It’s a Puffball

It’s like that ole’ saying, if you are looking for just one thing, you will end up finding so much more. Well, this is exactly what has been happening! While I am exploring various areas to search for different species of a particular plant I often come across other interesting photographic subjects. 

This time I stumbled upon a puffball. Let me introduce you to the Pear-shaped Puffball (Apioperdon pyriforme) – aka: the wolf-fart puffball

-Gasteromycetes a class or subclass of fungi, which must have their spores dispersed by some outside force, usually wind, rain, bacterial or fungal degradation, or animals such as insects. 

The Pear-shaped Puffball are saprobes- usually referring to a fungus that feeds on dead or decaying organic matter. They are often in dense clusters on dead logs. 

While hiking I encountered the mature stage of the Pear-shaped Puffball and at this life cycle inside that brown puffball are thousand and thousands of spores ready to be dispersed. 

Photographically, puffballs are super cool to photograph while the spores are released. 

It only takes a very light tap for the puffball to release its spores, which is a relief because I would feel terrible if I damaged them just to take a picture or video.

Photo tip for Pear-shaped Puffball would be two things: background and your drive mode set to multi. The spores can disappear when photographing, so test your shot with a lighter background -an open area and then with a darker background -the log. Use your macro lens and change your f-stop to your liking. You will need to change your ISO and your exposure compensation to balance the higher f-stop.  I did not test using an external flash or the on-camera flash, but I would recommend a low exposure value (-3) to start. 

Note: Two good reasons not to overdo taking photos of puffballs. 

  1. Inhaling the spores is not good- They belong in nature, not in your lungs.
  2. If taking multiple photos, give your camera a break. You can damage the cameras shutter curtains and the cost of repair is very expensive.

* Always be cautious when you are around plants, especially if you are not 100% sure of what that plant is. Always refer to a field guide or ask a professional botanist before touching it!

Read more:

Lycoperdon pyriforme (MushroomExpert.Com)

Species Spotlight – Puffballs (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

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