I am a mushroom hunter with the camera. When ever I roam our local forests I have my phone camera with me being prepared to take pictures of mushrooms I might see. I do not hunt for edible mushrooms. This is something for experienced and brave people. I just enjoy their looks. All pictures here have been taken with an Iphone 3GS and the Hipstamatic application and I will give some tips for taking mushroom photographs based on my experiences.
Wet belly shooting with the Iphone
One of the advantages of the Iphone is the easy handling that allows to take photographs from unusual positions without much effort.
1. Get your camera into a unique position
I try to get down to ground level to depict mushrooms with all features. There you will meet dirt, mud and moisture quite often. Therefore to protect the phone with a water-resistant case is a good idea. I use a fabric Phone cover as support and separation from the soil.
I work in different positions: vertical AND horizontal to get the best perspective. For extreme low shots you can get the phone camera lens very close to ground level.
The Hipstamatic app that I use mostly allows to open a big size viewer that functions also as shutter release so to speak. Keep one finger in touch with the viewer window until you have placed your Iphone in the best position. Lift your finger and the picture will be taken. That way you can reduce camera shake a lot. I have taken numerous one hand shots that way from angles that would have been impossible with a standard DSLR camera.
After the shot check whether the picture is OK and take some extra ones. At home with a bigger screen you might find a number of slightly blurry or out of focus shots.
2. Control of lighting and background
Once I find an interesting mushroom I explore the subject entirely. I investigate all points of view that I can reach with my Iphone. This way I find the best positions as to light and background. I try to avoid distracting backgrounds and seek to control the light conditions. My Iphone 3GS cannot handle strong contrast very well. Sometimes light areas are bleached out. By tilting the phone slightly the I try to find out in which position I get the best result.
3. Check proper focus
It can be difficult to get a close subject in proper focus. By tilting the camera slightly one can correct distortions, optimize the composition and adjust the automatic focus of the camera on your spot of interest: stem or hat of the mushroom. However there is a lot of trial and error necessary if you want to get as near as possible.
Sometimes I have to use the palm of my free hand to get the camera focusing on the near subject as the auto focus tends to focus on backgrounds rather than the mushroom in specific situations. I hold the hand parallel to the mushroom to enlarge the subject size for the auto focus. As soon as the auto focus has settled on my hand I remove the hand and release the shutter.
4. Chose your favourite lens and film
I have tested various lens and film combinations of the Hipstamatic app and have settled for the time being with the Helga lens and the film Ina’s 1935. The colors are a bit enhanced and the film provides nice light effects for example when shooting in counter light.
There are lots of Bay boletes varieties (Boletus badius), in our forests. Meantime professional mushroom hunters come and harvest big quantities, which is against the law in our country. Also those people pull out the full plant instead of cutting the mushrooms near to the soil to protect the mushroom mycelum in the soil. When you pull out the whole body with the mycelium the next year there will be no mushrooms at that place.
Most of the mushroom I find and photograph are living on woody debris. Those mushrooms help to break down organic matter to make it available again for the next life cycle in nature.
Mainly in October and November the visible fruit bodies of fungi on woody debris develop very quickly under wet conditions in our woods. Often big groups of mushrooms emerge within a short period of time and cover big trunks. I have a vast collection of images because I cannot withstand the beauty of these little gems. The majority are very common species, but I am not expert enough to identify all of them. As soon as frost and snow come they disappear until next year.
From top left to bottom right:
1. Don’t know
2. Pholiota aurivella
3. bleeding fairy helmet, Mycena maematopus
4. Oudemansiella mucida
5. Common puff ball,Lycoperdon perlatum
6. Don’t know
7. Oudemansiella mucida
8. Don’t know
9.Yellow brain, Tremella mesenterica
1. Shaggy ink cap,Coprinus comatus
2. Bleeding fairy helmet, Mycena haematopus
3. Velvet foot ,Flammulina velutipes
4. Fly amantia, Amanita muscaria
5. Velvet foot ,Flammulina velutipes
6. Frozen and unknown
7. Sheathed woodtuft, Kuehneromyces mutabili
9. shaggy ink cap, coprinus comatus
The kingdom of fungi is fascinating. Mykology , the science that studies fungi, is usually associated with botany even though fungi have more in common with the kingdom of animals than with plants. The kingdom of fungi comprises mushrooms and yeasts, slime molds, rusts and several other types of related organisms. The cell walls of fungi are made of chitin instead of cellulose.
A fungus, Armillaria ostoyae, is said to be one of the largest organism with a size of six square kilometers and an age of 400-1000 years found in the US state of Washington.
This link list contains resources on the net about mushrooms.
How mushrooms grow | Mushroom Palace
Mushroom Palace is a website by Belgian graphic design student Toon Van Kets. He got into mushroom cultivation when he decided to study fungi as part of his science paper in 2010.See there a graphic with the life cycle of a typical mushrom
Mushroom observer Org Mushroom observer org is an amazing web community that collects and publishes their mushroom observations. A great place to learn about mushrooms and where they can be found
Rogers mushroomsRogers mushrooms is part of rogersplants.com .The site is based on more than 25 years work by Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix, the authors of more than 30 illustrated guides to the whole plant flora.That site can help to identify mushrooms.
Edible Wild Mushrooms, Photos, Identification, Descriptions – David Fischer’s AmericanMushrooms.comDavid Fischer’s AmericanMushrooms.com – information about and photos of edible wild mushrooms, mushroom identification, poisonous mushrooms, and toxic mushrooms.
A professional wWebsite to identify mushrooms
MykoWeb: Mushrooms, Fungi, MycologyMykoWeb — information on mushrooms and other fungi, edible mushrooms, poisonous mushrooms, mycophagy, and mycology primarily for the amateur. Includes descriptions, photographs, recipes, and more.
I suppose this is another Oudemansiella. Oudemansiella mucida grows on dead or damaged beech trees. The mycelium grows underneath the bark and the bodies emerge were the bark is broken. This picture was taken under moist conditions. The rain drops make the cap of the mushroom shiny.
Little mushrooms in special,artificial light
Some of these images were taken at dusk with the help of a big LED light held by my nephews. Meantime I like to carry a small light with me that I can hold in my mouth to have my hands free for the camera.
1. Bleeding fairy helmet, Mycena haematopus
2. This image was taken with the help of a big LED light
3. Fly amantia, Amanita muscaria
5. In this image the LEd light was used and my nephew Florian added some fog by breathing into the light to create more drama :).
7. Boletus badius – Bay bolete
8. Oudemansiella mucida
The parasol mushroom is an impressive fungi. The white cap is easy to see from a long distance. On this one some snails already had their meal.In Europe we are happy that there is no poisonous “false parasol” growing. In the US the false parasol is said to be causing the most poisonings of all species.