How to Photograph Fungi: 10 Top Photographic Tips That Are Easy To Follow

Here's 10 steps that'll help better your fungi photography skills.

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We can't let October pass without mentioning a close-up photography subject many photographers shoot spectacular images of at this time of year and that's fungi.

So, if you're venturing into the world of fungi photography for the first time or just want a quick reminder on what kit you'll need, have a read of our guide on photographing mushrooms, toadstools and fungi.


Photo by David Pritchard


Pick the right season

The reason why this technique is something that's mentioned at this time of year is because fungi tend to like Autumn and Winter when it's cooler and wetter. You might even find them establishing themselves on your lawn, if conditions are right. 


Head somewhere dark and damp

Think dark, damp places such as dense woodland areas where not much sunlight can get through. Search under piles of leaves and look around the base of trees. After a spell of particularly wet weather, they will start to show themselves in more places than you might expect!


Use a macro lens

A good macro lens is a must as fungi isn't the largest of subjects and your shots will have more impact by getting in close.


Stabilise your kit

Low light means longer shutter speeds so you're going to need a support for your camera. Some tripods can be adjusted so they sit low to the ground but you could just use a beanbag if your tripod isn't so flexible. Consider using a remote / cable release so you don't introduce shake at the start of the exposure but if you don't own one just use your camera's self-timer.



Photo by David Pritchard


Pack a polarising filter

On particularly damp days shine can be a problem and mushroom tops can end up overexposed. To combat this, fit a polarising filter to the end of your lens which will reduce the shine. You may be wondering why you couldn't just head out on a dry day and there's no reason why you can't, however as David Pritchard explained a blog post: "There’s no better time for photographing mushrooms than after (or during) rain. The colours strengthen, and everything adopts a lovely sheen." 


Tidy the surroundings

It's sometimes worth cleaning the specimen up that you're photographing before you take your shots. Have a look at what's in the back of the frame, too to see if there's twigs or anything else that could prove to be distracting in the final shot. Please don't pull plants out of the ground or damage parts of a tree for the sake of a photo, though. It's important that you leave things as you found them once you've finished taking your images. Of course, you may prefer the natural look which means you won't have to brush any dirt off the mushroom at all.



Photo by Peter Bargh


Shoot down low

Fungi like the floor which we know isn't the most comfortable angle to work from but it does mean viewers of your images will be drawn into the fungi's world much more successfully if you shoot from low down. The fungi will also have a three-dimensional feel to them as they'll have more height, plus you'll be able to capture shots of the underbelly, too.


Think about your composition

As mentioned in the above point, once you've got your position on the ground, you'll be able to not only photograph the top of the mushroom's dome but underneath it too. This gives you the chance to capture some of the textures and colour the mushroom has to offer as well as exaggerate the height of it. Try to capture mushrooms in a group, as a variety of sizes will add interest of the piece. Odd groups are more pleasing to the eye than pairs but if you have one particular good specimen, don't overlook shooting it standing on its own. If you include the background and how much distance you put between you and the mushroom will change every time so do take some time to assess the scene before hitting the shutter button. 



Photo by Peter Bargh


Shed some light on the image

Fungi may like dark conditions but it's not something that's easy to work with as a photographer. The most interesting part of the mushroom is the underbelly and to highlight the textures, shapes and colours you're going to have to bounce light into the scene. You can use your camera's built-in flash but this will often result in a harsh light that doesn't really add anything to the photograph. Instead, use off camera flash and bounce the light off other objects. You can also play around with back light which should create a halo around the mushroom's top. If you don't have a flashgun experiment with a torch or use a reflector to bounce light onto the underbelly of the mushroom.



Photo by Peter Bargh

Use a shallow depth of field

Throwing the background out of focus will not only help isolate your subject but it can also hide unwanted clutter. Add a bit of backlight and your subject will pop from the frame.

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