Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 09/09/2012

There’s not mushroom in here!




Cheetah, originally uploaded by http://andrewskelton.net.

Well, it’s that time of year again, one I look forward to each year though of course it’s a double edged sword. As the darker nights draw in, and there’s a freshness in the air, it can only mean one thing… it’s mushroom season. Of course, as I’ve said before, I’m not planning to turning up at a supermarket to snap their fungi section – it’s the wild types I like and want to photograph. The first rains usually bring them out in abundance, however I’ve missed a few photographic opportunities this year so i’m taking no chances and will be venturing out to see what I can find.

Packing my camera bag for such sojourns is very simple; I exchange the gimbal tripod head used in conjunction with the 600mm lens for a Gitzo off-centre ball head, which allows me to angle the camera in any direction I wish – always useful for things that are low down. The bag itself normally has two camera bodies, a flashgun and 5 lenses, quite a weight to carry around though it’s nothing compare to an extreme wildlife day when I take the 600mm, 150-500mm in addition to the above – these add up to 43 lbs which can be quite tiring I’ll admit. It, therefore, feels quite odd when out hunting for fungi to have the same bag that takes the first setup but with only one camera, one lens and one flashgun… in fact to make sure it feels right I have to load it down with rocks (only I won’t, as that would be like stupid*).

I have on a number of occasions been approached, whilst out taking mushroom photos, by member of the public who are concerned when they see my prostrate on the floor, thinking there’s something wrong. Most mushrooms, with the exception of the bracket family of fungi, reside on the ground and so to photograph the you need to get down and personal, hence genuflecting in front of these mycological specimens. I did think, a couple of years back, of writing the definitive Mushroom Spotters book, taking photos of all the species that can be found on these fair shores… until during my research I found there are over 9,000 species to be found within the UK most of which experts can’t easily distinguish which was certainly a little disheartening. I would say it’s an uphill challenge but it’s more a forest floor type of trial.

* A phrase from the incomparable Horrible Histories, a TV show allegedly for kids but I suspect it’s more for the parent!

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