Behind the Lens with Max Mudie

16 February 2021 | Posted in Emma Chaplin , wildlife photography
Behind the Lens with Max Mudie
Comatrichia © Max Mudie

We speak to Max Mudie about his love of fungi photography.

Main image: Comatrichia. These fascinating little subjects are only a couple of mm tall. Slime moulds or Myxomycetes can be found in damp places on decaying wood or leaf litter. It helps to have a magnifying glass or loupe if you want to look for these. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm 35 years old. I'm originally from the Isle of Wight but currently live just north of Lewes, East Sussex. I work as a photographer for a skate company (Loco Skates) shooting mostly ecomm for web and a bit content creation for use on social media. 

I've always had a keen interest in wildlife, conservation and the environment. It seems crazy to me that people exist in the world who don't care about those things when it's so integral to our survival. I guess it stems from growing up enjoying the outdoors. The Isle of Wight has such a diverse amount of habitat and wildlife, it would be difficult to not become interested. 

Velvet shank good

Velvet Shank -  Flammulina velutipes 

When and why did you develop an interest in wildlife photography? 

My parents got me my first camera when I was about 15. I studied photography for A level. Back then it was all on film and we had to learn how to process pictures in a dark room 'old school' 

I then went on to do a BA in Photography but my interest in documenting fungi only really came about in the last four years. 

6,Mycena corticola

Mycena corticola

You have a particular subject matter you favour - how did that come about?

Fungi and Myxomycetes are my main subject matter, but I occasionally cross paths with an insect or animal. It all started when I would cycle across the south downs with a friend and noticed lots of mushrooms which I decided to start trying to Identify to eat. Shortly after I moved out of Brighton into the countryside to an area where fungi are abundant and it turned into a bit of an obsession.  

10,peach slug on mushroom

Slug on a Mycena Species

What are the biggest challenges in your field of photography?

Finding the subjects is the hardest part. Also, many of the subjects I photograph go through rapid transformations, some in a matter of hours, many are seasonal. So, finding the subject, with half-decent lighting conditions, at the right stage of its short life can be challenging. 

5,moss drip 2

Moss

What equipment do you use, in brief? 

I use a digital SLR with a macro lens, a tripod and cable release. For the really tiny subjects, I use extension tubes and a raynox clip on to get extra close. To achieve a sharp image at this scale you need to stack the image; essentially you take lots of photos moving the focus a fraction after each shot, then put them together in post. 

BLUSHER aMANITA

The Blusher - Amanita rubescens

What’s your favourite
shot?

I don't have one, I think part of being creative means you always strive to be better. There's always room for improvement and if that's not the case you're doing something wrong. If push came to shove I would choose this green elf cup picture with a water droplet in, it reminds me of a crystal ball.  

Efl cup retouched

Green Elf Cup - Chlorociboria aeruginascens

What are you trying to communicate with your photographs? 

The idea behind my account is to inspire people to look at the little things to gain a clearer picture of the ecosystem as a whole. People including myself, are really starting to learn and understand the important role that fungi plays, not just as a sustainable food source or medicine but for materials such as packaging and leather, even breaking down nuclear and plastic waste. Not to mention the huge role they play underground in the wood wide web. I hope my account inspires people to reconnect with nature and provides an insight into a little known world that is right beneath our feet. 

Any tips? 

Be humble, listen to experts, take as many pictures as you can, immerse yourself in nature. Try and live more sustainably. Eat more mushrooms. 

Check out more of Max's amazing images on his Instagram account @allthingsfungi

Comments

  • Clare Blencowe:

    16 Feb 2021 08:52:00

    Hi Max – what terrific photos! I just wondered if you’d come across Sussex Fungus Group, which I’m involved with in my spare time: http://sussexfungusgroup.co.uk/ – it’s been a bit quiet recently because of the pandemic restrictions, but hoping we’ll be able to restart the group’s fungus recording survey programme this year (maybe! who knows). Clare

  • Max Mudie:

    17 Feb 2021 10:59:00

    Hi Clare, Thank you! I hadn’t come across the Sussex fungus group but I’m definitely keen to get involved! :)

  • Helen Ayres:

    17 Feb 2021 21:38:00

    Hello Max. Love the photos , so unique and use of light is wonderful…. are you selling these photos anywhere? Just think with this recent interest in interior design there’d be a lot of people loving these original photos in their homes!! Where can I get hold of some or are you planning a gallery exhibition when such things are allowed? Just brilliant lob from Helenx

  • Julie Keenan:

    18 Feb 2021 02:11:00

    Hi Max, this is Julie, your mum’s friend. Your pictures are lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at them and reading your comments. They reminded me a book, the story of another fungi lover and his efforts to record their images and behaviors. Let me know what you think!
    https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Eye_of_the_Lynx.html?id=6×5QypGKTS0C&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&gboemv=1

  • Julia Shepherd:

    20 Feb 2021 12:40:00

    These are really special photographs. Thank you for sharing them

  • Max Mudie:

    20 Feb 2021 14:36:00

    Hi Helen, Thanks for your kind words. I do hope to get some prints done at some stage and maybe one day exhibit. Fingers crossed. I’ll keep you posted. :)

  • Max Mudie:

    20 Feb 2021 14:38:00

    Hi Julie, Thank you for the book recommendation I’ll check that out. Glad you like the pictures and I hope you’re keeping well! x

  • Max Mudie:

    21 Feb 2021 19:46:00

    Hi Julie, Thank you for the book recommendation I’ll check that out. Glad you like the pictures and I hope you’re keeping well! x

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