Inspired by autumn's beauty
I love autumn, there's something truly magical about the change of the seasons, like mother nature is charging into winter in her last moment of blazing glory - it's hard not to be moved or inspired. The crunch of the leaves underfoot, the smell of the earth as it settles down for the winter. However, the bit I don't like are the long dark nights.
I know I can't be the only person who suffers with the winter blues, also known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). As the days get shorter I just seem to want to curl up into a ball and wish the days away until the days start getting longer again.
Living with SAD isn't easy, the hardest part for me initially was recognising I had it. And once you do start to see the signs what can you do to make the days easier?
Typically I turn to my family to try and keep me busy, but on a school day, when there's no one about and I'm in the office, I make myself go out with my camera and go for a walk.
Fresh air and real daylight can make a huge difference, even on a rainy day. Yes, here are some mornings when I have to make myself go out, but once I'm out I'm much happier. Taking my camera I invariably go mushroom hunting. Just going for "a walk" doesn't always inspire me, so finding a "shroom" and getting a great image of it gives me a double reward.
I've spoken to lots of people who find this time of year harder, most of them say getting outdoors helps them. Some go for a brisk walk, others go for a run, but all feel some kind of benefit.
To inspire you to get out with your camera and avoid the winter blues here are my top tips for fungi photography
1. Wrap up warm, wear sensible footwear and take some pocket hankies with you (I always get the sniffles). I also take a plastic bag with me as I know I'm likely to want to be kneeling on the floor to get low angle photos.
2. Make sure your camera/phone is fully charged - in the cold weather batteries die quicker. I take a spare battery with me in my pocket to keep it warm.
3. Mushrooms are easily missed, so take your time when you're looking for them. As well as on the ground they also grow on tree trunks, so keep looking - high as well as low.
4. Ideal places include woods with lots of leaf rot and fallen branches that are rotting. They do grow in open fields too, but the woods are likely to have more variety.
5. Going out after a rainy day will increase the likelihood of finding fungi
6. When you photography fungi - shoot from all angles. It's easy to just stand where you are and take a photo. be prepared to crouch down and shoots at the same level as the fungi. Get in close, and keep an eye out for anything distracting in the shot.
7. DON'T TOUCH THE FUNGI - unless you know what you are doing, there are many fungi that look similar, some will be safe and others toxic. Unless you know 100% don't take the risk.
Do you think you've got SAD? Check out the NHS website for advice and help. Seasonal Affective Disorder
Talk to family and friends and keep an eye out in case you think someone close to you is affected.