A fungi foray

Do you know your Shaggy Ink Cap from your Turkey Tail? Kevin Saw­ford turns his cam­era on the sea­son’s fungi

EADT Suffolk - - Your Pictures -

AL­THOUGH syn­ony­mous with au­tumn many species of fungi can be found through­out the year. But it is dur­ing late sum­mer and through into win­ter that the ma­jor­ity of species can be seen.

The fungi we see are the fruit­ing body of the or­gan­ism that has grown un­der­ground, or on a tree, for sev­eral months. Wood­lands are one the best places to find them and they vary from very small va­ri­eties mea­sur­ing just a few millimetres high, to large bracket fungi the size of din­ner plates. They also come with some very in­ter­est­ing names such as Shaggy Ink Cap, De­stroy­ing An­gel, Vel­vet Shank, Earth Star and Turkey Tail to name a few.

Many fungi are poi­sonous to hu­mans, but some are ed­i­ble. Of­ten species look sim­i­lar so it’s not rec­om­mended to eat any fungi un­less you’re cer­tain of its cor­rect sta­tus. Sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions put on fungi for­ays to col­lect and iden­tify what has been found. The Suf­folk Wildlife Trust has a cou­ple of dates for Oc­to­ber this year at its Brad­field Woods and Knet­tishall Heath re­serves. Check for de­tails at www.suf­folk­wildlifetrust.org

From a pho­to­graphic per­spec­tive fungi are one of the eas­i­est sub­jects to pho­to­graph – they don’t run away and, be­ing quite sturdy, they’re not blown about in the wind. How­ever, be­cause they grow in shaded ar­eas get­ting enough nat­u­ral light to brighten the un­der­side of the gills can be a prob­lem. Us­ing a flash, small re­flec­tor or a piece of pa­per can help with this.

One of my favourite fungi species to pho­to­graph, the Para­sol mush­room, is more as­so­ci­ated with open ar­eas. They can grow to a height of around 40 cen­time­tres and, as they de­velop, the cap trans­forms from a ball shape and be­comes more flat as it reaches ma­tu­rity. My main im­age was taken at Caven­ham Heath na­ture re­serve. I had been pho­tograph­ing this sin­gle spec­i­men with the golden light of the sun com­ing over my shoul­der and light­ing up the mush­room. Re­al­is­ing the op­por­tu­nity was pos­si­ble I posi-

tioned my­self so that the set­ting sun sil­hou­et­ted the sub­ject, and was able to cap­ture a se­ries of im­ages as the sun set be­hind the mush­room.

For this im­age, I laid my cam­era and lens di­rectly on the ground to get low­est pos­si­ble an­gle to show the fungi grow­ing in the grass­land and have the sun di­rectly be­hind. For me pho­tog­ra­phy is about see­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties that are avail­able when you are at a lo­ca­tion. I al­ways sug­gest look­ing at your sub­ject from all an­gles and see­ing how the dif­fer­ent light af­fects your im­age.

Sticky Ink Cap fungi

KEVIN SAW­FORD Kevin Saw­ford is an award win­ning wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher based at Elm­swell. He runs work­shops for Suf­folk Wildlife Trust and RSPB. www.kevin­saw­ford.com

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