Fungi Foray – Orchards, Boxted

Lisa and I made a secret visit to the Orchards on Thursday to capture some of the glorious array of mushrooms and toadstools that thrive there …

It was an opportunity for me to practise some more close-up shots, so I went armed with my 100mm 2.8 macro lens, a towel to kneel down on and a ‘gorillapod’ mini tripod to rest on my camera bag. It was a mild morning with bright patches, which resulted in a soft muted light once we had entered the chestnut coppice.

 

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We were hoping to find some examples of the quintessential toadstool – the Fly Agaric – which everyone remembers as the one that the fairies, pixies and woodland creatures shelter under in our childhood storybooks.  Lisa had seen them last year just to the left of the path that you see above – amongst the fallen sweet chestnut leaves.

It wasn’t long before I was lucky to spot a small group of them amidst the trees.  I  was very excited, as I was really keen to photograph these beautiful but poisonous fungi …

 

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The toadstool above was my favourite of the group, even though it wasn’t fully developed. I loved the vivid scarlet colouring and sticky surface – with the characteristic white ‘warts’ still attached. These are the remains of a temporary membrane through which the fungus first emerges, although they rather reminded me of a scattering of chopped hazelnuts on some magical dessert …

I had fun during our photo shoot trying different aperture settings but having studied all my finished images have decided that I prefer the shots with the narrower apertures. They have given me the best spread of focus which I think works better than a narrow depth of field and bokeh. I wanted to achieve maximum clarity for the caps of the fungi and I actually love all the autumnal colours and textures of the woodland backdrops.

My next image is of an even younger Fly Agaric which reminded me of those ‘marshmallowy’ coconut mushroom sweets that I used to buy as a child …

 

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These toadstools actually get their name from an ancient use as an insecticide to kill flies – but are also very well-known for their hallucinogenic properties. Toxic rather than deadly poisonous ; they have been long used by certain cultures in religious ceremonies as entheogens – to induce altered states of consciousness.  Apparently, parboiling removes any psychoactive properties and they are eaten in parts of Europe, Asia and North America.  Although it looks very appealing to me – I decide that I don’t really want to touch it, let alone eat it !!

My last image of the ‘magic toadstool’ is one with its cap fully expanded, although the following example is a very small one. Hardly big enough for a pixie to use as an umbrella …

 

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We both spent a delightful few hours in the wood spotting at least 15 different types of fungi of all shapes colours and sizes. Unfortunately I have found them very difficult to identify, so cannot give names to most of my images.  The following, however, is a Parasol Mushroom – and I love its wonderful concentric textured pattern …

 

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I then found an upturned mushroom cap that reminded me of a fairy’s delicately gathered party dress.

 

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Out on the fringes of the woodland I found some tiny mushrooms whose almost translucent caps made the gills appear as though they were on the top rather than below …

 

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There was also a discarded cap of a orangey- yellow toadstool that was nestled in the wet grass.

 

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Once back amongst the trees I was amazed to find the smallest fungi of the day, growing out of a fallen cone … so perfectly formed in miniature.

 

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When Lisa and I had first entered the wood we had spotted the most striking bright orange toadstools on the bank of a tiny stream. These amazing fungi were small but so vivid and reminded me of some exotic intelligent life-form from an episode of Star Trek !

 

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The caps had a translucent quality without any defining features which made them very difficult to focus on.  I thought that they looked rather like the amorphous orange mass that I used to stare at for hours in my parents’ Lava Lamp from the Seventies.

 

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The older examples were richer in colour which reminded me of a nasturtium orange …

 

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My last images were taken on our walk back through the young Walnut trees, where the new landowner has been keeping cattle. He has ruined the magical views of our beloved orchards but the manure had attracted what I believe to be Ink Cap Mushrooms.

 

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My final shot was taken by the edge of the chestnut coppice, where this solitary mushroom stood still proud and defiant amongst the fallen leaves as it began to decay …

 

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I had a thoroughly fascinating and relaxing time shooting the fungi and felt a real part of the autumnal countryside. I am  pleased with my images of them and the session has given me some invaluable technical experience with the 5D for macro photography. I think that I will invest in – or make myself – a beanbag support for future shoots, as this would certainly help with camera stability and positioning.

My overriding memory of the morning will definitely be one of a ‘Magical Kingdom’ – and how I must make sure that I keep visiting the Orchards despite the barriers that we have been faced with. It should have always remained a place for the villagers to share – and I am not prepared to live without its natural beauty and serenity …

 

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6 thoughts

    • I find them fascinating, especially the fact that it is so tricky to know whether a particular one is edible or deadly poisonous ! They are a very attractive subject to photograph, especially because of the time of year that they fruit – I love the Autumn woodland colours. Also, they are not easy to focus on successfully, so that gives me a challenge. Our photography group ‘homework’ for this month is to produce some autumnal leaf/fungi images – so Lisa and I should be well prepared …

  1. Pingback: Fungi | Quiet Dear, I'm Blooming Within

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