When I woke up the blinds were bright. I had a peek outside and was thrilled to see there was a frost clinging to the grass. I hurried into clothes and headed out into the garden. It had been a full year since my last frost and I was eager to capture some macro photos again. Leaves, twigs and thistles were all coated in a fine layer of silver crystals that, when hit by the sun, twinkled and shone like last night’s stars. Soon I had wet knees from crouching in the grass and the beginnings of a crick in my neck from getting as close as possible. My plan was to crop the photos in to create a repeating abstract texture. As usual, I took far more than I probably needed.
After relaxing for a while in the bothy I headed out again, down one hill and up the next. I passed the tyre swing, but the lack of decent light meant the shots weren’t quite what I imagined. I knew I had to photograph the bright yellow and orange larches that had taken my breath away on the drive in yesterday. Unfortunately the sun that I’d wanted to shine was well and truly concealed behind thick clouds; the light was so diluted I could gaze in its direction without difficulty. However, when I began to shoot, the rusty warm hues still popped. I began to experiment with positioning individual subjects like stray grasses in front of the camera, so the trees bled together and created a vibrant background.
The rest of the day was spent writing beside the fire and recording what I’d seen during the day. I had a sneaky look at my photos so far and was pleased with some of the outcomes. Hopefully there’d be more opportunities on our last day tomorrow.
It’s soon to be prime fungi season and I can’t wait to see what will start to emerge over the next few months. I find identifying fungi a real challenge, and recently I’ve mainly been interested in tracking fungi and photographing it. As with all wildlife though, I think every photographer should know exactly what it is they’re pointing the camera at. So, after consulting the “Fungi Bible” – otherwise known as the Collins Fungi Guide – I made my best guesses at what species I’d seen. Then, I consulted with a local fungi expert in my area, and was pleased to discover I’d got most of them right!
Here is a selection of the species I’ve seen so far, some in Carlisle where I’m studying and others at home in Hertfordshire. Hopefully this list will triple in size during the autumn!
It was looking like another gorgeous day. As we walked along the harbour yesterday, I couldn’t help noticing how inviting the forest running alongside the beach looked. Stretching for over seven hundred hectares, Roseisle Forest was a stunningly beautiful pinewood. As we made our way up the slope between the first row of trees, sand dunes transformed to mounds of fallen pine needles and the sound of the ocean soon faded into silence.
A wide trodden path snaked between the trees. I was on the lookout for fungi, so we headed off-road and ventured up the hills, giving us a great vantage point over the forest below. Before long, a sudden sparkle caught my eye, and I was amazed to discover that a spider had strung its web between two trees several metres apart. Luckily the sunlight had caught the web; otherwise we may have walked straight through it. We spent the next twenty minutes photographing our spider – it was a real challenge trying to get him in focus as the web swayed to and fro in the breeze, which must have felt like a gale to the spider. If you zoom in on the photo of Kerr, you can see a brown dot a few inches in front of his camera, showing just how tiny the little hunter was.
Soon, it became clear that Roseisle Forest was abundant with a medium-sized, red-capped mushroom that had faded to pink with age. After consulting the Burghead guide back at the cottage, I discovered that mushrooms in the Russula group, otherwise known as Brittlegills, were common here. After checking out the various species I identified this fungus as Sickener (Russula emetica), a poisonous species associated with pine woodland. This mushroom is found in groups and is most common in late summer to early autumn, perhaps explaining why the ones we saw weren’t the bright red colour of their prime.
After finding dozens more Sickener mushrooms and spending a long time crawling on the forest floor photographing them, we headed back out onto the beach. We met up with my parents and Jasmine, who was whipping up a small sandstorm in her excitement. By this point my stomach was rumbling after the walk in Roseisle, so we headed to lunch and ate outside in the stunning sunshine.
First uni assignment is finished! It’s been a real learning curve creating a vlog; for me the main challenge was addressing everything I wanted to cover in under two minutes. It’s true that it’s a lot easier to make a long film than a short one. Still, I’m pleased with what I’ve achieved and above all, I’ve learned a thing or two about both Adobe editing software Premiere Pro, and also kit used for filming. As a photography gal, I’ve often shied away from filming due to a lack of both interest and skill. But, by adopting a casual, vlog approach, I’ve been able to experiment without the daunting prospect of producing a full feature length.
The task was to produce a two minute vlog on a photographer of our choosing, then take three photos inspired by their work. The whole process was to be filmed, from research to final edits. This was easier said than done when you were only given 120 seconds for said masterpiece.
My chosen photographer was Albert Renger Patszch, a German artist whose prime era was 1920s and 30s. His work was incredibly striking and caught my eye instantly, so I knew I wanted to explore his life and work in depth.
After swatting up on Renger-Patzsch I got down to the business of taking my own photos. I knew I wanted to do macro photography, a style I’d only used rarely up till now. So, I checked out a macro lens from the uni store and set about finding something to take. After a while I found the sea urchin shell I’d kept from the Isle of Carna, and thought I could really go to town with colour and texture. I then went on a hunt for other natural trinkets and collected a discarded conker shell from the park and a scrap of really intricate moss from the garden. I’d found my three subjects.
Conker Shell Monster
I wanted to photograph insignificant objects that people hardly notice and transform them into something unrecognisable, using a macro style to disguise reality. Renger-Patzsch’s focus was definitive shapes, so I captured this conker shell from a low viewpoint to give the vertical spines a dramatic outline against a blurred background. To do this, I used a small aperture (f/5.0) to isolate a single spine and create depth within such a small space. I kept the rule of thirds in mind and positioned the shell in the bottom third to keep the image balanced.
Sea Urchin Spaceship
In the 1920s, Renger-Patzsch could only photograph in monochrome. This emphasises contrast between shadows and highlights, but I wanted to approach his geometric style with bold colours to achieve a more diverse tonal range. I loved the texture of this sea urchin shell, so I captured a small section in sharp focus, drawing the eye to it. I used a flash to prevent the image from being underexposed, due to the small distance between camera and subject. This diluted the hues slightly, so in post I boosted contrast and increased saturation to make the colours vibrant, giving the image a dramatic edge, emphasised by crisp textures.
Miniature Moss Forest
I found some moss in the garden and wanted to see how it looked up close. Again, I used a relatively fast shutter speed (1/100) and a low aperture to prevent camera shake and give the image a shallow depth of field. Afterwards, I increased the orange hues to accentuate the tiny leaves on the second vertical third line and make it the focal point in the frame. Although I like the leaves’ intricate shapes, the colours are quite monotonous. The busy, repetitive subject matter is similar to Renger-Patzsch’s image “Needles”, but this shot may be more effective with multiple colours.