If it rains, you can use it to shield your precious camera. Actually you might want a couple of these. They protect your knees from damp ground when you kneel to take a close shot.

The bags are handy if you bring home discoveries from your photo walk too like an interesting pinecone or a pretty rock.

More of My Mushroom Photos -

This one reminds me of a hamburger bun with sesame seeds on it.
This one reminds me of a hamburger bun with sesame seeds on it. | Source
This mushroom is like a ballerina.
This mushroom is like a ballerina.
Sometimes the mushroom has to push up through the litter on the forest floor.
Sometimes the mushroom has to push up through the litter on the forest floor.

Wow, Here's Someone Else Who's a Mushroom Photographer

This is a nice interview with this Canadian photographer talking about his passion for photographing mushrooms.

This Is the Camera I Used for All the Photos Shown Here

Canon PowerShot A550 7.1MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Zoom
Canon PowerShot A550 7.1MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Zoom
It's lightweight and small enough to slip into your pocket. That way you'll have it at hand whenever you see a mushroom to photograph. It does a fine job on macro photos. Just set it for close-ups (that's the icon of a flower). Recently I lost this camera and really miss it. My phone isn't as good for this. I'll have to order another one of these.
 

Do You Take Mushroom Photos?

Vote in the Poll

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A Demonstration of Taking Mushroom Photos

He recommends various equipment and demonstrates taking mushroom photos.

Photography Tips for Fungi

Gear to Help You Get Great Mushroom Photos

The tripod or the bean bag are great for steadying the camera. With macro photos, any little shakiness shows up.

You might want a photographer's vest if you carry much equipment with you on your photo walks. These have lots of pockets to hold lenses and other gear that you might need.

The Most Important Things for Taking Mushroom Photos

Get in close & keep the camera still.

An Overhead Shot Looking Straight Down

I love the texture on this mushroom. It almost sparkles as the light reflects of the little ridges.
I love the texture on this mushroom. It almost sparkles as the light reflects of the little ridges. | Source

Sometimes It's Too Shady for Good Photos

You don't want to use the flash if you can help it. That washes out the subject and gives it a flat look.

A Disc Reflector Is the Solution for Lighting Problems

Flashpoint 22" Circular Collapsible Disc Reflector, Soft Gold / White
Flashpoint 22" Circular Collapsible Disc Reflector, Soft Gold / White
These discs collapse for easy carrying. They reflect the light where you want to highlight a subject without using your flash.
 

Offset the Mushroom Slightly in the Photo

Photographers mentally divide the picture into a tic-tac-toe grid and place their subject at one of the places where the grid intersects. See how this one is in the upper right quadrant. The catches the eye better than if the mushroom was centered.
Photographers mentally divide the picture into a tic-tac-toe grid and place their subject at one of the places where the grid intersects. See how this one is in the upper right quadrant. The catches the eye better than if the mushroom was centered. | Source

How to Tote Your Photography Gear

Khaki Vest with Many Pockets

Humvee HMV-VC-K-XXL Combat Vest Khaki XX Large
Humvee HMV-VC-K-XXL Combat Vest Khaki XX Large
Just like the professional journalists and photographers, you can tote your extra batteries, mini-tripod and other gear in these great pockets. There's even room to tuck in a snack or a sandwich for long photography excursions. There's nothing more frustrating than to find a great subject that you want to capture with your camera and to find that your batteries are dead or you forgot to bring a crucial piece of equipment. Maybe you can return later but the lighting might not be right or you might not be able to find that spot again. With mushrooms, they change over a a day or two and won't look the same. Better catch one while you can.
 

Cluster of Mushrooms

Source

© 2010 Virginia Allain

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