Porcelain fungus

At this time of year, one of my favourite subjects to encounter and to photograph are fungi. Its hard not to be transported into a fairytale world on meeting the fruiting bodies of fungi, which in some cases can appear overnight. I visit a few favourite patches locally where I know I will encounter parasols, magpie inkcaps, fly agaric and bolettes. But my favourite fungus to greet as summer gives way to autumn, is the porcelain fungus, Oudemansiella mucida, a common mushroom which grows on many of the beech trees in the local woods.

Porcelain fungus, Oudemansiella mucida I

Also known as the poached egg fungus, Beech tuft, or the slimy beech cap, the fungus grows on dead and dying wood. Sometimes found on fallen branches, but often in the canopy, where it looks magical as the light filters through the translucent shiny milk white caps and accentuating the mushrooms gills. It is a perfect subject for photography.

Porcelain fungus, Oudemansiella mucida II

The mushroom is edible but the slimy mucous should first be washed off, the stipe (stem) removed and the mushroom must be cooked. The fungus is common throughout the British Isles, and produces a fungicide which it uses to fend off other fungi to take over dead trees. Whilst it’s beautiful, it’s presence on a living tree probably isn’t a great indicator of health for the tree.

Porcelain fungus, Oudemansiella mucida III

Porcelain fungus can be found on other broadleaf trees, not just the beech, so keep a look out on woodland walks or wanders in park land through late summer into the autumn. With caps from 3-10cm they can be spotted fairly easily.

Porcelain fungus, Oudemansiella mucida IV

I’ve taken these images with a Sony A58 and a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens. Shooting up into the camopy the light above the mushrooms both enhances the gills and the translucence of the fungus, but also creates bokeh as the light filters through the leaves in the canopy above. Shooting wih a wide aperture, and keeping a good distance between your subject and the background will create the best bokeh.

Porcelain fungus, Oudemansiella mucida V

As we head into autumn, I am hoping to add more images of the many different fungi that grow in the local woods to my website. Thanks for visiting and reading.


16 thoughts on “Porcelain fungus

  1. These are wonderful Jo! I too love fungi, and when France was an option at this time of year I’d find some great examples. But it’s how you have composed and lit these shots that make them so magical. More tantalizing templates for me to try and emulate! Your cards arrived last week of flowers and they too are lovely, thank you

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    1. Thanks so much, John. And thanks for buying some cards, I’m so happy you are pleased with them. I imagine there are some amazing fungi in France. These are all taken with natural light, it’s amazing how much it changes from moment to moment standing under the canopy of the trees. Wishing you many happy hours photographing mushrooms!

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    1. Thanks so much, Wendy, I’m enjoying dipping my toes into the world of blogging. I really appreciate the positive feedback!

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    1. Thank you so much, Janet, it’s my pleasure to put them together and I’m delighted you enjoy them. Wishing you a happy Sunday.

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  2. Thanks, that’s so kind, Denise. I use the same techniques as when shooting flowers, so you may find my ethereal nature photography blog useful for some tips and tricks if you’d like to create similar images. 🙂

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  3. Greetings from Canada!
    Your work is most beautiful and impressive!
    I am inspired by your photos and am curious…. do you use photoshop for some of your prints or do you set your camera to take the photos?
    Specifically, the poppy photo was intriguing.
    In your blog you mentioned you scan your cyanotypes. Do you not use the original copy and why not?
    Kind regards,
    Michelle

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  4. Hi Michelle, and thank you. Firstyly, I set the camera, but as I shoot RAW I will develop my images in LR and occasionally PS. For some this may be a little tweak, for others I might play a little to create effects that express best the encounter I will have had wih the plant, fungi or animal. I’m not sure which poppy picture you are referring to, but it may be a multiple exposure? I have to do those in PS as I don’t own a camera with the ability to create the multiple exposure effects I wish to “in-camera” however, it’s all the same software at the end of the day. As regards the cyanotypes, occasionally I may scan them before they are developed as the colours will change and get darker, this allows me to have a digital record of an impermanent state, and I can then use that to create digital composites or use the colours for reference or texture. My original cyanotypes are for sale, but I do not produce or sell prints of these. Thanks, Jo x

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