Thursday 22 January 2009

From the archives - Fungi

I thought I would share some 'out of season images with you all this week. The Autumn is one of the great seasons for wildlife photographers with fabulous golden light of late afternoons and early mornings, lots of bird migration and for those of us who like some close up work then there are the opportunities for fungi as well.

The 2006 'season' was fantastic with a bumper year that seemed to last for ages, whereas the last two years have been pretty challenging. I am fortunate in that I have a great wood near me with varied coniferous and deciduous habitat.

Fungi compared to other wildlife subjects are actually really easy if you think about it, as they are not going to get up and run away from you, so you as the photographer have the opportunity to control everything. The most difficult part is finding your subjects, but once you have then the results are all down to you.

I took this just over two years ago with my old Canon 1Dmk2N and 100mmf2.8 macro. I have shown a phone pic I took of the set up, using a couple of reflectors and a diffuser to hold back the strong sunlight. Tripod mounted, of course with remote release and manually focussed as all of my fungi shots are.

The latest 'Live View' facilities on the current breed of Canon and Nikon cameras has transformed macro photography for me now. I use the Live View, in conjunction with the histogram information to verify the exposure using M Mode, and then zoom in with the 5X magnification, depress the DOF preview button and then scroll around the main part of the subject to ensure that the subject has exactly the right components sharp. This technique really has taken out a lot of inaccuracies associated with looking through the viewfinder, particularly if the camera is at ground level.

I have only found one drawback using this technique and that is battery life. Using the screen does drain the battery much faster than conventional shooting as you would expect. That said, current battery life on the 1D mk3 is excellent and I am sure it is also on the latest Nikon offerings too.

When setting out to find fungi, early damp mornings have proven to be the most successful although you will have to watch out for the dog walkers, and make sure that you don't scare them if you suddenly get up as they are approaching you, unless you have a warped sense of humour. Another consideration is to make sure that you have permission to access the land you are photographing on.

There are some great resources on the 'net, one of the better ones is Roger's Mushrooms. I have had species confirmed by Roger Phillips - a really helpful guy. I can also thoroughly recommend his great book - see ad below.

This family group of Mycena was takenwith my old Canon 5D and 100mmf2.8 macro.

And finally, this was taken in the October last year, using the 1Dmk3, using the Live View technique. The species is Armilleria Ostoyae or Brown Honey Fungus, and was the species that Roger helped to confirm.

So something a little different from our blogs to date. Many thanks to those who have commented and continue to support the blog. If there are any subjects you want to see covered, then give us a shout on here


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