Monotone forest feb.16


Having just finished a post about wildly colorful fungi,  it’s time to go to the opposite extreme. Be forewarned – this post is as much about art as it is about nature.

 I have a confession to make – I’m getting bored and irritated by pictures of nature. Often they have a color-saturated fantasy look about them, as if the reality isn’t good enough. I have been guilty myself on these pages, of amping the colors in a photo to make it more eye-grabbing. But I’m also a big fan of going backward to the black and white image.

(Viewing this through your email? Consider going to the blog itself for a better image appearance.)




Aging oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus      The convolutions remind me of Edward Weston’s peppers




If you’re following this blog you know I used to take black and white photos and print them in my darkroom. Yes, the old-fashioned way with smelly chemicals. So much easier to just turn on the “edit” feature, and make an ordinary color pic into something else. These are not actually “black and white” – rather they are toned, so  there is still a hint of color to indicate the warmth or coolness of the light.

Every forest is different of course. Having spent so much time in this one I’m getting to know its unique character. Somehow monotone images capture this better than color, maybe by eliminating some of the element of distraction.  Trees and fungi, with the way they grab the light, are well suited to this approach.



translucent light shows this species has pores, not gills



The visible presence of fungi is an important part of the character of this forest. Wave after wave of windstorm, disease, and infestation have laid many an old tree on the ground. And then the fungi come to feed, spreading their hyphae deep into the fallen trunks. What we see above ground is just the “tip of the mushroom” – the fruiting bodies that produce spores.



slug feeding  on an old dryad’s saddle,  Cerioporus squamosus




In a monotone image, fungi are distanced from our ordinary perception and revealed as truly astounding ghostly eruptions.


ordinarily orange Laetiporus


One of the joys of winter woods – afternoon filtered light on tree trunks. This pic is sepia toned and softened to give the feel of an old photo. It would be amazing to have an actual old photo or two of this place from back in the day. Just 100 years ago there was likely very little forest here, just scattered trees, grazing livestock, even fields of corn.



Imagine scrolling through the centuries in our time machine, in this one place, as forests rise and fall and rise again.


Speaking of rise and fall, the pic below introduces the next post, still being written. Can you guess what it will be about?





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