I joined some friends on the west coast (of New Zealand) near Greymouth last weekend mainly to put the camera back in my hands. They were going in search of the blue fungi. I still have no idea what the Latin name is, nor am I all that fussed about knowing it. I figured it would be a 50/50 chance to find one, then we'd have to stand in line to photograph it. How wrong I was!
We arrived at the location (which shall remain secret until pried out with some good single malt) and fanned out in search. Some folks dropped in on little yellow ones and a flowery white one straight away. I was in no hurry, so I set down my two bags of gear, one camera kit and the other full of lighting stuff, on the trail and wandered in to the unbeaten areas. It took about 15 minutes, but I saw a felled tree covered in the type of moss these little beauties are said to grow on. I made my way through the mud and around the far side and saw the absolute gem. It was perched up about 2 feet off the ground and stood alone. The challenge was on!
I've shot macro stuff before and I quite enjoy it. After being told by 2 or 3 companions that this was the best specimen they had ever seen, the pressure to do a good job began to mount. White umbrellas came out to diffuse the sunlight. Live view was turned on to focus. Tripod was inched and nudged and tightened repeatedly. Exposure settings were checked and double-checked. Timer delay mode and mirror lock up (what passes for it in the D90 anyway) were engaged. Between 90 minutes and 2 hours later, I had the first shot (the one on the left). I then yielded to others who wanted their version of my first blue toadstool.
We came back the next day because the blues were plentiful. I set up from the side on the same one. While 3 or 4 photographers took their pass at the same shot I worked the day before, I began setting up my own lights. Two umbrellas, a couple of speedlights, some radio remote triggers and 2 more hours of nudging and focusing later… the second image (the one on the right) was done. I figured I should get an environmental shot as well, so a final 90 minutes was spent on the center image.
Five or six hours to get three photos of one blue mushroom. I loved every second of it; not because it was a blue mushroom, but because it was a challenge. This reminded me how much I enjoy the problem solving nature of making a good photograph. There is certainly room for improvement and things I would do differently, but those little aspects don't detract from my enjoyment of the experience or final result one iota.