Michael Weatherford  

Mushrooms of Grant County by Michael Weatherford

November 2020 - Mushrooms of Grant County

About the Image(s)

Since I have been a member of Group 67 I cannot recall a single image of mushrooms. It’s time to correct this gross miscarriage of justice. Mushrooms are great, just be careful about which ones you eat. This shot was taken in Grant County, Arkansas. It’s a family of mushrooms. There’s Mom and Dad, the twins, and Junior, who came along later. An “accident” you know.

Photo was shot in late afternoon, with the subject mostly in the shade but a patch of sunlight in the background. I toned it down and actually like the warm effect. Do you find it distracting? This image is a focus stack of 11 images, merged in Helicon Focus. I used focus stacking to get sharp focus on all the mushrooms, but retain a soft bokeh. I almost always shoot in a totally natural setting “ no setups, artificial light, etc. not because I object to using that stuff “ it’s just that I don’t want to fool with it. That can make focus stacking challenging. The subject must be absolutely still, or “ghosting” will occur, and of course no camera movement whatsoever. After merging the images I did my usual processing in Lightroom. Very little cropping, reduce highlights and lighten shadows, set white and black points, apply lens profile adjustments, use the brush to darken the background and lighten the mushrooms. Sharpen. I also used the fine details brush in Luminar 4 to bring out more detail in the mushrooms.

Pentax K-1; beanbag; 100mm macro lens; f4.0; 1/30 sec.; ISO 160.

7 comments posted

Angela Bonner   Angela Bonner
(Group 81)
I think this is a great shot and I like the family connection you have given them!! Lovely and sharp and loads of detail. I like the warmth of the background as this seems to make the fungi pop even more. Well done!!   Posted: 11/05/2020 10:55:47
Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate the kind comments!   Posted: 11/05/2020 14:48:02

Larry Treadwell   Larry Treadwell
Until you called it to my attention I had not realized that our entire group had overlooked the significance of mushrooms.

I think you did a great job with the focus stacking. I would like to know if your camera did the focusing as an automated feature or if you refocused each shot yourself manually? I would also like to know if you have Photoshop and chose Helicon Focus for some special reason. Most of my stacking images have been done with Nikon's D850 and it is an automated program. I process in Photoshop and thus far have been satisfied. Several others I have seen at clubs where I judge photos have indicated they use Helicon so I am wondering about the advantages. You also indicate that you moved the stack back to Lightroom for final editing. So, did you shoot the originals in RAW format and if so after stacking what format did you move back to LIghtroom--a jpg or a raw file? I have found that I have to use Lightroom first to edit the images then move the files to photoshop for stacking and back to LIghtroom for final edits. However the final edits are done on a jpg and I lose some quality this way.

I like the photo you submitted and I'm glad you kept the entire family together for the photo for the family portrait. I would offer two thoughts. I would crop the out of focus foreground just to clean up the image and since the eye is drawn to the light and bright portions of the image I would use and adjustment brush in Lightroom and tone down the bright parts of the background and thus leave the mushrooms as the brightest part ofhe photo   Posted: 11/05/2020 11:48:26
Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Larry, thank you for supporting my never-ending crusade for mushroom rights. I don't know if my process for shooting focus stacks is the correct one, it just happens to be mine. I do not have in-camera focus stacking, so started using Helicon along with Lightroom, initially with the LR stand-alone version. I now have Photoshop through my Adobe subscription but never use it, so I can't compare Helicon with any other way to do focus stacking. I set the camera on "ISO select" where I select the aperture and shutter speed and the camera selects the ISO. I manually focus each shot in the stack using the "live view" and "focus peaking" features of the K-1. I start at the closest point and "eyeball" the focus trying not to leave gaps between shots. Sometimes I use a focusing rail if I think eyeballing isn't good enough. I usually shoot at about f5.6 and select a shutter speed that gives me close to the lowest ISO (100 for my camera). I download the images to LR and make no initial adjustments. Helicon provides a link to LR that lets me transfer the files in RAW format (my camera uses DNG). I allow Helicon to do its work. When I save the file, Helicon automatically transfers the merged image back to LR as a RAW file. I then do my usual processing routine in LR.   Posted: 11/05/2020 15:25:17

Todd Grivetti   Todd Grivetti
Michael, nicely composed image with the grouping of the mushrooms. A true "Family Portrait". I agree with the comments about removing the blurred foreground. Your post production changes are nicely done. Getting low and capturing your point of view brings the reality of fungi to the table.

I would concur that tightening up your f/stop a little more may have eliminated some of the blurred foreground. The Bokah effect in the background is nice and the soft transition of the forest floor to the light is nicely captured as well. Viva La Mushrooms.   Posted: 11/15/2020 10:05:33

Jason Stewart   Jason Stewart
I love photographing mushrooms'. I think you caught amazing detail and separated well with the background. The colors work well in this image.   Posted: 11/19/2020 18:59:35

Michael Weatherford   Michael Weatherford
Got it. Reduce that out-of-focus foreground and darken the background a bit. Thanks for the comments and happy holidays. Stay safe!   Posted: 11/28/2020 11:52:34


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