fly agaric

Autumn past

With autumn now past I thought I would share a few images I took over that period, in particular, during a walk around a nature reserve near Canterbury in Kent. The conditions were (as any photographer could wish for when shooting autumn colour in the woods) still, overcast and ever so slightly misty. Aside from the vegetation remaining perfectly still the soft light muted the colours and give it more of an autumn feel. The first subjects I came across were these fly agarics. Autumn came incredibly late this year and ordinarily these would have been showing at least a month earlier. As it turned out, it worked in my favour as the woodland colours were at their peak the same time as the mushrooms themselves! I have dozens of images in my library of this species but the two together were irresistible. I like to work in a methodical fashion when shooting plants, especially when encountering a new species as I then feel I have covered all the bases. I’ll start with one of two straight record shots then, possibly, a wide-angle and finally I’ll look for something unusual. An angle that had, perhaps, initially elluded me. Anyone that shoots these subjects will appreciate how time consuming it can be, especially the “gardening.” Taking out bright leaves and the like that detract from the subject.

Fly agaric mushrooms

Even though my tripod goes to ground level, it still wasn’t low enough to create the vantage point I wanted. Ordinarily I would have used a beanbag but Ididn’t have one with me on this occasion so I used what I had. Gloves, hat, filter case and a lens cap! 

Nikon D300, 12-24mm @ 14mm, iso 200, 1/8 sec f16, tripod, mirror lock-up, angle-finder.

A little further on I came across this attractive little area of birch and bracken and spent the next while shooting a panoramic which consisted of 5 upright images stitched using PTgui software. One of the biggest problems encountered when doing this work is parallex error and unless you have a head which corrects this you will be restricted to the closest you can be be to the nearest point of focua. The one I use is made by Nodal Ninja. Beautifully engineered, lightweight and compact, it makes the whole process that much more enjoyable.

I ventured deeper into the woodland, off the beaten track, and there were pictures all around. The colours were breathtaking. The task was not as simple as I first thought, to make sense out of nature’s chaos!

Nikon D300, 70-200 @ 98mm, iso 200, 1/6 sec f8, tripod, mirror lock-up.

The sun threatened to burn through the mist but it never did. Sometimes, it would clear marginally, but mostly it remained so.

Another panoramic. Sometimes, there is no other format that will do the scene justice. In order to gain the perspective I was after (telephoto “stacking” effect) shooting with a wide-angle then trimming the top and bottom wouldn’t have achieved this so, several upright images stitched was the only answer. Quite a simple composition yet, typically me, I still managed to make a mountain out of a mole hill and spend close to an hour taking it. It’s a good job I work alone!

Parasol mushroom

The two below were taken in woodland in a nearby village. A break from the computer was in order and fortunately I live near such places. As the previous image, the panoramic format lent itself to the two scenes, especially the last one when mist becomes more pronounced the more you shoot through.

Beech tree in coppiced woodland.

With the marshes being but a short distance away, they are never far from my mind. Such a dry autumn resulted in dry marshes and the result is there were few birds within photographable range. That doesn’t stop me from going over there however and on a morning such as this, who can blame me!


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Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 Notes from the field No Comments

Wet morning

A particularly wet morning was spent today photographing fungi. I visited a favourite location of mine in mid Kent where I am usually able to find a wealth of subject matter. From the moment I stepped out of the car to the moment I got back inside, it was pouring down. I don’t care who you are, there is very little fun to be had setting up a tripod, composing the scene and positioning reflectors, when water’s running down your back! I always carry a small umbrella, particularly at this time of the year, and it proved jolly handy in keeping me and the equipment reasonably dry. Though as I look at my camera bag right now it is still sodden.

magpie ink-cap fungus

Magpie ink-cap

With the rainy weather we have been experiencing of late here in the south east, many species have been and gone but new generations always reappear. I walked a short while to a spot where the previous year there had been a good showing of magpie ink-caps and there they were. At least half a dozen, each in different stages of growth. Across the glade, several shaggy parasols were emerging and under a group of yew, fly agarics.

fly agaric

Nikon D2x, 200mm with PN11 extension tube, iso 200, 1 sec. f5.6, manfrotto tripod, right-angle finder, 2 reflectors, wet knees.

There were other species too that I didn’t bother with, partly because I had already shot them in more favourable weather and in better condition and also because they would have to look damn good if I was to get even more soaked! I’ll be returning frequently over the next few weeks as I will be leading two photography workshops, one of which still has spaces available.

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Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 Notes from the field, Workshops No Comments