On the Forest Floor

After all of the recent rainfall, the ground in Swithland woods was well soaked aiding  the decay of fallen branches and summer plant life, giving rise to an autumn  flourish of rich new mosses and fungi. So it was off to the woods to see what I could find of interest to photograph. Much of the new growth is both small in size and well hidden among the detritus of the forest floor, so it was a case of getting on my knees and moving very very slowly so as not to crush anything under foot.

My usual approach is to go to a spot I knew had fungi on previous occasions, visually mark out an area just a few meters square, and concentrate just on that spot, as its surprising just what you can find if you look carefully enough and taking your time. The ground is dark at the best of times, but being wet and under overhanging branches, even darker than normal, so having a torch would have been an advantage, but I had no torch! Within a few minutes my eyes adjusted to the dim light and I started spotting areas of interest, several patches of black a few inches across, with what looked like something growing on them. On careful inspection these patches turned out to be the remains of rotted fungi which turn black in the final stages of decomposition, before finally literally melting back into the ground. Being rich in nutrients, so a fertile spot for new growth, several different species of fungi had started germinating. On one example I found three distinct species that were obvious, but closer scrutiny may well reveal more.

Sticking to just a tripod mounted Nikon D810 camera with cable release, and a Nikkor 24-70mm lens allowed me to move around quite easily without being hampered with lots of heavy equipment. The lens, although not a macro still allowed me to focus reasonably close to the subject, and with 36 megapixels to play with, cropping the final image would not be a problem.

Here are a few examples of what I found on the ground as well as on two tree stumps in the same area. Looking at the size of the acorns will give an indication of how small some of the fungi were. In retrospect I would have been better off using a macro lens and ring flash, to add a little extra light, for some of the smaller specimens, so that’s more than enough reason for another visit!


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