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Photographing Fungi

September 30, 2014

By Danielle Lancaster

No matter what you want to call them: toadstools, mushroom or fungi, this is one subject I love to photograph.


Here’s a few tips:
Know the season for different species in the area you live in or are visiting. For instance, I live on Tamborine Mountain about an hour’s drive south from Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. It’s home to the oldest national park in Queensland and the third oldest national park in the world.

When we have an increase of temperatures along with overcast days and rain, fungi bloom. We can experience cloudy days where the fog rolls in providing a damp, cool environment, perfect for eukaryotic organisms wich these belong to.

Get down to the fungi’s level
Most fungi live close to the ground and the best photographs are taken from down low – either alongside or from under the plant. What you are looking for is to see the texture, shape and colour.

Start by playing with one particular subject and try photographing it from a variety of different angles.


Make sure to look at your lighting. You’ll most likely be working in a low light environment. I find the majority of my images are taken using a tripod where I can have longer shutter speeds then I can hand hold with while keeping a relatively low ISO to minimise noise for the camera I’m using.

DSC_4820_650 DSC_2842_650
When on a tripod make sure you turn your Image Stabilisation or Vibration Reduction OFF
and when hand holding this must be ON.

Depth of Field (DOF) depends (it’s a word we use a lot in photography). It depends on the subject, the lens I am using and the effect I wish the final image to have.
In the imags below you can see the change in DOF on the same subject from f/5.6 to f/51. Both give different information on the subject and location and aesthetic feel.

Nikon D3 105mm
Nikon D3 105mm

If I need to, I may introduce a reflector to assist with the lighting of the fungi and one of my favourite is the common kitchen aluminium foil (as in the image below).

Fungi (30)_square_400

The light around fungi can not only be dark but also contrasty which can make things tricky.

Fill flash is another method that you can use as is taking your flash off camera to provide directional light which is much preferred when we are working in close. Side lighting always emphasizes texture which fungi have a lot of.

Be prepared to:

  1. Get in close: isolate your subject and make its features stand out. For DSLR uses a macro lens is best. If you have a point and shoot camera turn it onto the macro mode.DSC_2850_edited_1400
  2. Do some cleaning: its okay to clean the fungi a little (I believe). Often the plant may have tiny bits of dirt, a leaf, or other forest matter on it, as many have risen from the forest floor. A very gentle brush across the fungi will not hurt it. At the same time look at what is around your subject as your background and foreground need to complement your subject.
    Always be environmentally friendly. We want the next season to bloom again next year, the year after, the year after and I’m sure you get the picture.
  3. Enjoy the world of fungi!


Images copyright Danielle Lancaster
Danielle Lancaster is a professional photographer with Bluedog Photography.
She loves sharing her passion of photography with others. Bluedog Photography runs photography courses, retreats and tours in-person and online and shoots a range of imagery for corporate and private clients.
For more info please visit: www.blue-dog.com.au or
Email: info@blue-dog.com.au


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