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Photo by Steve Ness



Poking about iNaturalist reveals fungi photos of varying quality, so let’s march down a quick list of how to shine as mushroom paparazzi:


  • Practice with the technology before setting out. Whether it’s a cell phone or a camera, take time to master close ups, flash settings and burst options.

  • Learn to brace before “shooting.” This may mean steadying an elbow on a log or using a finger or the wrist to anchor to the ground. 

  • Think about base stability. A squatting photographer is perched over two feet (okay, some of these are large) but a kneeling photographer or a prone photographer has a bigger and more stable base. Preparing for base stability may mean tossing knee pads or a ground cloth into the daypack. 

  • Consider adding a mini-tripod and remote-control camera clicker to your gear.  This lets you stage the shot with the smart phone on a tripod and then use the Bluetooth clicker to take the picture. No more focus loss due to a finger pushing on the smart phone! carries an affordable pair made by Zodiac

  • Learn the power of “photo hygiene.” This is where a photographer learns to make the subject shine by attending to light, shadows, background, depth of field and visual clutter. Learn about the magic of photo hygiene here:

  • Take the glamor shots first. Capture the fungus in its natural setting (usually a side view) before handling the fungus to show gills or other attributes. 

  • Take LOTS of pictures. The beauty of digital is that there’s no additional processing costs, so take pictures from the side, from ground level up, and from multiple vectors. 

  • Share the camera or phone or ask for back up photos from others as other eyes may capture different details. 

  • Scroll through and review your collection of photos before you heave yourself to a standing position. This is a good time to find the surprises, which might be:  a) Whoops, forgot to take a gill shot; b) Wow, a white fungus can look like a snowball with pores and striations disappearing; c) Huh? There’s another mushroom photobombing the mushroom that’s supposed to be star; and d) For Pete’s Sake. There’s an inch of index finger in each photo. 

  • Most important of all is the BOC (Beverage of Choice) at home. Sip the BOC while reviewing the day’s photos. Celebrate the effort. Eventually one will also celebrate the results.