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Macroscopy And Myxomycetes
Photographys by Max Mudie
Inevitably, the lower you go with your camera the closer you want to get, then one day you find you’ve tumbled into a microscopic rabbit hole. But interestingly, down there, the world actually opens up. I’m not the first person to say and I’m not going to be the last but when you find out how integral fungi are to our existence it sort of makes everything else feel insignificant. My stumble into a macro world documenting mushrooms started whilst cycling on the South Downs. A lifelong love for mushrooms and a move back to this rural area sparked an obsession with foraging, documenting and cultivating fungi. I feel privileged to be able to have the opportunity to share and see into a world that’s not always visible to the naked eye. Reconnecting with nature is more important than ever and I feel very honoured to act as a looking glass for others to see into this micro world that’s right beneath our feet.
If you delve into kingdom fungi, it’s only a matter of time until you come across slime moulds. Myxomycetes are a type of single cell organism once classified with fungi but now understood to be distinct. Many fungi folk still count them towards their area of interest, however. Far from being humble, they’re grabbing the attention of a wide audience, including the likes of NASA. Slime moulds are being used to help create algorithms, solve maze like problems and have even had a trip into space. When the conditions are right, they aggregate to form beautifully intricate miniature structures, many only reaching a few millimetres tall. To document these species photographically speciality macro equipment is necessary, although many fruiting bodies can be observed using a relatively inexpensive jeweller’s loupe or hand lens. It’s always worth carrying one.
Fungi and Myxomycetes can be found year-round in a variety of locations both rural and urban, so no matter what day it is or where you are, a new discovery is a possibility. Nothing, however, quite compares to the diversity in old/ancient woodland. Criminally, the destruction of such habitat threatens the existence of these species and, all over the world, is proving catastrophic for all of earth’s inhabitants. I think I can speak on behalf of most mycophiles when I stress the importance of fungi and their role within all our ecosystems. Fungi need to be protected as a matter of urgency. Our future depends on it.
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