With the advent of Autumn, a time associated with leaves turning a myriad of golden brown hews, it was an ideal time to re-visit Swithland Woods in search of some autumnal magic. Having had sporadic bouts of rain all week, there was also a good chance of finding some fresh lush green patches of moss, to help contrast with the muted colours of the fallen leaves now littering the forest floor. Unsure just what I would find, I decided to hedge my bets and take out both my ‘go to’ 24-70mm f2.8 + Nikon D810 as well as my Canon 100mm f2.8 IS Macro + 5DMkII setup. Dispensing with tripod and flash helped cut down on the weight, hoping that fewer leaves in the trees would allow more light through. This would have been the case, but for the regular return of grey clouds and intermittent light showers throughout the day!
It didn’t take long to decide that macro was the way to go, as the most interesting range of colours were to be found close to the ground. The strong winds over the summer had brought down numerous trees, which are generally left where they fall by the rangers, unless blocking a major path, in which case they are cut into logs and stacked, then allowed to rot naturally. This minimal approach to forest management has duel benefits, on the one hand the area has a natural and unregimented look, and secondly providing a regular fresh habitat for flora such as mosses and fungi, especially wood decomposing hardy bracket type fungi such as Crust or Turkey Tail that grow in a wide range of earthy colours.
I did attempt some shots but soon realised that a tripod was going to be essential for success, so noting the various locations, I decided to return the next day better equipped for the job in hand. The next day’s weather forecast also predicted overcast conditions, so high contrast would be far less of an issue than lack of depth of field, so no flash to bring, just my Canon macro setup together with the laptop for some image stacking photography. What did fascinate me were the patterns created by lines of Crust fungi growing within the moss cover fallen trees, and the colour combination of Turkey Tail which particularly favor decaying birch logs as a habitat.
Due to the poor lighting conditions, and seeing my results, I would have been much better off bringing along a ring flash or at the very least an LED ring light to add a little sparkle to the fungi. Fortunately as they are so slow growing and having a long life cycle I will have ample opportunity to return and hopefully do a much better job. That is one of the main advantages of photographing for yourself, you are under no pressure to produce a result, so go out, take your time and enjoy your photography!
All were taken at ISO 100, f8, White balance set to ‘Daylight’, RAW format and image stacked.