The Fungus Among Us

I’m a big fan of mushrooms.  I like to eat them (when someone else has tested them first) and I like the way they look.

When we started off down the Savage Gulf Day Loop trail, it seemed like there was a new mushroom we’d never seen before every 10 feet or less.

In fact, sometimes there were whole families of mushrooms and, in some cases, it looked like the children were adopted.

I was blown away by the colors and sizes and varieties of mushrooms that added color to the trail in a way previously left to flowers.

Unfortunately, after toting the tripod around for 2.5 miles at Laurel Falls and Stone Door, I’d decided I didn’t want to tote it around for potentially 5 miles on the loop trail.  I opted for my camera with the 24-70mm lens and a 100-400mm lens in my bag in the hope of having less weight on my shoulders.  I also made a mental note to myself to, in the near future, look for a backpack with a hip belt that I can use to carry photography equipment–I have got to get the weight off my shoulders.

I’m fairly certain that the decision to leave my 100mm macro lens and tripod behind actually caused a massive mushroom bloom from the time we left the car to the time we started down the trail.  I would bet a lot of money that had I carried my tripod and macro lens, we wouldn’t have seen a single thing interesting enough to shoot up close.

As it was, I was left to try to simulate shooting macro in a dark environment with a hand held camera.  I was thankful that my Canon 5D Mark III has such awesome higher ISO performance (well, compared to my 40D, which I also left behind).  Were it not for that, I wouldn’t have captured a single mushroom.

On the way out, I shot mushrooms at 70mm, getting as close as possible, which isn’t that close since it’s not a macro lens.  The images are all cropped as a result.

On the way back, I shot mushrooms at up to 400mm, standing back further and desperately trying to hold the lens still.  I’m impressed that I got any decent shots at all.  I think this speaks to the amazing technology of image stabilization built into the lens.

Granted, some of the shots are a bit blurred from too much movement with too long of a shutter speed.  The second image is an example of this.  It’s one I should probably just delete.  But, when I looked at it in post processing, I was so pleasantly surprised to discover what I assumed was leaf debris was actually a tiny snail sitting on the mushroom cap, I couldn’t think of deleting the image.

It’s funny how sometimes the most pleasure comes not from executing a shot well but by discovering something in a shot completely by accident.