Rodney Campbell's Blog

Amanita Muscaria…

by on May.15, 2015, under Life, Photography

When I was last up at Mount Wilson shooting autumn colour a number of years ago I’d found these fantastic magical toadstools growing on the side of the road. If ever there was a definition of a mystical fairy glen it would be surrounded with these Amanita Muscaria (or Fly Agaric) fungi.

One of the amazing things about these fungi are how large they are. The ones I took images of here are perhaps just a couple to ten centimetres across but last time I was here I found this enormous one just about large enough for my youngest daughter at the time to sit on like a real fairy stool.

Faerie Glen

Faerie Glen

NIKON D750 + 90.0 mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm, 1/50 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 x 18 Frames

So as I was heading to Mount Wilson again to shoot fall colour I packed my macro lens on the chance I would get to find and shoot some of these beauties once again.

So as Deb and I were leaving Mount Wilson at the end of an interesting morning of shooting colour and waterfalls I stopped once again on the side of the road where I’d found these a couple of years back. Once again that same stretch of grass and trees held these amazing little beauties.

This time however with new found skills I’ve taken a sequence of manually adjusted frames for later focus stacking. For all of these final images I’ve:
– locked my camera down on a tripod with my chosen composition.
– placed my large (about 1m wide) trigrip diffuser panel over the fungi and the area behind it to provide a nice soft wash of even light.
– placed my camera bag between the sun and the grass behind in the background so as to shadow the area more to naturally darken the background.
– then in manual exposure mode I’ve taken a sequence of shots each time slightly adjusting the focus ring on the macro lens to shift the focus in slices through the Amanita Muscaria fungi – I start with the focus slightly in front of the closest part of the fungi and move in tiny steps all the way through to just past the furthest point I want in focus.
– later in post processing I do some minor synchronised adjustments to the frames and then focus stack the images and with some touchups afterwards for any errors in stacking we have these final results.

The first image above is a focus stack of eighteen (18) images and was my favourite toadstool find (thankyou Deb).

The image below is a focus stack of twenty eight (28) frames.

Amanita Muscaria

Amanita Muscaria

NIKON D750 + 90.0 mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm, 1/80 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 x 28 Frames

To give you an idea what sort of a difference focus stacking can make to the final result below is an image taken stopped way down to f/45.

NIKON D750 + 90.0 mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm, 1.3 sec at f/45, ISO 100

This single image taken stopped way down to f/45 gives good depth of field which almost but not quite covers the Amanita Muscaria toadstool. It’s nice but you can also see that the background is unbelievably distracting and messy. The focus stacked version gives you a nice sharper image right across the subject whilst also giving you that sweet smooth background blur (bokeh) equivalent of shooting with a much more open aperture (like f/5.6 in this case).

Lastly this was actually the first Amanita Muscaria we found and shot this day – a larger older specimen which was getting past it’s prime.

Faerie Bite

Faerie Bite

NIKON D750 + 90.0 mm f/2.8 @ 90 mm, 1/50 sec at f/6.3, ISO 100 x 20 Frames

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