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