Young Oyster Mushrooms on a Tree by Todd Henson

A small cluster of young oyster mushrooms growing on a tree in the woods.

Mushrooms and fungi can be a common sight when hiking through the woods. You can find them growing from the ground and on living or dead trees. The mushrooms pictured here are growing from a living tree, and I believe they are a small cluster of young oyster mushrooms which are from the Pleurotus family. I found this cluster just off the trail in a Northern Virginia park in early September.

Front view of a small cluster of young oyster mushrooms.

Notice the interesting shapes of the gills that run down the stem of these mushrooms, how they run down the entire length. As they mature the caps will grow much larger and possibly darken a bit. The stem below the cap will almost disappear, leaving just the large cap and the gills underneath it.

Oyster mushrooms are a popular edible mushroom commonly found in grocery stores, though don’t take anything here as advice on harvesting them. I am still very much an amateur at identifying mushroom species.

Cicada Casing on a Tree by Todd Henson

A cicada casing, or shell, left of a tree.

Many of us have probably heard the sound of cicadas calling to one another. During some seasons the sound can grow to a constant hum. But have you ever seen the casing left behind when a larval cicada molts out of its shell? That’s what this photograph shows.

A cicada had climbed this tree and latched itself onto the bark. Then it began the fascinating process of molting. Inside it detached from its hard shell. It broke through the back of the shell and began to emerge, very soft and vulnerable. Its wings opened and took form. Eventually it flew off leaving behind the casing, or shell, that we see in the photograph above.

YouTube has a video from BBC Studios of Sir David Attenborough describing the life cycle of the cicada:

The Calm Before Spring by Todd Henson

The Calm Before Spring

It was the first week of April. We were transitioning from winter to spring. The day began cool, almost cold, but it slowly warmed to a more comfortable range. Most of the trees still lacked leaves, though that will have changed by now. To the right were a couple of weeping cherry trees in bloom. The rest of the cherry trees wouldn’t bloom for another week or so.

It was a fairly calm day. I liked the idea of creating an image with a reflection of the trees on the far shore of the lake. I decided to set up my tripod on the gazebo on the lake, pointing back towards the rest of the park. I put on a filter to slow down the shutter speed and smooth out the surface of the lake as much as possible. I wanted something simple and quiet to reflect the calm before spring.

I would very much like to return to this location and attempt additional exposures as the seasons change.

Filter Geekery

This was my first photograph with my new Singh-Ray I-Ray 690 Infrared filter. The 690 is not a pure infrared filter. It allows both infrared and near-infrared light to enter the camera. This gives a different look than the pure infrared filter (Singh-Ray I-Ray 830), and it requires far less time to create an exposure.

I look forward to experimenting more with the 690 filter and comparing its results to those of the 830. These sorts of filters can be a lot of fun.

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