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Photographing Mushrooms with a Mobile Phone

Photographing mushrooms

Mushrooms are fascinating subjects for nature photographers, especially in autumn when they are abundant and diverse. However, photographing mushrooms can be challenging, as they are often small, low to the ground, and surrounded by clutter. In this blog post, I’ll share some tips on how to photograph mushrooms with a mobile phone, using its built-in camera app and some accessories.

1. Find a good location

Multi-lens photo of a woodland
Beanley Wood – a good location for photographing mushrooms

Look for mushrooms in moist and shady areas, such as forests, parks, or gardens. You can use a mushroom identification app to help you find and name different species of fungi. Be careful not to damage or disturb the mushrooms or their habitat.

2. Choose a low angle

Try to avoid shooting from above, as this can often make the mushroom look flat and boring.

Photo of fly agaric photographed from above
Fly agaric photographed from above – a bit boring!

To capture the shape and texture of the mushroom cap, you need to get down to its level. You can use a tripod or a beanbag to stabilise your phone on the ground or hold it with your hand as close as possible.

Low angle photo of a fly agaric fungus
A low angle is generally more interesting

3. Use natural light

The best time to photograph mushrooms is early morning or late afternoon, when the light is soft and warm. Avoid direct sunlight, as it will create harsh shadows and highlights. You can also use a reflector or a diffuser to modify the light and create a more even exposure.

Close up photo of common earthball fungus
Common earthball photographed using natural light diffused by the canopy of trees

4. Control the depth of field

To isolate the mushroom from the background, you need to create a shallow depth of field. You can do this by using the Portrait mode on your phone, which will blur the background and make the mushroom stand out. Alternatively, you can use a third-party app that allows you to manually adjust the aperture and focus.

Common inkcap in domestic lawn
Inkcap isolated from background by controlling depth of field (the background is blurred)

5. Compose your shot

Think about how to arrange the elements in your frame to create a pleasing composition. You can use the rule of thirds, leading lines, negative space, or symmetry to guide your eye. You can also experiment with different perspectives, such as front view, side view, or backlit view.

Photo of mushrooms with a 'rule of thirds' grid overlaid on it
Photograph composed according to the ‘rule of thirds’

6. Edit your photo

To enhance your mushroom photo, you can use the editing tools in your phone’s Photos app or a third-party app like Snapseed or Lightroom. You can crop, rotate, straighten, adjust exposure, contrast, colour, sharpness, and more. You can also apply filters or pre-sets to create different moods and styles.

Photo of three scarlet elf cups on a dead log surrounded by moss
Original photo of scarlet elf cups with too much out-of-focus moss in the foreground: overall, the image feels too ‘busy’
The same photo tightly cropped and with contrast adjusted and noise reduced

Happy picturing

I hope these tips will help you take better photos of mushrooms with your phone. Mushrooms are beautiful and intriguing organisms that deserve our attention and respect. Happy picturing!

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