While exploring the grounds of Hopeland Gardens looking for magnolia seed pods, I discovered a group of mushrooms that were growing out of a stump that had been cut during the spring. I had inspected the stump earlier in the year (when the saw dust was still fresh) looking for stump art that Mother Nature may have hidden inside the tree, but didn’t find anything. I loved how tightly they were packed together in a relatively small area, and, because of that, my artistic goal was to fill the frame with as many of the mushrooms as I could. I worked several angles and produced many other compositions (some of which are available as stock only pieces) before creating Toadstools. Though serendipitous, I also like how their sizes decrease from top to bottom and left to right. The high level of detail allows tiny hairs and texture to be seen.
NOTE: I hope my regular readers and those who know the difference will forgive my placement of mushrooms into the Flora category. I know that they aren’t technically considered flora, but I don’t currently have a fungi category, so for now, that’s where they fall in my website’s structure.
I discovered the interesting little scene in my Tree Dwellers piece growing on the side of a limb on one of the large, old trees in Hopeland Gardens. I was actually searching for interesting looking moss when the tiny mushroom caught my eye. It was so small that I wanted to get a better look at it through the macro rig lens, and, as soon as I did, I felt that it would make a very nice subject for a composition. I positioned the mushroom so that the leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, nearly bisected it, and then vertically I brought it down a little bit below the center of the frame to keep it from being too neat and tidy. Artistically I wanted the tiny leaves or blades on the moss to be as sharp as they could be across the entire frame, so I used focus stacking to increase the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows tiny hairs and textures to be seen.
The cool looking design in my Puffed piece is the surface of a puffball mushroom at two times life-size. I found it near the butterfly bush on the backside of the Aiken County Historical Museum. I have to admit that curiosity, more than anything else, attracted me to the subject. I simply wondered what the surface looked like and, after having put the lens on it, discovered that a neat abstract pattern existed. It’s covered in tiny little groups of fibers that look like hair mountains with gaps between them that create the zigzag channels. The hair mountains have brown caps that appear to be singed like someone took a hot flame or a blow torch and ran it across the entire area causing them to melt and coalesce.
I loved how the light was filtering through the layers and creating an orange tone in my Smoked piece. I discovered these mushrooms growing on a tree in Hopeland Gardens near the spot where all the green tree frogs were found earlier in the year. There were quite a few of them sprouting at various heights and in different areas. I walked around the tree checking compositions and framings until I was sure that I wanted to create with this group.
It seemed to have quite a lot of visible particles and/or dirt on the surfaces so I blew on it to try to remove some of the debris (as I’ve previously posted, I normally like to clean subjects in the field). This thing had a ton of bugs inside it and they started pouring out of every nook and cranny. Ants, maggot looking worms, flies, and who knows what else. I was quite surprised by how many bugs steadily streamed past me, but it must have something that they want or need. Or maybe they just liked it because it was stinky and smelled like it was rotten. It took a couple of times to expel the fragments and each time progressively fewer bugs emerged.
I wasn’t able to capture the coolest thing that happened. While I was between compositions, it started to emit something that looked like smoke. Likely some type of pollen, the substance was thick enough to where the inside of the mushroom appeared to be on fire.
Frilly was composed using mushrooms from the same group as Smoked. I loved the lacy edges and soft flaps under their surfaces. My artistic goal was to capture the layers of ornate rolls and pleated edges as they wind their way across the frame.