Tag Archives: fungi

country lane in black and white

Cee’s Black & White Challenge: A Different Angle

The magic of monochrome first captured my imagination when I was blogging back in 2014. I learned a lot from enjoying the black and white photography of other bloggers and Cee’s Photo Tips and Tricks on black and white photography were really useful too.

Occasionally I’ve tried my hand at the Black & White Challenge to see if I could craft my own black and white creations. This was quite a challenge for me, but also it was fun to learn more, especially about post-processing, which is how I create my black and white images. I’ve added one of my earlier B&W Challenge entries as my header image for this post.

Having recently returned to my blogging, I thought I might revisit black and white photos and create an entry for this week’s challenge. By chance, this week’s theme is an open theme, so that gave me a world of potential subject matter! I think of creating black and white images as ‘taking a different angle’ on photography so I’ve chosen that as the theme for my challenge entry.

Woodland mushroom in black and white
Another take on the woodland mushroom

This woodland mushroom will look familiar to some recent visitors to my blog – I featured my son’s original colour photo in my Fun Foto Challenge entry last week. Thinking about ‘A Different Angle’ brought me straight to this image, as I love the low-level angle of the shot. I decided to re-process it into a black and white image. This gave me the opportunity to re-hone my post-processing skills as I thought about how to best draw out the tones and textures under the mushroom.

Lighthouse from below Black-White
Standing tall above the sea

Lighthouses always make me think of the power of the sea. They are simultaneously synonymous with danger and safety. The colour version of this image also appears in a previous Fun Foto Challenge post on the theme of Perspective (unusual angles), where you can also see the steepness of the steps inside that allow visitors to climb up to the top.

Zig-zag cloudscape in black and white
Zig-zag cloudscape

In this shot, I loved the dramatic zig-zag of light that cuts through the dark clouds, with the light shafts streaming earthwards at the distant end, like a comet’s tail. Clouds fascinate me. I can watch them for ages as they constantly shape-shift, changing from sea foam to floppy-eared dogs chasing the wind. We see some wonderful cloudscapes in our valley.

Do take a look at what others have chosen for Cee’s Black and White Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Weathered wood - old wooden fence

Weathered Wood for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Wood is one of my favourite natural materials and it can always surprise us with its beauty. From seedling trees to decaying logs, for me wood provides a metaphor for the cycle of life. For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week, we are looking for weathered wood. Weathered wood is often a visual feast as it develops its own individual natural character with unique grain patterns, shapes and textures.

When we walk in our local woodlands we see many tree stumps, fallen trees or logs where the forces of nature and time have left their mark. Along some of our regular paths we have observed the effects of these natural processes on particular stumps and logs over several years. With the gradual effects of decay and weathering, some of our old log ‘seats’ have cracked open to reveal their woody chambers within.

Weathered wood - old tree stump and fungus
An old tree stump with some Sulphur Tuft fungus growing on it

On damp days in early Autumn colourful fungi will sprout from the weathered wood of old tree stumps and logs. The Sulphur Tuft fungus Hyphaloma fasciculare is one of the more common and easily recognisable species that grow on old wood from deciduous trees. Here it is growing on a small Beech stump in one of our favourite beechwoods. We find beechwoods tend to be quite rich in fungi.

Weathered wood - fallen tree
A fallen tree with its remaining stump on the forest floor

This dead tree on the woodland edge was felled by the wind last Spring and now it has developed its own little niche under the holly hedge. The thick grey vines of ivy continue to thrive on the weathered wood of the fallen trunk. On this particular day the late Winter sun was streaming through the trees and lighting up this normally unremarkable spot on the forest floor. I thought it looked quite beautiful and a little magical. You could almost expect The Little Grey Men to suddenly appear from under the fallen tree.

Weathered wood - decaying log
A decaying log

This old tree trunk sits on a steep bankside in a small stretch of ancient woodland within one of our local woods. I love the shapes and patterns that have developed in this old wood and the contrast between rough and smooth. In Autumn this is another old tree trunk that we have previously seen covered in fungi – not the Sulphur Tuft as I showed you earlier, but hundreds of smooth, white Stump Puffballs Lycoperdon pyriforme .

Weathered wood is such a fascinating material. Do take a look at the weathered wood others have found for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Autumn and Metal for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Each of the seasons has its own special attractions and things to look forward to. They also have their own set of colours. Autumn certainly doesn’t do colour in half measures in our area. As well as the science magic of anthocyanin as it paints the Autumn leaves red, there are some other colour highlights we watch out for during this season.

Fiery Autumn sky at dawn
Fiery Autumn sky at dawn

This is one of the things I always look forward to in Autumn – amazing sunrises and sunsets. This photograph was taken from our front door just after dawn.

Fly Agaric fungi on the woodland floor
Fly Agaric fungi on the woodland floor

Fungi are another source of Autumn colour we like to seek out on our woodland walks. Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria provides one of the classic ‘toadstool’ images, with its bright red cap dotted with white spots. The ‘spots’ are not strictly part of the cap, but are really remnants of the white veil that covers the fungus as it grows.

Amethyst Deceiver fungus in leaf litter
Amethyst Deceiver fungus in leaf litter
Blackish-purple Russula
Blackish-purple Russula
Jelly Ear fungus growing on an old Elder branch
The strange-but-true Jelly Ear fungus growing on an old Elder branch

This Jelly Ear fungus looks rather brain-like in my son’s photo!

White Helvella fungi
White Helvella fungi

I think the White Helvella fungus looks like it has been fashioned out of molten wax.

To complete the ‘Metal’ aspect of Cee’s challenge this week I have chosen one shot from our family archives and a new image I came across on a walk just this week.

This rusty old child’s bike was retrieved from undergrowth by our sons, specifically for use as practice subject matter for photography!

Rusty child's bike arty shot
Rusty old child’s bike
Rusty metal farm gate
Rusty metal farm gate

We seem to come across these kind of field gates on our walks … rusty and somewhat bent out of shape!

Be sure to check out what others have chosen for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge on the theme of Metal or the Season of Autumn this week.

J Peggy Taylor

Beechwood sun and shadows

Weekend Nature Round-up – Signs of Spring

We probably all have our own little ways of noticing that Winter may be gradually releasing its icy grip, though this year perhaps ‘soggy’ would be a more appropriate adjective. I have noticed several of my Spring signs this weekend.

Late in the afternoon on Friday as I was busy with my usual housework I was treated to a glorious burst of singing, interspersed with a curious mix of clacking, clucking and peeping. This was one of ‘our’ starlings, singing his little heart out in our eaves. I’m not sure if he knew it was Valentine’s Day but I think he definitely sounded like he was keeping his toes crossed!

Today we took advantage of a sunny and relatively mild February Sunday and headed off into the woods for an afternoon’s ramble. As usual, being an avid nature-watcher I was on the look-out for several signs of a hopefully fairly imminent Spring.

Snowdrops almost blooming
Snowdrops almost blooming

The first of these was right outside our front door – our snowdrops are looking healthy and fit to burst. We’ll have to see what this week’s weather brings, but I’m sure those flowers will be opening very soon.

My second sighting, just a few metres into the wood, was the beautiful golden globes of the Winter Aconites Eranthis hyemalis. I always think of these flowers as ‘the’ promise that Spring is not too far off, so it is always a delight to see them. Rather like the snowdrops, they were just waiting to burst open. I’d thought today’s sun might have tempted them, but they mustn’t be quite ready.

The golden globes of Winter Aconites
The golden globes of Winter Aconites

The third sighting, close to the Winter Aconites, was my first bud-burst of 2014. The elder’s purple buds had burst forth just showing the tips of its tiny purple first leaves.

We stopped to admire the amazing reflections of the winter trees in the deep and muddy puddles along our path. The sun was still quite high and the reflected colours were much greener than a few weeks ago.

On we went, up through the sunlit beechwood, the shadows dancing across the mossy floor. This part of the wood is always full of interest, from fungi to flowers to fruits to creatures, there’s always something to discover. Today we were spotting new fungi growth on some old fallen timber – it was the fairly common Hairy Stereum Stereum hirsutum. Watching an old tree rot may not seem the most exciting thing to do, but deadwood is an amazing haven for wildlife and is especially fascinating to children [like ours] with a keen interest in both fungi and the invertebrate world.

Green shoots that promise bluebells in Spring
Green shoots that promise bluebells in Spring

At the ‘top of the forest’ we spotted the last of today’s new signs of Spring. Under the beech trees some familiar-shaped shoots were beginning to flex their glossy green fingers as they thrust their first leaves towards the encouraging sunshine. Here we saw the promise of bluebells! It will of course be some time yet before we are greeted by their glorious scent drifting on the breeze – but that is definitely something to look forward to.

J Peggy Taylor