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I’m going to start out my making something very clear. I don’t claim to be an expert photographer. But I do think my shots speak for themselves. With that in mind lets get started.

So you want to take pretty pictures of lovely fungal growths that are usually found in wet, muddy, autumnal forests (but not limited too!). Well you’ve come to a good place. This is a bit of a brain dump on what I find works and gets me the types of shots I want. Case in point…

Get Down!

In the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger as bullets are flying all around the place. GET DOWN! Hopefully you won’t have to worry about bullets when taking photos of our tiny forest friends, but you can never be too careful.

Anyone can see a mushroom from the top down. We all know what they look like. They can still make for some great photos from that perspective. But like a lot of other subjects in photography you really want to look your subject in the eye. Get down on your hands an knees or lie on your belly and get really under that fungi. If you can capture some of the detail underneath your showing off a hidden world not usually seen by the naked eye. Obviously waterproofs or a mat usually help for this type of thing as the types of place fungi grow aren’t too dry.

Light the way

I’m going to let you into a secret. The light in that photo above isn’t natural. You might have a problem with that and be a sunlight purist. That’s fine. But personally I find that carrying around a little light in a dark forest helps with the finer details and provides more contrast and depth to your images that would otherwise be lacking. I personally use an Aputure MC. Having a small, portable light source like this that I can easily put inside a pocket has helped me out so many times. The best suggestion I can give for using a light like this is to try as many angles as you can. Don’t just light from above, go for the sides, from behind and from down below. You’ll find with such a strong light source against something so small the slightest twist and turn of the light can create some wonderful effects.

Keep things steady

If you’ve been photographing things for a while now you would have been bitten by low light situations at least once. There’s the obvious answer, add more light, but sometimes that’s just not going to do. You can also increase you ISO. This is a valid approach, but you’re photographing things that don’t (usually) move. So what’s the rush?

I find that leaning the camera on the ground and propping it up using a loose twig or two and make for the perfect makeshift tripod. Failing that you could use something less natural. My personal preference is the Joby GorillaPod 3K. This is small enough to carry with ease while also been able to get your camera pretty close to the ground. Make sure that you get one that can support your camera weight or you might find it buckling.

This approach will allow you to keep you ISO low and get the clearest possible shot you can.


Depending on how close you get to the mushrooms you might find your depth of field causing a few issues getting everything into focus. If you’ve not heard of it focus stacking is the process of capturing multiple photographs and different depths of field and then combining them together into a single image with everything in focus.

Some cameras do in camera stacking (such as the very excellent Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III that I regularly use). But personally I prefer a bit of a lazier stack. The photo below is one such example. Capturing a couple of photos focusing on each individual bonnet (closing the aperture enough to get the bonnet in focus) and combining after in Helicon Focus. The sharp eye amongst you will notice one of the bonnets in the middle of the group out of focus, highlighting why it’s important to focus on each subject you want in focus during this method.

I hope you find these tips useful in your endeavours and if you have any that you would like to share leave a comment below! Happy fungi hunting.

Categories: Tutorials


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