Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Those Magical Mushrooms or You Light Up My Life
Greetings to all,
Today the rain stopped so I could at least get out and stretch a bit. I did some indoor photography in the morning and then I just had to get out. After all this rain cabin fever was setting in. Those of you that live in places where it rains a lot can relate. Outside it was foggy and heavily overcast. The prefect conditions for doing some macro work. I decided to go out and wander about and see if I could find some mushrooms to photograph.
Before I went out I gathered the necessary items I would need to be comfortable while photographing. First on my list was a set of kneepads. Crawling around on your hands and knees on the forest floor can be tough on the knees so they are a big help. Second was a ground pad like the type used for back packing to lay on. This allows you to fully stretch out on the ground without getting very dirty. A major plus if it has just been raining and it allows you to get down and dirty for those really low shots. Think Mushrooms! The next item is one that I have found to be almost indispensable. A small LED flashlight. These are just perfect for lighting up underneath the crowns of mushrooms. I tape a short cylinder of tagboard about three inches long to the end of it with electricians tape to narrow the spread of the light a little. As always I brought a 100mm macro lens, ground pod and a shutter release as the majority of shots would have long exposures and very small f stops. See one of my older posts for a very simple ground pod and a nice poster of mushroom images.
After finding a mushroom I do a bit of selective gardening around the mushroom to clean things up a bit. Care must be taken not to go too deeply or it will disturb the mycelium and make it difficult for the mushroom to reproduce next year. Then I lay out the pad, lay down and work to get a good composition. The majority of fungi are best photographed from ground level and from the side. there are obviously exceptions to this however, the best angle typically is right at ground level. This means gettin' down on your belly. A right angle viewfinder is a plus for some folks that can't get that low. After getting the composition and focusing taken care of I start on the exposure.
Using an ISO of 100 or 200 will often give longer exposures in the six to eight second range if I use Aperature Priority and set the lens at f16 or F22.0. This allows me to paint using light from the flashlight on portions of the mushroom I would like to stand out. It also gives the most depth of field; something that is really needed when doing macro work. To paint using the flashlight I like to swirl the flashlight in a circular motion over the area that I am painting. By continually moving the flashlight you eliminate hot spots from showing up so easily. The distance you use the flashlight from the mushroom can vary. I typically hold it about 8 inches to a foot away. So much is going to be dependent upon the situation and the power of the flashlight.
I try to shoot a number of different compositions and exposures. It is critical to check your backgrounds for lingering little items and hot spots. I can't count the number of times I have caught myself thinking. I don't remember that being there. We get so focused on our subject that we miss the little things around it.
When you are done please be sure to replace any leaves or sticks back around the mushroom that you may have moved when you were setting up.
So get creative and make some great images,
God's light and love to all,