Fungal Forays

Look what the leaf mulch was trying to hide... Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 6s, f/8, Benro Transformer.
Look what the leaf mulch was trying to hide… Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 6s, f/8, tripod.

Fungi: be they on your plate or on a tree stump, they play a role in our lives. I’ve always been fascinated by fungi and their diverse morphologies, from the vibrant red of a fly agaric to the flower-like elegance of the earth star. When I acquired my first macro lens in 2008, fungi figured highly on my list of subjects. Studying them more in-depth through my lens piqued my interest in the smaller things in the world. Photographing fungi, therefore, was a pivotal point in my path to microbiology.

Dead tree. Live fungi. Olympus OM-D, Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 1/5s, f/2.8.
Dead tree. Live fungi. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 1/5s, f/2.8, tripod.

Fungi crop up everywhere. The best place, I find, is woodland in autumn, usually in the shade after a bit of rainfall. Common hiding places are rotting tree trunks, stumps, the leaf mulch at the foot of larger trees, and the fringes of grassy clearings. As a subject, the diversity and individuality of fungi is excellent. There’s never one the same, and at times, you’ll never see the same type of fungi in the same place between years.

They're everywhere (on this dead tree trunk)! Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 6s, f/8, tripod.
They’re everywhere (on this dead tree trunk)! Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 6s, f/8, tripod.

In equipment terms, fungi are straightforward. I normally shoot with the lowest ISO possible, usually a medium aperture (f/8-ish) and whatever light is around. To avoid disturbing the camera on the frequently long exposures, I use a remote release or the two-second self timer. The camera is supported by a tripod: I switched from a Benro Travel Angel to a Benro Transformer at the beginning of the year. The Transformer is more versatile, amenable to colder climes, and sturdier than the Travel Angel. The penalty is increased size and weight, but it’s good to be able to choose between the two depending on my requirements for a given trip.

A family (not in the scientific sense) of fungi. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 1/6s, f/8, tripod.
A family (not in the scientific sense) of fungi. They’re being colonised by an army of small black insects. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 1/6s, f/8, tripod.

While I admit to being biased in their favour, fungi are an excellent subject for macro work, and one so varied it’s nigh-on impossible to get bored. If you’ve never been on a “fungal foray” (as my high school chemistry teacher dubbed my hobby), it’s well worth a go. The worst that can happen is you’ll get some nice shots, and possibly study a related scientific discipline…

The grass was green with envy. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 1/10s, f/8, tripod.
The grass was green with envy. It was also very wet and muddy to lie on. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 1/10s, f/8, tripod.
Fungi seem to like growing out from tree stumps. Maybe they think they're branches. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 3.2s, f/11, tripod.
Fungi seem to like growing out from the side of tree stumps. Maybe they think they’re the ghosts of tree branches. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro. ISO 200, 3.2s, f/11, tripod.
There is a small insect trying to photobomb. It didn't do a terribly good job. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro lens. ISO 200, 1/2s, f/5.6, tripod.
There is a small insect trying to photobomb. It didn’t do a terribly good job. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro lens. ISO 200, 1/2s, f/5.6, tripod.
A neighbour to the "family" of fungi. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro lens. ISO 200, 1/2s, f/11, tripod.
A neighbour to the “family” of fungi. Olympus OM-D with Olympus 60mm Macro lens. ISO 200, 1/2s, f/11, tripod.
With the Olympus 60mm Macro just shy of it's 1:1 setting, things become quite large. Except depth of field. That packs up it's bags and goes on holiday. Olympus OM-D. ISO 200, 10s, f/8, tripod.
With the Olympus 60mm Macro just shy of it’s 1:1 setting, things become quite large. Except depth of field. That packs up its bags and goes on holiday. Olympus OM-D. ISO 200, 10s, f/8, tripod.
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