Citizen Science: Photographing Mushrooms

We're going to be taking some pictures of mushrooms. Hopefully I can give you guys some tips and tricks to take home and improve your photography.

MycoGuide YouTube Channel

2015 is the year of Citizen Science for the Illinois Mycological Association.

Speaker: Rocky Houghtby; Mushroom Observer profile
Video created by James Strzelinski.
Published on Feb 27, 2015.

Find a mushroom club near you: North American Mycological Association, club index.

Transcript of video

Citizen Science: Photographing Mushrooms.

Hi, I'm Rocky Houghtby. We're here with the Illinois Mycological Association at Coral Woods. We're going to be taking some pictures of mushrooms. Hopefully I can give you guys some tips and tricks to take home and improve your photography.

The mushroom that we're going to shoot here is a Lycoperdon or Morganella, depending on which mycologist you want to listen to. The epithet is pyriformis, which refers to its kind of pear shape. This is an edible puffball as long as you get it when it's young. Fortunately this one is on a little portable piece of wood so I can relocate it somewhere where the sunlight isn't dappled.

The first step is to kind of judge how your scene is lit. If you have a lot of dappled sunlight and you're able to move your specimen then you should. Next, you want to clean the scene up. I have things like cotton swabs and tweezers, you know, for small mushrooms. Do what you can to make the scene look as alluring as possible. I like to try to remove any ugly looking mushrooms that I can.

I prefer to have an ISO of 100, which is the lowest image sensitivity setting that you can have. The higher your image sensitivity setting the more prone to artifacts, digital distortion, your image is going to be. Then I'll take an initial shot so that I can judge the exposure time and the size of my aperture and whether or not I need to adjust the white balance at all.

Right now I've got some pretty good even coverage but the backside of my mushrooms have highlights, which are areas that are illuminated too much. That's why I carry this diffusion umbrella around. Another thing I like to do, especially with gilled mushrooms, which we're not shooting right now, but it's nice with all mushrooms, is carry a reflector, so you can illuminate the bottom. Sometimes, if the light is too even, you get an unnatural scene. So I'm going to use a low power flash, off-center, to create some shadows. [sound of flash beeping then shutter] Nice!

There's a couple different types of shots you can take. I really love taking an in situ shot, so I like taking a picture of a mushroom how you see it when you find it. What it looks like in its natural environment. If it's the most beautiful type of picture of a mushroom you can take. But if you are cataloging something you would prefer to have several specimens so that you can organize in such a way that you can see all of the important macro-morphological characteristics: the stipe, the lamellae, the top of the pileus, the rim of the pileus. You want to get everything in there. ;