Toadstool #2

This toadstool was growing on top of a log, under dense overhead foliage. It was a mostly sunny day and there was a light breeze blowing the tree canopy around. So the sunlight filtering through the canopy was difficult to work with.
To illuminate the subject, I used a DIY reflector. I waited to where the breeze stopped blowing the tree canopy around and I had a spot of bright sunlight filter through the leaves to the forest floor.
With the diameter of the log, I wasn’t able to get close to the subject with the equipment I had. I knew at the time of shooting I would have to crop and this photo is cropped quite a bit.

Specific Feedback Requested

This is my first time submitting and if I do things correctly there are two photos. Same photo, cropped differently. My basic question is about cropping. Which is better? I like the photo with more space around the subject. But does that leave too much space? The ratio is 4:6.
Also what are your thoughts about the sharpness of the subject. Is the softness of the stem too much? Given the lighting conditions, stacking was next to impossible.
All CC on the photo is welcomed.

Technical Details

f11 | 1/4s | ISO 100 | 100mm Canon 5D IV with a EF100mm macro lens. Processed using ACR and Photoshop.


Welcome to the NPN community, David. This is a wonderful place to connect with like minded photographers. The platform of give and take of photos is outstanding. There are plenty of experienced photographers who are very helpful and your comments and suggestions are also encouraged.
As to your photo, it is lovely . The detail in the dome of the mushroom is nicely done. And the lighting is soft enough is enhance the detail and create a wonderful glow feel. As to the crop, I tend to prefer the cropped version as it brings the mushroom closer to view, while still leaving enough of the environment. But that just me.
This is a great first post and we look forward to more of images.

Welcome, David! This is a very nice capture to introduce yourself. I really like the first, with its magic light and lovely setting, but then I scrolled down and love the second even more, for the reasons @linda_mellor gave. The work with the lighting really paid off.

You might even get an ID of this here, although LBM (little brown mushroom) is commonly accepted. I think there are quite a variety of LBMs.

Hi and welcome to NPN, David. Great first post and I’m glad you figured out it does go here in Flora. Really it should be Flora and Fungi, but that would be too long. If it grows it goes. You are fine with posting a few different versions of a photo in the same post - this often can help you work through some decision making when it comes to processing. Different angles, crops, lighting situations, exposure and focus settings - all part of how we evaluate and decide which photos to work with and which to bin. Keep it to one post per day per category and you’re set.

I like your composition and use of the changing light. I’ve done the same thing, sat waiting with the remote shutter for just the right moment. Kudos for doing that. Using a reflector for these is also a great way to bounce some light where needed. That said I think that there is some pixilation and banding going on in the background/OOF areas. Sometimes it’s a result of compression when creating a jpeg and sometimes its overzealous sharpening and/or inadequate noise reduction. I don’t mind the soft stem for this shot since it doesn’t have much detail and you have plenty of that in the cap. Looks like you just got the closest part of it sharp, but you can always take a few photos using different focus points and blend them together using a dedicated image stacking software like Zerene or Photoshop can do it as well if you just have a handful of photos.

Using f/11 works, but if you have some with smaller apertures, I’d be curious to see how the background looked compared to this. Again, you could blend a really OOF background shot with a deeper DOF shot of the mushroom and see how that works. These days I do a lot of focus bracketing with mushrooms and then I stack in Zerene for the final image. With mirrored cameras this is harder to do in the field, but you could give it a try.

In terms of crop, I like the wider view and proportions, but could see it coming in just a little bit on each end. From the right to eliminate those two bright bits of moss down in the middle and from the left to eliminate that tiny bit of moss on the edge. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference.

Anyway…enough from me. Congrats again on figuring out where mushroom photos go. My portfolio of mushroom images grows every year and I’m impossible to hike with during mushroom season. Looking forward to seeing what other LBMs you come up with or even ones you can ID.

Btw, I did try to ID this, but failed with 4 books and the internet. So goes mushroom ID a lot of the time. :laughing:

Thank you everyone for your help! It means a lot to get feed back that will improve my photography.
I compared the the jpeg image posted to my psd image and the banding you see is from converting to jpeg. I don’t see any banding in the psd.
I understand what you’re saying about the stem. Your insight is valuable to me for evaluating some of my other photos.
I checked my archives and I don’t have a photo taken with a smaller aperture. I’m not sure why I didn’t focus stack this photo. It was probably because getting a consistent reflected light was so difficult and I don’t have the patience I was did. (Why I don’t shoot bugs) I have added to my equipment since this shot. First, I have a focusing rail. Second, I have a sustainable continuous light source.
I understand what you’re saying about the edges of my photo. I was so focused on the thirds rule that I didn’t look at the edges. Where do you stand on cloning artifacts out instead of cropping?

Glad to be of help. I’m a crazy mushroom photographer so there’s nothing I love more than seeing other people’s work. I was in the woods for a few hours today taking more 'shroom shots. Stacked and singles, natural light and an LED panel. Even found a snail that apparently died while trying to do yoga or something. Crazy.

I have no issues with cloning away distractions. Especially if they weren’t possible to remove in the field or if cropping wrecks the ratios. If you’d rather clone, clone away!

I definitely like the tighter crop. When I first saw the image I couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong as the light looked really good. The crop, though, seems to have strengthened the image considerably.

This upload is edited with all of the suggestions made. I thank all of you for your help.

1 Like