It’s been said before by myself and others in different ways, but it doesn’t make it any less true – being a macro photographer is like being handed a key that unlocks a weird and wondrous world you never knew existed!
I’ve always loved hiking and being outdoors, and have been doing macro photography for just under two years. I’ve shot multiple genres personally and professionally over the years but never with the enthusiasm I have for macro photography – I’m fully obsessed, and it’s just as exciting to me now as it was on day one! I get lots of questions about the OM-1 camera for macro and I can say with 100% certainty that the ISO improvements are tremendous, and the stability is insane – I’m able to capture things in low light with shaky arms like I never was able to before!
The Right Kit
When I step out into the forest, you’ll find me with my OM-1, M.Zuiko 60mm Macro lens, and a few accessories. I’ve only ever used the OM system, starting out with a PEN, then the OM-D E-M10, followed by the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, and now the OM-1, which has been a total game-changer! I’ve also got a 250 Raynox attachment just in case I find something impossibly small like tiny slime mold, and I recently branched out into flash photography, too. I’d say I went from 100% natural light photography to 50/50 now, which has been exciting because I feel like there’s nothing in the macro world I now can’t capture! There is a delicious spark that ignites in my little artist brain when I feel like I’ve composed and captured something truly visually satisfying. It’s unbeatable! When I picked up the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens I felt like I’d opened up a portal to a previously unknown dimension of vast and complex life in the understory. It’s honestly changed my life and how I see the world.
Where to Start
I’ve spent seemingly every moment that I’m not working or sleeping, dedicated to learning everything I can about macro photography and how I can leverage the functionality of the OM system to get the shots I want. When I’m out in the woods searching for fungi, I’m looking for colour, texture, and magical lighting. Whether it’s crunchy lichen or a tiny mushroom glossy with dew. Muted, monochromatic, bright contrasting colours, creamy bokeh…I’m here for all of it.
What to Look For
So, let’s talk fungi and slime mold! Where to look? Ancient forests are always a great shout, small logs and twigs rarely disappoint. You’d be surprised how much life there is to be found on a teensy little twig! Especially after a few days of rain. You might see little fuzzy white patches on the forest floor – most likely that is going to birth mushrooms soon so keep checking back. I’m always looking for mushrooms and slime mold with texture and guttation (expelled water droplets - think mushroom sweat!). Rhodotus Palmatus “Wrinkled Peach” are my favourite fungi species, and pretty rare! I really love photographing Stemonitis slime mold when it’s young because it changes colour and shape really quickly and it’s exciting to watch the transformation! A felled tree with mushrooms popping out of it is probably a stellar composition opportunity because you can sit (or lay down on) the forest floor and point your camera up at the fungi to capture some great gill and droplet details. You’ll also get bokeh from the light dappling through the tree canopy above. Flip that articulated screen and get creative with positioning the camera underneath things. I always bring a microfibre cloth to wipe up water droplets and mud off of my lens as there’s nothing more annoying than realising your lens has been dirty for hours.
When to Go
You can find fungi year-round where I live in London but Autumn is prime fungi hunting season! The days get shorter and shorter so quickly in the UK so I have to start getting myself up and out of the door by 7am. You also have a greater chance of finding mushrooms covered in glorious dewdrops if you get out there early, and fewer people asking you if you are ok when they see you laying on the ground in the middle of the woods!
Light it Up
Golden hour is probably everyone’s favourite for natural light photography because it provides a magical warm glow to everything you photograph. What’s better than a glowing mushroom?! My favourite time, however, is actually shooting on an overcast day as you avoid harsh light and can skip fighting with glare and shadows. I’m probably one of the few people in England cheering for clouds!
What to wear when rolling around in the understory? In my humble opinion, there is a shortage of women’s outdoor wear that appeals to me both in style and functionality for my macro needs, so I generally wear quick-dry yoga leggings and a rain jacket. I swear by Muck Boots, which see me through the freezing cold and shin-deep mud of English winters. I also take a waterproof mud tarp with me to spread out if I need to get down on the ground somewhere unreasonably mucky. I try to pack as light as possible; another reason why the OM system is king! I literally walk around the woods wearing my camera as a necklace and don’t even notice it – brilliant!
Want to Learn More from Jamie?
Watch Jamie's interview on OM SYSTEM Live. Jamie shares her favorite photos and stories from her time spent getting up close and personal with the fungus and flora in the forest.
“I get lots of questions about the OM-1 camera for macro and I can say with 100% certainty that the ISO improvements are tremendous, and the stability is insane – I’m able to capture things in low light with shaky arms like I never was able to before!”
“When I picked up the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens I felt like I’d opened up a portal to a previously unknown dimension of vast and complex life in the understory. It’s honestly changed my life and how I see the world.”