Selection of September 2018: Mysterious Porcelain Mushroom by Johan van der Wielen

Mysterious Porcelain Mushroom by Johan van der Wielen

The picture of the Mysterious Porcelain Mushroom was taken in the National Park Utrechtse Heuvelrug in the Netherlands. It was a rainy dark day when I went searching for this specific mushroom; I knew the place where they grow. I went there a couple of days earlier but had to wait for the right light (I needed a dark grey day) and the mushrooms to develop a perfect shape. These mushroom grow on the wood of dead beeches and I found this group on a fallen branch, the perfect spot for the image I had in mind.

Because the mushroom were a little higher from the ground, I was able to place my flash with softbox behind the branch to enlighten the mushrooms from below, to emphasise the mysterious atmosphere and to be able to photograph the beautiful slats of the mushrooms. I tried several different framings and compositions, even portrait, but because the ‘open’ space around this group is more on the left I decided to place them on the right side of the image. I underexposed the picture to get rid of the background, to emphasise the atmosphere, as well as to make the mushrooms more impressive. The tiny rain drops lit up thanks to the flash and I added extra ‘rain’ with a water spray. When everything was set, it was also a bit of luck to get the right amount of spray as well as the right shape. The wind helped to spread the spray and created beautiful forms in both natural and artificial rain. I took approximately 300 pictures of this same setting and only one was perfect in my opinion, with the right shape and amount of ‘rain’ in the background. It had the feel of the Milky Way.

I didn’t do much of postprocessing. In the field, I already set the white balance to cold, to get the feel of the blue hour. Further I decreased the highlights because some parts of the mushrooms looked a little overexposed due to the flash. I added some contrast and some local contrast to emphasize the ‘rain’ drops. Just a little cropping was done afterwards, from both right and below.

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