May Day Mushroom


I’m not sure why, but I kind of have a fascination with photographing mushrooms. They’re not around for long, and when you get down low to the ground to take a picture it feels a bit like you’re sneaking a peek into some kind of hidden kingdom. You don’t see them out in the open very often, and something about the conditions in which you often find them (i.e. musty, damp, kind of dark) just seem kind of…different. When my wife and I took our kids to the local botanic garden for their annual May Day event we were about to head to one of the art pavilions when I spotted this mushroom poking through some mulch near the base of a tree, so I told them to go on without me for just a minute.

I had (what else?) my Fuji X100F with me which isn’t super sharp at maximum aperture when photographing subjects up close, but in this case I cared more about blurring the background than getting an ultra-sharp image, so I didn’t care too much about the technical details and just went all the way to f/2.0. I shot this in JPEG, as I usually do with my Fuji, and used the Velvia film simulation which is really well-suited for nature photography because it has a rich but not overly-saturated color palette. I positioned the mushroom slightly off-center to get some greenery behind it, and even though there’s some weird smudging along the left side of the stem I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s got a nice sense of time and place, and the overcast sky lent a nice even lighting to the whole scene.

I think one of the things that draws me to these types of pictures is the transient nature of the subject. If I would have come back to the same spot the next day, the mushroom would have been gone. These things come and go so quickly you really don’t have much time to photograph them, which means you get a nice little slice of time captured on camera that’s somehow different from a lot of other pictures.

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