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My Approach To Fungi Photography

This weekend I wasn't in the mood to travel far, with a busy Saturday I could have easily stayed at home. Having kicked myself out of the house I went to Hoe Rough nature reserve, about a 30 minute car journey.

This nature reserve is quickly becoming a regular spot for me with such a wide variety of nature to photograph, butterflies in the spring and summer. This time of year fungi is theme of choice. 

Clouded Funnel Fungi

In this image I tried out off camera flash with no focus stacking.

I found a group of what I have identified as Clouded Funnel or Clitocybe Nebularis. If I have the identification incorrect please let me know on twitter @nealtraf. Usually I prepare fungi and surrounding area to remove distractions and in this case making the subject accessible. I carry a pair of secateurs that fold up like a swiss army knife, this is an essential tool to carry if you are doing any nature photography. Another tool is a rocket blower, the intended use is to clean dust from the camera sensor. Works well with removing loose dirt from fragile fungi. 

Unsure what this white fury stuff was, unlike any fungi I have seen. Turns out to be Eriosomatinae 

Cutting away the surrounding thorney growth I was able to place the camera onto my homemade beanbag. I do carry a Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod where the central column and legs can be altered, as fungi mostly grow from the ground I often use the beanbag as it is far easier to use than setting up the tripod, the only downside is the weight.

When taking any pictures it's just as important to look around the edges of the picture to make sure nothing behind is creating a distraction. I try and remove anything that has lines, this could be branches, twigs or even a blade of grass. Also bright spots, in the below slideshow between two images that I photographed, to demonstrate how I setup the scene to highlight the importance of looking for distracting objects. 

If you look at the top left you can see bright spots caused by the sky breaking through leaves. Either change the angle of the camera to cut out the bright spots or spot removal/clone tool in post production. It's a lot easier to take the image correctly in camera than than to fix faults in post production, something that takes a couple of extra minutes out in the field can save hours in Photoshop. 

On future fungi forays I intent to find subjects that can be converted into black and white, defined edges, shapes and tones are what I intent to focus on. To me snapshot of fungi are not all that interesting, they need to have an artistic element.

Dersingham Bog Fungi

Dersingham bog, for me is one of the best places in Norfolk to visit. There is a vantage point that overlooks the nature reserve that is stunning, I took a sunrise a couple of months ago. The only downside is the lack of parking. I bumped into another local camera club on a workshop, with the amount of cars I had to park on the verge. 

Just before the sunrises from behind the hill, Using HDR to achieve a good exposure.

Fungi is still very much in mind with it still being autumn. When I first visited Dersingham Bog last year with the camera club there was a wide variety of fungi fruiting. This time I was unable to find as many specimens, can only presume that there has been less rain so far making the environment damp enough. 

Over the last few fungi forays I have been using focus stacking technique to get the fungi and foreground in focus which is impossible to achieve with a single image. Although this method requires heavily editing to fix the defects caused by the focus stacking, the results I have been achieving easily justifies the time and effort. A single image can take 30 minutes to find, prepare and photograph the "stack" and then up to a further two hours in post production. 

I shall return to Dersingham Bog before the autumn finishes to find more fungi to photograph. One image that I have in my head is a puffball fungi releasing its spores, black and white. I need to figure out how to release the spores and then photograph without getting a stick in the shot, a flash would most likely be required. 

Smelly Fungi at Hoe Rough

This last Sunday I managed to visit Hoe Rough, a nature reserve owned and managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. If only for a few hours. Hoe Rough is located outside of Dereham. I discovered this location only a few months ago when looking for places to find Butterflies.  

Hoe Roughin summer, open heath, small band of woodland around the edge

Being the start of October I was under the assumption there would be more varieties abundance of fungi, that didn't appear to be the case here.  That said I found a couple that were worth photographing, A Stinkhorn, as the name suggests there is an odd smell when you get close to them, unlike anything I have seen before which reminds me how interesting fungi can be and why I enjoy photographing them. 

Another is what I think is a Orange Grisette, I took one of these a few weeks ago that was younger, this time the top was covered in the small leaves that added texture. 

I hope to see many more fungi over the next few weeks as the autumn progresses.