Ask any landscape/nature photographer what is their favourite time of year and many will say Autumn. It’s not hard to see why when you look around and feast your eyes on the amazing array of colours, shades and hues.
But it’s not just the tree canopies that put on a display. Look down when walking through the woods and you can easily find some of the 15000 varieties of fungi that grow in the UK. Now, I’m no mycologist, but I have learned a bit more about these micro environments just by photographing them in recent weeks. Fungus photos fill Facebook and other social media at the moment, and there are lots of really good images there, but you can make yours stand out from the crowd by following these handy tips. These can also be applied to photographing other things as well as fungi, and you don’t always need specialist equipment. While many of us use dedicated macro lenses, extension tubes and reversing rings, you can still get great shots with a standard lens.
So, here are my top 5 tips to help you along the way,
1. Get low
Not all mushrooms grow low down. They are often found higher up on some tree trunks, and you can’t always get close to them without stilts!
So, go low. Or at least try to get on a level with them for the best angles. But be careful! As you can see, I had to squeeze into a tight space here, and I forgot there was a branch above my head!
2. Use a reflector
Reflectors are used in several genres of photography, notably portraiture, to bounce light back onto the face. They are also used in product and even landscape photography. You don’t need to splash out on them though. Here I used the lid of a take away container. It’s just a piece of white card with silver on the other side. I used this to bounce light back onto the mushrooms in this shot.
Without reflector With reflector How it was done
3. Remove glare and reflections.
This sounds like the complete opposite of the previous tip, and in a way it is, but not exactly! Mushrooms and leaves have reflective surfaces, and depending on the light in your scene they may lose some detail due to the glare. You can reduce this effect by using a circular polarizer filter screwed to the front of your lens. These are available from around £10, and are a fabulous addition to your kit if you want to capture the rich, warm tones of Autumn. The first picture below is without the polarizer and the second is with it. There is only a subtle difference, but it works for me.
4. Light up the scene
You’ll often find your fungi in a dark, shady area, and it is sometimes necessary to shed some light onto the scene, or perhaps try lighting some mushrooms from behind. You can use the torch on your phone, or even better, carry a head torch.
5. Don’t move!
Being in woodland means the ground can be soft and spongey, and often boggy. If you have set up with a tripod and your shutter speed is a long one, the last thing you want to do is move your feet during the exposure! Keep still while the shutter is open to ensure you get a nice sharp shot.
So, those are my five top tips for fungi photography which can also be applied in other situations. I hope you found this helpful. Feel free to comment with your own tips or questions either on here or on the social media platform where this blog appears.
Have fun, guys. (Couldn’t avoid that pun, but honestly, I tried)!