November Mushrooms

November Mushrooms

13×33 prints are $1,500
20×50 prints are $3,000

In the autumn of 2006 Ruth and I went on a cross country photo trip in our camper van, traveling 9,500 miles in one month. We returned at the end of October and I began making Cibachrome prints of some of the new photographs.

I was leaving my studio at the end of a long day in the darkroom when right in front of my building I saw this group of mushrooms beneath a large Japanese lace leaf maple tree. I could see a great panoramic composition in the scene but the lighting was drab and flat.

I brought out my camera the next morning on November 18. The early morning light was much better so I set up my 8×10 camera, using it in panoramic mode where I can take two 4×10 photos on one piece of 8×10 film. I used my 210mm Super Symmar HM lens, using the swings and tilts of the view camera to bring the image into sharp focus.

I then waited and watched until the morning sunlight was almost hitting the composition on the right side. The warm reflected sunlight provided oblique side lighting on the mushrooms. The light was directional but not harsh and highlighted the texture in the dried leaves and the shape and roundness of the tiny mushrooms. Perfect. I had time to take two exposures, each at f/32 for 2 seconds on Velvia 50 film.

Making Cibachrome prints with the right balance between drama and subtlety was a challenge but I am extremely pleased with the final results. There’s so much to see in this image that for me it transcends the subject matter. To me the dried leaves look more like swirling flames and the scattered mushrooms a constellation of stars. We have a framed 20×50” print of this image in our home. I am constantly amazed at its beauty.

Format: Panoramic (horizontal)
Location: Oregon
Reference key: nm