There are two versions of this article by guest photographer Pier Luigi Pacetti: in English below: Italiano clicca qui
The Autumn Colours that I prefer
To most people autumn colours usually mean the colours of leaves, woodlands with their marvelous range of tones and autumnal fruits: the orange of persimmon; reds of the pomegranate; the green, white and red mix of Arbutus (the strawberry tree) and so it goes on. There is, however, another world, less obvious but extremely rich in thousands and thousands of nuances of colour. This is an unknown world mainly because, for the greater part of a year, it is ephemeral and thus appreciable only fleetingly, just for a few days or even a few hours at a time .
To find it you must venture into the woods and, unfortunately, in my part of the world it is hard to encounter ‘sensitive spirits’ there. There are the hunters, people of low sensitivity to any living thing (and certainly to these colours) and people searching for fungi. These latter are either completely indifferent to our subjects or they start a war without quarter against them, eating all those they can and destroying others indiscriminately- in most cases simply out of ignorance.
I am sure that you have guessed that I am talking about fungi and their fantastic world. These are indeed fascinating organisms, whether for their biology, their adaptive capacity, their bizarre forms and for me, above all else, their colours.
At my home latitude the majority of fungi appear in autumn when the brown shades of the undergrowth seem to make them stand out or to frame them. They are ideal subjects for photography, even in an environment with tricky lighting conditions like a wood. They don’t escape; they don’t even, move for there is only a minimal breeze and best of all, they are highly photogenic… and to me they seem ‘highly communicative’, too. At times, I have the sensation that they are suggesting to me just how they are to be photographed…this is certainly attributable to a fungus being truly stationary so I am given all the time I want to study the scene and decipher ‘messages’ that can be drawn from that as well. When I download files later, I am almost always satisfied with the image whereas with insects this does not happen nearly so often!
Above all, they are communicative because their static nature allows me, in complete calm, to observe and to live with all the sensations that the woodland transmits to me .
I am pleased to have the chance to convey what I feel when I enter a wood with my camera and encounter a fungus. Sometimes I happen to revisit (as with the case of various Aphyllophorales – small bracket fungi- the same example a few months later and it is always a surprise to find that it has grown even if it had not rained and is in “good shape” if the season is moist enough. Sometimes, the branch or trunk on which it grows will have been completely destroyed and it’s not there anymore… and then I notice some small specimen on nearby timber.
At other times fungi seem to appear unexpectedly and I am stunned by ‘arabesques’ – colored drawings and paintings of various fungal growths on tree trunks. This is the case with Terrana caerulea (above) for when confronted by its blue colour I get the same feeling as when I admire fireworks: first nothing and then an explosion of colours … but without the noise!
Marks or spots of colour often dictate my wandering in the woods That was the case with a bright red Aphyllophorales and the pastel pink pink Mycena rosa growing near stones with fallen leaves and moss creating a highly harmonious collage effect around.
Some play hide and seek with me like Hexagonia nitida which conceals its most beautiful part, the hymenophore on its lower face and so I am obliged to rotate a fallen bough to photograph it, discovering meanwhile on the same branch the delightful and rare surprise of a blue Terrana caerulea.
With some fungi I have to get very close and take macro shots to appreciate properly the beauty of the likes of Lycogala epidendrum whose growth follows the sinuous texture of the wood of the trunk on which it grows.
With certain others, after getting close I need to change lenses to place them in context of their habitat. Thus it was for a specimen of Lactarius salmonicolour with its muted tones imposed on a slightly misty morn.
So, here’s wishing you great fungus photos and, above all, the best of fun to everyone.
© Pier Luigi Pacetti