Today I want to feature a quick write up talking about some helpful tips for shooting the mushrooms that are out in a lot of the forests this time of year. Typically speaking, you will not find mushrooms (at least easily) all year round. You want to search them out during the wet and damp times of the year. Spring can work nicely as well. Remember that cooler places, may have a later springtime, so consider your specific location and allow for a month or two buffer. The few shots on the blog were all found in October at Acadia National Park. Now that we know when let’s talk about where in the forest you might see these guys. Keep your eyes open and look in areas of vegetation that tend to stay darker, instead of receiving lots of sunlight.
Now that we know when let’s talk about where in the forest you might see these guys. Keep your eyes open and look in areas of vegetation that tend to stay darker, instead of receiving lots of sunlight. They love the dark. They like the damp areas. Check the underside of logs, along sides of trees, below trees. A good rule I have learned is that if you don’t think a mushroom would grow there, you better check!
So you found a beautiful picturesque mushroom! The most significant tip I can give is to use depth of field to help isolate your subject. This is a standard technique used for macro and mushroom photography. You can achieve this by using a wide open aperture. For me, I love an extremely shallow depth of field, so I will not hesitate to drop down to an f-stop of 2.8 on my Sigma 150mm macro lens. If you need more depth of field to get more of the mushroom in focus, raise your f-stop.
As far as ISO and shutter speed for mushroom photography, the great thing is that the shrooms are usually in a very still location and you can take a long exposure and keep ISO reasonably low. Wind, background or vegetation can make it so you might not be able to capture such a long exposure so be aware of your surroundings when windy.
Now that we mention the vegetation I want to bring up one more point. Sometimes if I see a shrub or two, or a few damp leaves, for example, I will touch up my scene and gently remove them from the framed shot. Please note though that you should not pull live plants or disturb habitats.
Get low, and get close! There’s so many details, colors and angles to be captured. I love being at the ground level to capture the mushrooms from eye level.
Consider natural light sources; perhaps you have some sunlight coming through the trees onto the ground. This has the potential for a tremendous backlit scene.
Use a tripod, you want these shots as sharp as possible, and this will help you use whatever shutter speed you feel necessary. And why not use a timer if you are on a tripod? Even just a two-second timer helps so when the shutter works it’s magic, your hand is off the camera, ensuring no subtle vibrations.
This is a great time to practice manual focus if you are not familiar with it. The perfect test subject, who will stay still as long as you need!
Hopefully, in this quick read, you are now able to capture some excellent mushroom photography on your next hike! If you enjoy nature, check out my landscapes gallery!