The wet and mild conditions of Autumn provide the perfect growing conditions for fungi and this exceptionally mild Autumn means that there’s lots around at the moment, without having to look too hard. They have their own kingdom completely separate to plants and animals and there are tens of thousands of different kinds. They are fascinating to look at and to photograph. Here’s a few tips on how to photograph fungi:
Get down and dirty.
Although some fungi can look amazing from above, you need to get down at their level, especially if you want to get a soft focus background. I had dirty knees and a dirty elbow from photographing most of these.
Look for fungi which are not in direct sunlight.
Direct sunlight creates harsh contrasts of light and shadow. Use your own body to create shade if you can. Otherwise look for fungi that are facing towards the light if you can.
Switch your flash off and watch your shutter speed.
If you shoot on the AUTO setting, your flash will probably fire as it’s dark in forests and in the shade of trees and tree stumps, which will make your shutter speed slower than out in the open. Set your camera on the Aperture Priority mode (Av or A) and use a big aperture (low f number like f/2.8 or lower). Your shutter speed will need to be 1/125th of a second at least. If it’s lower you should increase the ISO. See this post on the Exposure Triangle if you’re not familiar with these settings.
Blur the background to reduce distractions.
Many fungi grow amongst grass, branches and leaves and the shot can look a bit messy. Using a large aperture and shooting close up will blur the background and make the fungus stand out more. Most of these shots were taken with an aperture of f/2.0 or lower. Not all lenses will allow this. I used a fixed Canon 50mm f/1.4 for the shots below. A macro lens would be great for these shots too.
Don’t always look for perfect fungi, with no broken edges. It’s more about the right light, interesting textures, shapes, colours and contrasts.
Use something to show scale.
Blades of grass, leaves or even hands will show the relative size of the fungi. But remember that some are extremely poisonous and if you’re not sure, don’t touch it! There are guided walks available and these are great, as you’ll find much more than if you venture out on your own and you’ll learn so much too. I can highly recommend Fungal Punk who does guided walks in Cheshire and North Wales.
Check out the previous 3 instalments:
I run courses and offer one to one tuition to beginners and improvers, so if you’d like help getting to grips with your camera and live within sensible distance of Cheshire, then click on the links and take a look.
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