I don’t do it all the time, but if I can get under a mushroom I will. Well, not me exactly, I’m not Alice, but my camera. For these first two images I used the wider end of my 12-35mm lens. The first one was on a tripod, the second literally on the ground with sticks and the lens cap acting as shims to get the camera level. The perspective is terrific and it shows off those beautiful gills.
Sometimes the structures that hold and release spores are a bit different like with boletes that have an underside that looks like a sponge. I recently found out that a single mushroom can release millions of spores in a single day. They do this every day it fruits pretty much. Amazing.
In addition to gills and pores there are also teeth. The idea of toothed fungus makes me a little giggly, but that’s how they’re categorized. This one happily turned itself inside out so I could get a peek at those teeth. I shot this with a medium telephoto because it was way inside a bunch of bushes that I had to hold out of the way to get this shot. I couldn’t tell it was a toothed mushroom until I looked at it on the computer. And the ID took a while because this is a remarkably pristine specimen. The ones in my books were ragged, dirty and stained. Just lucky I guess.
Here’s another example of a toothed mushroom –
It’s sometimes called a hedgehog mushroom (aka Hydnum repandum) and is not only edible, but reportedly delicious. Now I know where they grow (some chanterelles conveniently nearby) I can gather them next year and have a taste. I could use my tripod to shoot that image (and many others from the down low) because I do not have the center post attached. My particular model came with one, but it is removable and so the legs splay to 90 degrees and the head touches the ground. Very handy. If you want to do a lot of this type of work either take out your center post or get a tripod that doesn’t have one to begin with.
It is occasionally a bit of work to get under a small mushroom that isn’t on a nice stump or log. Usually there are only little slopes and depressions in the forest floor, but sometimes the tripod in its lowest position is too high. In those cases I reach for my homemade beanbag camera prop. Then I can usually get low enough since it’s only a couple inches thick. I use a 1 quart ziplock bag with 2 bags of barley inside it. I’ve stuck some friction tape to one side of it to keep the camera from sliding. And, as I mentioned above, sometimes I still use sticks and/or my lens cap to shim. It’s magical when I can get so low that the foreground changes dramatically and helps me highlight only the cap, which adds a dash of mystery.
I also like the foreshortened perspective that helps to emphasize the mushroom, not where it fruits. And there’s the lovely bokeh that often comes with shooting in dappled sunlight.
In the end, there are only so many ways to shoot mushrooms, but up from under is usually a winner!
Just a quickie. This one was really hard to photograph because the plant is a big, sprawling mess really. At first I thought it might have been some long-finished columbine. A little closer and I thought it might be a kind of bleeding heart, then I noticed the flowers were missing their other half and had yellow at the opening. Nope, not bleeding heart. Not having ever seen it before I had no idea and it took a couple flips through the wildflower book to figure it out.
It was a little bit breezy and so even when I found an interesting couple of blossoms, it was a test of my patience to wait for the calm moments. That’s why I didn’t even see that mosquito until I got the shot into Lightroom. I was staring at the flower on my screen waiting for stillness. Plus I was on this rockpile, which is where these flowers like to grow according to my guide, and it was difficult to get into a position that was anywhere near comfortable. LOL. I had an idea to turn this shot 90 degrees to get the flower oriented correctly, they actually hang vertically with that little crest on top and the yellow opening on the bottom, but I kind of like it this way, especially with that little blood sucker in there. Actually, that may be a male mosquito given the color (dig the blue stripes) and the feathery antenna, and males eat nectar not blood, but I have no idea. After doing a bit of scouting on the web for a confirmation of my ID, I realized what a distinctive image it is so I went with it.
Wait, did I say a quick post? Oy. So much for that. As a bonus, here’s another shot –
While wide-spread with many varieties, purple gerardia is new to me. Mostly because I think it gets lost in the overabundance of late summer. That and it grows in some pretty poor soil, basically sandy areas which are largely seen as waste lots full of weeds. Be that as it may, I got right down with the macro lens as soon as I saw these little beauties. They were in the parking area of the Musquash where a lot of other messy wildflowers grow.
They’re part of the snapdragon family which also includes foxglove and speedwell. I shot a few images at the start of my walk in the woods, and I had a feeling I’d snag a few more at the end. Oddly I couldn’t find this same flower at first. Then I realized that the flower had fallen off the stem and was lying on the ground with a bunch of others. Seems that the flowers are either very fragile or only last a day. Luckily it had a few neighbors with more tenacious blossoms –
They were sharing this little patch of the earth with some rabbit’s foot clover, which is really fuzzy and tinged with pink and green. It made for a really soft and billowy sort of background which I like for the delicate purple gerardia. Unfortunately the sun broke through the clouds for this shot and so my husband had to make some shade for me. I like the slight back-lighting. Ants seem to like this flower a lot. Maybe the nectar is especially sweet. No doubt that is very important to a flower that relies on seeds for continuation of the species.
I may head back there soon because there were other overlooked little beauties there, too. Tiny yellow flowers, that when closed, are dark red, as are the edges of the leaves here on the gerardia. I’m thinking of abstracts and soft-focus washes of color. Something different than what I do with spring wildflowers. High and late-summer flowers seem different to me. They are less structured and more intricate with colors and shades. Maybe it’s just me, but I like the distinction.
Wahoo! Another beauty photographed. Never have I shot these before, but while out doing some river work (my favorite, the Piscataquog, and I’ll post about that soon) I found some near a pond’s runoff streams. This flower has become quite rare in some areas due to people picking and digging it up a lot. I can see why though – the red is intense. I had to actually back off some of the saturation because the camera was clipping the reds! They really stand out among the greens of the grasses, ferns and other plants.
Aren’t they gorgeous?? They tend to favor moist soils rich in humus which is why I found them alongside streams from a pond. The streams eventually run into the Piscataquog. All shot with the OM 90mm macro at varying apertures. River landscapes coming soon!
Another one that isn’t so much elusive, as limited in photographic potential.
It’s limited in a few ways. First it lives in bogs and fens which are relatively rare habitats made rarer by man’s manic need to fill in wetlands and build subdivisions on them. If you live in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee or Illinois the flower is endangered or threatened and you may never see one there unless you are very lucky. Second limiting factor is that a lot of bogs are just plain inaccessible without stilts. The peat and heath matting is very deep, totally soaked and difficult to travel through. Luckily Ponemah bog has a decent walkway that passes right by some of these beauties and with some creative positioning (and knee pain) I could shoot them.
A bit more research turned up the fact that they are carnivorous. No wonder they do well in bogs which are notoriously too low in nutrient levels for most plants. I also photographed a couple other carnivorous plants the other day, but I’ll save those for later. Horned bladderwort doesn’t use sticky traps or funnels of death to catch its prey. This little flower uses its leaves which have been specially adapted with bladders that suck tiny organisms up into them to be digested. The leaves are spindly and are almost always under ground, leaving only the stem and flowers on the surface.
The shape of the flowers is pretty interesting and they seem to be a favorite of the local spiders. All these images were shot with the OM 90mm macro. Because of the boardwalk, photographic compositions are limited, but with some contortions and gentle bending out of the way of distracting elements, I got a few that are pretty good. The backlit and sunlit shots just didn’t work well since the backgrounds also tended to be lit up and the flowers got lost in them. The pink of the orchids in the last bog series stood out much more because of the color contrast.
In the next few days I’ll also put up some shots of the bog itself at dawn. This last trip I spent some time shooting landscapes and slices of landscapes that really depict the fullness and richness of the ecosystem. I even saw wet little fox footprints on part of the walkway, so there’s a lot of life there that goes unseen.
Elusive in the sense that they require a specific and rare habitat, not that I don’t have them nearby or that they are scarce in that location. I’m lucky. I live near a kettle bog (two actually, but one has more trail, luckily the closer one). A kettle bog, named for the shape of the depression in the earth it takes up, is generally very old (Ponemah bog is about 12,000 years old), was created during an ice age, has no incoming supply of water other than from rain and also has no outlet for that water other than evaporation. Over time it will shrink and shrink until there’s nothing left. Until then though, there are tons of relatively exclusive plants that you can find an enjoy in a bog. Too bad the word bog isn’t is pretty as one actually is. Typically a bog is not a nutrient rich environment, so the kinds of plants that live in one are adapted to this low-cal diet. Most of the flowers are pink and one of the showiest is grass pink, a type of orchid. Pardon the all portrait orientation – the landscape shots just didn’t work.
Because the path is a wooden walkway that is sunk deep into the vegetation and water of the bog itself, it’s not possible to step off the path without getting very wet. Plus stepping off will damage fragile plants and animals so even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t. Being stuck on the walkway though limits the photographic possibilities somewhat. And often times I couldn’t do the amount of scene-clean I wanted to do in order to eliminate distracting elements. But that’s the beauty of things sometimes; nature is messy.
All of these were shot on a tripod using the OM 90mm macro. Apertures were between 5.6 and 8. I did a little tweaking in Lightroom, but not much – mostly for color correction since dawn light seems to be tough for a digital sensor. Luckily the wind was very calm and the lighting was totally lickable. The dew was pure luck though. I forgot that it was rather chilly last night and there was even fog over the pond itself. I only had eyes for these beauties though and even tried one with the newly-risen sun straight on. The blossoms themselves are only about an inch at their widest and I’m glad I caught them at the beginning of their bloom cycle so that there aren’t old flowers hanging on the stalks.
It’s a tiny bit bright, but that’s how it was; bright, clear and fresh, with birds singing. Something right out of a Disney movie (but without talking rodents).
They aren’t showy or rare, but I couldn’t resist the artful arrangement of leaves in the early morning sun. I have shot them before, but not with a flower closed like this. I think it adds a tiny bit of the unexpected. Some tension maybe and makes you imagine the days to come.
“It looked like I had another chance at the twenty dollars.” – Philip Marlowe, The Little Sister
There’s never a bad time for Raymond Chandler now is there? When I went to see if another flower was blooming, I found that the hepatica still were and this line from my favorite Chandler came into my head.
I almost didn’t go. The light has been pretty lousy this week; especially in the afternoon. For the shot I want I need late afternoon sun. I was all set to go out yesterday afternoon, but the light quit at about 3:00. Bah. So today I decided to see what I could do in the morning, if the darn thing was in bloom yet. Then it started to sprinkle just as I got the car out of the garage. I dashed back in for a quick look at the radar. Just pop-ups and passers, nothing that would linger so out I went.
After checking the flower I want to shoot and seeing it wasn’t blooming, I decided to check out what else was doing and found myself on the hepatica hill again. Before I could get going another gentle rain shower started. I waited it out under a spreading hemlock and when it was over, I found these beauties –
I have a ‘how to shoot wildflowers’ ebook and it states one should never shoot wildflowers in direct sun. Really? And miss a shot like that one? Not on your life. I think working within absolutes is quite limiting and I’ve never been a stickler for the rules. There are always exceptions. It’s learning how to recognize those exceptions and figuring out how to turn them to advantages. I’m not an expert in all of them, but I think I know enough to be dangerous. : )
Anyone have any photography rules they like to break and have them work???