It’s amazing what you can find on, in or under a log. I have a small pile of rotting wood at the bottom of my garden and, together with a few excursions to a nearby wood, I have found enough material here to keep me happily taking photographs for the last week or so. Fungi are the most obvious subjects at this time of year but there are plenty of others. Some are very small and my 65 MP-E lens has never been so busy. The only other lenses used for the images shown was my 90mm tilt and shift lens for the avenue of beech trees (unnecessary probably but it happened to be the right focal length for where I was stood) and my 180mm macro for all the larger fungi. A 17 – 40mm lens came in handy for some “fungi in habitat” type shots but these are not part of this article. To complete the picture, if you’ll excuse the pun, I also downloaded the Pro version of Helicon Focus and have made good use of this excellent programme, exploring parts of it that I had not used before. The retouching function is brilliant.
The first photo is a scene-setter – some early morning mist along a little-used road in the Peak District en route to some fungus-hunting. Logs of the future!
Early morning mist along a small country road.
First of the macro shots is a pair of small “bonnets”, Mycena, with a small amount of flash to give some rim and back-lighting in an otherwise shady situation.
Mycena species, probably M. galericulata
These pink balls are the fruiting bodies of a slime mould belonging to the genus Lycogala, known, for reasons that completely escape me, as Wolf’s Milk, which appeared on the surface of a moss-covered log as if from nowhere and then quickly turned brown and shed its spores. The images were made just two days apart.
Wolf’s milk, the fruiting bodies of a slime mould, Lycogala epidendrum or Lycogala terrestre (the two species are indistinguishable at this stage).
Wolf’s milk, two days later.
On the same log, but a few feet further along was this group of Glistening Inkcap, a common but attractive fungus that can be found over a longish period of time.
Mica cap, shiny cap, or glistening inky cap fungus, Coprinellus micaceus, sharing a beech log with the Wolf’s Milk shown above
The Pale Stagshorn Fungus was growing on the same log as the two other species of stagshorns: Small Stagshorn and Orange Stagshorn. The pale species is the smallest and required the 65 MP-E lens and a stack of 11 exposures.
Pale Stagshorn fungus, Calocera pallidospathulata,
The Stump Puffball was growing exactly where you would expect it to be – on a stump. An easy enough photograph to take providing you don’t mind kneeling in boggy ground for a few minutes.
Stump puffball, Lycoperdon pyriforme
Another slime mould, this time a group of miniscule fruiting bodies belonging to the species Trichia decipiens. I found two clusters of these this year, one about six miles from home and the other on my garden wood pile. This is where the 65 MP-E lens, set to its maximum 5X, and Helicon Focus, were absolutely indispensible. The image consists of 40 individual stacked frames.
Fruiting bodies of a slime mould, Trichia decipiens
The photo of the underside of the cap of Suede Bolete was made from a specimen that had toppled over, at about 4X life-size and using a stack of 11 exposures. The bolete fungi shed their spores through honey-comb-like pores, whereas most other species, including the edible mushroom of course, have radiating gills.
Pores on the underside of the cap of a Suede Bolete, Boletus subtomentosus
Finally, lurking under a sliver of wood from my log-pile and discovered while I was searching for more fungi and slime moulds, was this harvestman, photographed at between 3X and 4X and using a stack of 13 images. It is a common British species, Ophilio saxatilis. Like all harvestmen, it has no English name. A tiny springtail managed to get in on the act.
Ophilio saxatilis, a common British harvestman.
A final plug, for a book that I bought to help me identify some of the fungi: “Collins Complete Guide to Mushrooms and Toadstools” by Paul Sterry and Barry Hughes. Not only does it contain photographs of 1500 different species of fungi but also has sections on habitats and an introduction to their biology. There is even a page on slime moulds; well worth the money if you spend any amount of time looking at logs!