Isn’t Autumn just your favourite time of the year? I love Autumn! Not because of the rain, but because of the beautiful colours and of course the mushroom popping up everywhere you look! Photographing mushrooms is not the easiest, but with these 9 tips for photographing mushrooms in autumn you should be able to overcome all hurdles and end up with great results. Let’s get started.
Low, lower, lowest
You will get the most beautiful results when you bring your camera all the way down to the ground. Most of the texture of mushrooms can be found underneath their cap, so you want to try to capture that in your photo. Photographing down is therefore no option: you won’t see these beautiful textures.
By laying flat on your belly, you can see underneath. This also gives your photo a great sense of depth, since you will photograph the mushrooms from the side, allowing you to see through and past. If you just shoot with your camera pointing down, you won’t see any of the texture underneath the cap, and your photo will turn out rather flat. So, go as low as you can!
Bring a plastic bag
Always bring a plastic bag (or 2) when photographing mushrooms. Autumn is great, but the soil might be moist. Mushrooms need this moisture to develop, so you are almost guaranteed wet cloths when lying down flat. A plastic bag keeps you dry. Use the second bag as protection for your camera!
Mushrooms host an extraordinary amount of detail: show it! By bringing your camera as close to the mushroom as possible, you are able to capture these details in all their glory! However, mind your lens’ closest focus distance. You can find this distance printed on your lens. Don’t bring your lens closer to your subject than this distance, or you won’t be able to focus anymore…
Watch your depth op field
It’s great to photograph mushrooms using a shallow depth op field (small f-number). However, since you most likely will be close to the subject, don’t dial your f-number to low. You will end up with a depth of field that is too shallow, which most likely won’t look great on your photo. An aperture of around f8 to f11 most likely will give you the best results for close-up photos.
Exception to the rule: when you try to take a close-up photo of a detail of the mushroom, a shallow depth of field might give you great results! In that instance you can use an aperture like f2.8 or f4.
Sometimes it is the bigger picture that makes mushrooms a beautiful sight: surrounded by colourful leaves, a rotten tree trunk, bright green moss… you don’t always have to show all the details, showcasing them growing in their stunning surroundings can give you great result as well. So, don’t only focus on going close, widen your horizon and always check whether a landscape shot is suitable.
Find light rays (or wait for them)
The greatest part of photographing mushrooms is the fact they grow amongst the trees. When the sun shines through the branches and leaves, you end up with stunning light rays illuminating your mushrooms. Normally you won’t go out photographing in the middle of the day, but because of the light being filtered by the leaves and branches, you can photograph mushrooms at any time. This even gives you a great contrast between the dark brown base and the white / yellow / beige mushrooms. The light rays can make them pop out!
If you see a nice cluster of mushrooms, but they are currently located in the shade: just wait. Most likely there will be a moment the light hits the mushrooms. Wait for that moment since it will increase the quality and look of your photo dramatically!
Stabilise your camera
Photographing in the forest means difficult light conditions. In general, a forest is quite dark. You also want to capture as much details in your mushrooms as possible, which means you want to keep your ISO as low as possible, resulting in slower shutter speeds….
For that reason, ensure you stabilize your camera to avoid camera shake. A tripod which allows you to go all the way down to the ground will work just fine. Otherwise put your camera on the ground, protected by the plastic bag I told you about earlier.
Watch your histogram and under expose
Because of the dark environment of the forest, your camera most likely wants to overexpose your photo. Watch for that reason your histogram. Take a test photo and see how the photo turns out. Too bright? Use exposure correction to under expose with about 1 stop. You most likely end up with better and more dramatic results!
Frame your subject
Finally, try to frame your subject! In general photos look better when you are able to create some sense of depth. By framing your mushrooms with leaves, branches, fallen seedpods or nuts, you can create this feel in a natural way.
Small branches can work as leading lines, leading the eye of the viewer towards your subject.
I hope this tutorial has given you some usable tips and inspired you to go out to photograph mushrooms. As always I would love to see your results! Post them on my Facebook page to show your photos to the world. I can’t wait to see them.
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