I learnt that throughout Europe there is evidence that fungi are declining in both variety and numbers. However it is only more recently that serious consideration has been given to the need for the conservation of fungi. Mycorrhizal species and fungi with specialised habitats tend to suffer the most. Decline seems to be the result of several factors, the most obvious being habitat loss. These losses tend to be the result of changes in land use and agricultural improvement. With this knowledge I hope that my work will encourage more people to admire the curious world of fungi and perhaps encourage them to protect it.
I researched several professional photographers who inspired this project... Martin Pfister is a wildlife photographer from Southern Germany, who was key in my research. His imagery focuses on being expressive, using special perspectives, lighting and processing techniques. The often-dramatic lighting in his photographs emphasizes the amazing textures of the fungi as well as their vivid surroundings. Martin Pfister inspired me to use refreshingly creative and unique ways to photograph fungi. Using artificial lighting from tiny LED’s I was able to emphasize amazing textures on fungi and make them stand out in vivid surroundings. My final print of a Fairy Inkcap mushroom surrounded by autumn leaves makes use of subtle lighting, to draw attention to the subject.
Norwegian artist Andreas Lie creates subtle double exposures, combining wild landscapes with photographs of animals. His work has been recognised internationally, most notably with the series “Norwegian Wood” that merges portraits of Norwegian animals with the landscapes in which they live. His work demonstrates a deep appreciation for the natural world, and the animals within it. He inspired me to try something completely new, using double exposures to show living landscapes within the outline of fungi. In conservation it is important to focus of ecosystems rather than just individual species and his work demonstrates this well. Giving the impression the animals are at one with their habitats and rely on the natural balance and systems within it to survive. My final double exposure images demonstrate the relationship between fungi and their environment. The outline of a mushroom is filled in by a forest landscape, a habitat that relies on fungi to survive.
Misja Smits is an incredibly creative and artistic nature photographer, who has inspired a lot of my own photographic work and style. Since 2002 she has focused entirely on nature photography. She has specialized in macro subjects, including fungi, which makes her work particularly relevant for my project. She has a good understanding of colour, detail and composition in photography. By using wide apertures to blur colourful surroundings she is able to create mystical images. Her work has won several awards in international nature photography competitions including the European Nature Photographer of the Year. I decided to achieve a similar effect in my own photographic work by using fallen leaves overlapping the camera lens to isolate the subject. The use of leaves achieves a creative effect in a natural way.
During this project I learnt a lot about the biology of fungi and have been able to explore their uses and importance using a wide range of resources. I even had the opportunity to meet with the lead ranger at National Trust’s Lanhydrock on a fungi tour, which enabled me to gain a lot of local knowledge about species present there and around Cornwall.