I recently visited the RSPB site of Arne in Dorset and let my mind wander over the many hews of colours of trees, leaves, wild flowers, to block out the world. We all suffer from those burning thoughts, like what will happen in the future, have I paid the bills this month, can I have peace and quiet for five minutes. Life is so demanding at the best of times. I turned to photography and nature to heal my thoughts.   

One sunny afternoon last week I set out to visit the RSBP nature reserve just outside Wareham, in Dorset, hoping to see the wonders of Fungi. Amongst the many autumn colours, hoping I would get to see the micro-organisms that spur up in woodlands and forests. It’s basically a nature treasure hunt and can be unpredictable what you may find.

Mindfulness Photography in Arne

I walked at a gentle pace around the nature reserve, with my Sony Alpha 58 camera with lenses 18-55mm and 30mm macro lens, walking in no particular path. The basic rules of looking for fungi, is the observation of your surroundings, the types of trees and leaf debris. The best trees are pine, silver birch, beech or oak.

Stop when you feel happy in the right place and look around, tune into you visual experiences, the sunshine or breeze on your face. Now look down on the ground. Can you see the colours of browns, and yellows of leaves on the ground amongst the silver birch and pine. They don’t always jump out at you, but if you are lucky you may find hews of white, brown, yellow, orange, red it all depends on the leaves and trees. 

Now take out your camera, I find the best settings are F3.5 to 5.6, 160 shutter speed, iso 250. Think about the colours, close ups, try and take the whole toadstool shape. If your camera has a built in LCD screen then use it to your advantage, it saves kneeling down in the dirty wet leaves.

When walking around look out for felled trees that have lots of moss growing on them, you can look out for porcelain fungus, that grow in large numbers on dead fallen wood. The caps are slimy white to grey, that resembles glistening porcelain, and have spaced gills attached to the stem. The one that you see in the photo I took was from a small section of many clusters of a whole tree that is sitting on its side.

If you are wanting to look for the toadstools that fairies like then the Fly Agaric sits anywhere in the woods with silver birch trees. They are domed when small and flatten out when big. Arne has a few locations near the paths towards the beach end.

Even if fungi aren’t for you, Arne can also be a good place to capture, birds, squirrels and small boats passing by on the waters of Poole Harbour.