Maine Nature Photography – Maine Mycology


When I took my first photograph of a local mushroom I had little idea how complex the study and identification of these interesting subjects could be. I cannot consider myself an amateur mycologist in any form or fashion & don’t have an overwhelming interest in this activity when compared to other avenues of endeavor in which I engage. That being understood, they make incredible photographic subjects as they appear in a plethora of shapes, sizes, colors and configurations. It is this which drew my interest and later my lens to the fascinating & wonderful world of fungi...

Mushrooms - Thomas Knight Park, South Portland

Mushroom View


Mushroom view - Bonney Eagle Lake - Buxton

There are several things I’d like to impart as this article commences... First off, if you’ve read the paragraph above you’ll notice I disclaimed knowing anything about fungi. And no, I’m not modifying this fact, but where I have little skill in mushroom identification, I know somebody who does... In fact, I would declare unequivocally this individual is a highly skilled mycologist, photographer and a musician besides... Let this serve as my introduction to David W. Fischer - David’s website is a true phenomenon and a URL you’ll want to bookmark & visit repeatably - there is much information and many images – you’ll have to refer back multiple times to take it all in. If you see any of the subjects in this humble effort that are referenced by name, common or otherwise, most likely the identification can be attributed to David’s efforts and kind assistance.

Dinosaur Eggs

Mushrooms - Thomas Knight Park, South Portland

These park shots and the first landscape view on this page were taken at 400mm with a Canon EOS 30d at f/8, ISO 400 handheld - I was prone on the ground staying as low as possible so it was a low angle. When I enhanced these images I named the above view ‘Dinosaur Eggs’. And you can see what I named the image below…And yes, I do understand that they aren’t eggs at all. When this subject caught my eye in the field this is what they reminded my of and they still do. I was in the area photographing a Peregrine Falcon family nesting under the Casco Bay Bridge and when I returned a few days later again checked on this group. The Parks and Recreation Department had been through with one of those giant lawnmowers and there was no longer evidence of any type remaining - 'C'est la vie'...

Mushroom Eggs

Mushroom group photographed in the woods on a birding trip - Lewiston

Another thing I should point out is that a small handful of these images were taken over the summer of 2007 although all are from Maine - not many but a few including the one viewed here and the three from Thomas Knight Park. These have never been displayed and I thought this would be a good venue to post them as each scene is a bit unique.

Canon 5d/EF 500mm F/4L lens extended to 700mm, 1/20 second @ f/5.6, ISO 400 with flash
Mushroom grouping

Mushroom sequence group- Bonney Eagle Lake - Buxton

Mushroom view Mushroom view Mushroom view

Incoming fly

An enlarged view with a fly arriving at top left - Lewiston

Mushroom Image from a birding stop in Yarmouth - It was views of this nature that made me decide to make more of an effort to photograph these interesting subjects.

Canon 1Ds Mark III/EF 600mm F/4L lens extended to 840mm, 1/320 second @ f/16, ISO 640
Mushroom in Yarmouth

Two views of the same scene; both have merit and the wider angle indicates more of the surroundings - Lewiston

Mushroom group Flies on mushroom

Views from our Yard - July 2008

As more of an interest in these subjects developed I became aware about looking for fungi wherever I happened to be with the cameras. I found a group of mini mushrooms growing under a bush in our backyard and decided to take my time on a set up to best capture these photographically. The shot below taken handheld with my 40d, depicts my imaging system when I took the groups that follow as I experimented. In this photograph, at right I have my Canon EOS 1Ds camera mounted vertically on my Really Right Stuff BH-55R ballhead & Gitzo G1325 carbon fiber tripod with a Canon TC-80N3 electronic cable release. At left is my heavy-duty tripod, a Gitzo GT5530S CF and Wimberley Head II used simply to support a Canon 580EX flash. You can see the off camera remote cable to the flash between the tripods. All this works well together because you can place the flash in any desired position, adjust the intensity as required and move the shooting tripod closer or away from the subject. Sometimes I’d handhold the flash or place it on the ground on the stand provided with the device. Of course you have to lie on the ground for this type of shooting – desirable for a close up and to ‘see the world’ from the viewpoint of a mushroom, but you can use a blanket or something to be isolated from dampness if you wish. I generally just crawl around and deal with it later. If you look closely you can see the subjects of the lens in the scene - these mushrooms were tiny.

Fungi seeking machines... Portland

Macro Camera System

Mushroom full view

Backyard mushroom view

Views of the same scene - Portland

Mushroom view Mushroom view

Backyard mushroom view of an interesting subject - Portland

Canon 1Ds Mark III/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension tubes, 1/50 second @ f/16, ISO 3200

I was set up with 37 millimeters of extension tubes (Canon EF 12 II & EF 25 II - I'm an advocate of employing matching accessories in my system in lieu of after market products) minimizing the working distance on the Canon 70~200 f/2.8L IS zoom lens indicated in the system photograph earlier. Being able to move the camera to within the zone of focus was critical but not especially difficult with a zoom lens as this offered a bit more latitude. At times with these sessions I employed my Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro lens as well; this required a more exacting lens to subject distance for critical focus.
Interesting mushroom specimen

Mushroom view

A close up view of the same specimen

Fungi up close - this mushroom was no more than two inches in width

Mushroom close up border=

Mushrooms in the yard Mushrooms in the yard

A Crested Coral Mushroom (Clavulina cristata) - Bonney Eagle Lake - Buxton

Canon 1Ds Mark III/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension tubes @ 140mm, 1/50 second @ f/16, ISO 3200

One aspect I should have pointed out earlier in this article... I’ve been using the metadata read out that saves with the file when designating the focal length of the photographs, i.e., 70~200 f/2.8L lens @170mm, etc. This focal length information may not be precise when using extension tubes – I’m not certain and it’s not an issue to me. The formula to determine magnification for macro work is ‘total extension employed/focal length = magnification. In the above example this would create a magnification factor of .22X (37mm/170=.22). I never think about it in these terms or attempt to image at a precise magnification. You can judge for yourself, but I believe with large sensor cameras these reduced web shots have an acceptable image scale And portray the scenes as I wished.
Crested Coral Mushroom

Mushroom view

Mushroom view from Bonney Eagle Lake - Buxton

Mushroom view - Bonney Eagle Lake - Buxton

This mushroom was one of a group photographed at the family camp in Buxton in July and represents a close up of the pair noted in the photograph below. Both photographs were taken at the same working distance/magnification so you can obtain some idea of how large the image below would be if viewed at 100% file size. Linda and I attended a family gathering and searched the area to learn what we could find. Later I returned with the camera and imaged some of the examples we found around the grounds.
Mushroom color

Mushroom color in the pine needles

Mushroom view from Bonney Eagle Lake - Buxton

Plan view of a mushroom, fungi in the woods & another view of a Crested Coral Mushroom - Buxton

Mushroom in plan view Mushroom top in the woods Crested Coral Mushroom

Roadside Mycology - Portland...

Linda and I work in the same building in downtown Portland but perhaps surprisingly, drive different routes when traveling to the office. She informed me about some colorful and attention-grabbing mushrooms she’d noticed at the corner of a road where she makes a daily turn...

Color on the drive...

Canon EOS 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens @ 70mm, 1/25 second, f/11 at ISO 640
Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms (Omphalotus illudens)

Another view of Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms (Omphalotus illudens) along the road - Portland

Canon EOS 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens @ 70mm, 1/15 second, f/11 at ISO 640 with flash

When the weekend came I followed her to this location, camera gear on board so I could have a look. She was absolutely correct, not only did the site exhibit nice color but there was a significant diversity of fungi in this one spot.
Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms

Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms

Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms along the road

Canon EOS 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens @ 70mm, 1/25 second at ISO 640

Mushroom Diversty...

Canon 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens @ 185mm, 1/6 second @ f/22, ISO 640 with flash

The home at the corner was isolated from the road by a tree line where the mushrooms were sprouting. There was no sidewalk and little room to move off the road to park, so I straddled the curb to get my pick up out of the way as much as possible, dropped the tailgate and set up. Linda headed out to do some errands in the normal weekend routine; over four hours later when I returned home she asked where’d I been all this time... I’d never left the mushroom location the entire time.
Mushroom View

Mushroom cap

Mushroom view

All shapes, sizes colors and textures... Portland

Canon EOS 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension @ 200mm, 1/25 second, f/8 at ISO 640 with flash

Thick stock and gills...

One aspect I don’t enjoy about posting web images is the fact they have to be reduced both in size and resolution significantly... The impact of standing (or lying prone) in front of this group observing the color and textures was considerable.
Mushroom View

Emetic Russula Mushroom

Emetic Russula Mushroom - Portland

Canon EOS 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension @ 200mm, 1/30 second, f/9 at ISO 640 with flash

Emetic Russula Mushroom scene

While photographing these mushrooms I had multiple visitors. Two joggers stopped out of curiosity to ask what I was doing – I must have been a sight crawling around the ground in front of my tripod; one fellow stopped and asked if I knew enough about these mushrooms to determine which were acceptable to consume (no – and please don’t harvest or eat any while I’m standing here...), and a pair of extremely interesting fellow photographers, husband and wife, stopped to chat for a few minutes about my efforts. They were heading up the coast to attend a photography exhibit when they saw me on the side of the road and thought they’d ask what I was up to.

Canon EOS 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension @ 120mm, 1/5 second, f/9 at ISO 640 with flash
Mushroom View

Amanita (probably the pallid form of the common A. rubescens) on the left and the common, Ash-tree Bolete (Gyrodon merulioides) at right

Amanita and the common Ash-tree Bolete

common Ash-tree Bolete & Amanita mushrooms

Amanita Mushroom

Amanita, probably the pallid form of the common A. rubescens - Portland

Canon EOS 40d/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension @ 200mm, 1/10 second, f/11 at ISO 640 with flash

Gilled mushroom structure

Mushroom image from the Thompson Lake area - Buxton

When shooting with the camera low to the ground it doesn’t take much for a blade of grass or pine needle to interfere or hinder the shot. Trying to move objects or up-rooting them does work sometimes but the more one disturbs the area it often makes it worse. I’ve read about photographers carrying scissors along for field use and I can understand why. Some of these subjects are delicate and working around them can easily damage or break them off at the stem. I tried getting lower with a ground pod at times. With this device and a ballhead it does get several inches closer to the ground but I found the additional height from the tripod was usually an asset because it cleared the surrounding cover better.

Canon EOS 5d/EF 100 F/2.8 Macro lens, 1/2 second, f/8 at ISO 400 with flash
Mushroom View

Fungi spread at base of tree

Plan view of mushroom

Plan view of a Mushroom; the camera was set up directly above the subject - Buxton

Canon 1Ds Mark III/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension tubes @ 200mm, 1/60 second @ f/8, ISO 1600

Fungi spread at base of tree

Mushroom image in plan view from the Thompson Lake area - Buxton

This concludes both my group of mycology images and the overall photographic effort from the summer of 2008. I’ll do a bit of reading and research and be on the lookout for subjects this autumn before snow flies & in preparation for warmer weather in 2009. If my schedule permits I may get a bit more serious about seeking out mushrooms because I enjoy the wonderful high resolution scenes they can produce. If you’ve perused the three pages of this article I hope you’ve enjoyed my summer of Maine photography...

Canon 1Ds Mark III/EF 70~200 F/2.8L IS lens with 37mm of extension tubes @ 200mm, 1/60 second @ f/8, ISO 1600
Mushroom plan View

October 2008

A note about the photography...All images in this account are by the author. Any images viewed that are digitally framed and labeled have been added to my collection of works for sale. These are displayed when at shows and events either packaged on foam core, professionally framed or ArtiPlaq™ mounted as a final for purchase. The web versions are nice, but a full resolution print significantly enhances the beauty of these images; all are ©2008 Photography by Kirk M. Rogers - any reproduction, publication or transmission of this content without the written consent of the author is prohibited. Please contact me should you have an interest in obtaining any of the images.

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