I have a love/hate relationship with autumn. My arthritis hates the colder weather, but my heart is warmed with falling leaves and fungi! With the beautiful settled weather lately, we've been taking lots of walks in Ōtari-Wilton's Bush and Zealandia. I love fossicking for autumn leaves (even though we mostly have evergreen trees) and finding fungi (the smaller the better). What's your opinion on autumn?
Although there are still many birds to be photographed, instead of wandering around with our eyes searching the skies, we're now getting cricks in our necks looking down in the gloomy shade searching for tiny treasures. And there are so many to find! In just a ten metre stretch on Te Mahanga Track at Zealandia, for instance, there are multitudes of fungi species.
I can't help but anthropomorphize the fungi and cast them as characters - they are so full of personality.
This one reminds me of two parents and the kids, but one is a salty teenager who is embarrassed to be seen in public with them!
"Big Sis - Little Bro"
And these cuties are the spitting image of me and my baby brother! Move the slider back and forth and tell me I'm imagining it!
I call this one "The Wellingtonians" as they have that permanent wind-swept look.
And this one reminds me of Diana Ross and the Supremes. Have I started eating the fungi perhaps? No, I just have a vivid imagination 😂
Fungi are also super-fun to paint. Though doing this one tiny piece "Fungi & Friends at Zealandia"
just about blinded me despite the magnifying glasses and magnifying lamp! This is another of my "observational" mixed-media watercolour doodles where I challenge myself to paint 9 things I've seen on a photo-shoot. This one features fungi seen on recent trips to Zealandia, and of course, there is always a toutouwai friend to help. Not to mention some human ones too! Thanks to Hayley, Janice and Linton for the spotting, sherpa-ing, hints, and company.
All my tiniest brushes, pens, and pencils were put into action for this one, along with some gorgeous handmade sparkly watercolour paints. Even the toutouwai has a sparkly twinkle in his eye 😊. The original has sold, but I'm created limited-edition prints that also have a touch of sparkle.
Fungi photography is a bit of a fiddle. A remote release is really handy (when it works!) and a "styling" kit most helpful (thanks to expert fungi-photographer Hayley May for this gorgeous kit of brushes, tweezers, and other essential items). A tripod that gets low to the ground is essential too, but these Joby ones bounce a lot and can be hard to stabilize. Bring patience and a mat to sit on :)
Photography-wise, fungi are a challenge. They might not fly away so you have plenty of time to set up the shot, but they require very careful focusing and often very long exposures. Waterproof pants for the win - it makes a big difference being able to sit down in the mud rather than kneeling or crouching. And it appeals to my inner five-year-old.
Fungi make the best TinyArt subjects, and I've been making them to order since the first set sold out immediately. Chris dropped off more frames this week too, so if you'd like something special made, sing out.
I've also released some of my favourite fungi photos as fine-art prints, and made a category here for all the originals, prints, and TinyArts so fungi fanatics can find everything in one place!
I do hope you've enjoyed this foray into fungi - do let me know if you'd like to see more!
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Judi Lapsley Miller
Fine art inspired by the stories of birds and the natural world. Starting with photographs, I let my imagination take me on flights of fancy. What is real and what is imagined is blurred. What is physical and what is virtual is disrupted. Bursting with colour and life.
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