Wet Woodland Stacking

There was no problem of finding Swithland Woods too dry today after the heavy downpour of Tuesday afternoon and evening. My usual shortcut across the field into the woods was barred due to a foot of thick churned up mud around the stile I usually cross, courtesy of the bullocks standing around it, giving me an opportunity to discover a new entry point into the woodland.  Once inside it was just as wet with most pathways having been turned into small muddy streams, but stepping off them meant I sank ankle deep into a thick mulch of rotting leaves but still preferable to the mud! Barring a lack of associated heat you could have mistaken the atmosphere to be that of a tropical jungle, with moisture everywhere.

The UP side was that the rain had promoted a new growth of fungi, some in the very early stages of development. A few minutes searching and I discovered a large, well rotted fallen tree, with several clumps of fresh fungi on its surface and within its bowels. These were in both large and small groups, but all well hidden beneath a covering of thorny brambles and stinging nettles. Having found my subjects I very gingerly began to clear a path for the camera, easier said than done as they were out to get me, with some broken thorns still embedded in my fingers and nettle rash stinging! Path cleared, the camera and tripod were set up on the very unstable ground, and I focused on the largest and most accessible group of fungi. I connected the laptop last, as drops of water was still falling off the overhanging branches.

Having taken several stacked series of images on different parts of the tree, and being forced to shoot in less than ideal lighting conditions, I began to notice the technical limitations of a c. 2008 Canon 5D Mk II and what information it is capable of capturing. Even shooting in RAW, but under-exposing in order to maintain a degree of detail in the highlights, the shadows were becoming very dark and beyond what the camera was able to record without generating shadow noise. Fill in flash could have been an option but with so many beads of water around, it would have produced a myriad of glowing highlights. HDR would be my usual choice, but the ground was far too unstable for adding so many extra exposures without encountering some camera movement. As is was I ended up scrapping a proportion of my stacked sets due to the camera moving, even noticeable on the laptop screen during the shooting process.

A iPhone shot of my setup.

01

Another iPhone shot showing the general environment of the fungi within the rotting tree. It clearly shows the contrast issues faced between the deep shadows and the bright fungi.

04

In the end I did manage to capture a few images that were acceptable and showed the environment off reasonably well.

 

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