Mushroom Art for Sale by Artist C Ribet

If you crack open any decent mycology or fungus field guide, you will find many wild mushroom pictures and many drawings, prints, and photographs of all kinds of fungi, and their fungi kingdom habitat. Many of these are beautiful prints or wild mushroom photos, and all of them should at a minimum give you a better understanding of the fungi they depict. These mushroom photos fulfill their purpose and often provide more, but do they bring forth an emotional response in you? Do you lose yourself in them emotionally? On occasion yes, but often not. This is through no fault of the mycology photographer or mycology artist who takes these mushroom photos. It is because the purpose of those mushroom photographs is to show you the anatomical details of the fungi to allow you to identify them correctly and safely according to wild mushrooms mycology. You don't want to decide to eat a fungus based on a mushroom art print!

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I create these prints because to me these fungi present an extraordinary natural beauty while simultaneously conjuring a world of fantasy which transcends it. They at their first appearance often are the smoothest, the softest, and the most delicate things imaginable. At their passing, they can be the most withered, the most rotting, and the most black and lifeless things imaginable. In the course of their fleeting lives they exhibit every state in between with equal fervor. In my mushroom picture art prints I try to capture what I can of their more tangible raw physical beauty, but I also try to capture their spirit and personality. To me there is a tremendous spirit of humanity within them, and I hope to expose it and to share it through the artistic interpretations which I create in my mushroom pictures and art prints.

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Not only can an all-digital work environment allow for creative choices otherwise unattainable in the image creation process, but today's digital print methods offer more even after the 'digital master' is created. Technological advances in the digital printing process now readily make possible printing on nontraditional media such as canvas and fine art watercolor papers. For the fungi and wild mushoom art giclees which I create, I prefer the look and texture of heavy weight watercolor fine art 'board' papers. Virtually all of the wild mushroom art prints you see represented here and at the on-line gallery store are made on Hahnemuhle's highest quality heavy weight fine art watercolor papers. While these art giclees may little resemble traditional mushroom pictures which are presented as photographs, they are not watercolors either. They lie somewhere in between. The watercolor paper texture is often very evident, but it is not always so. It depends greatly upon the individual wild mushrooms picture from which the digital master mushroom picture is derived. I choose watercolor papers individually for each unique mushroom picture by making test prints with the papers whose textures and base color intuitively seem the most complementary to the wild mushroom pictures in question. It is possible with experience often to anticipate a paper for a given mushroom picture, but there are always pleasant surprises to be had as well. Please see the gallery web site at for more details about the print method, paper choices, and to view close-up images showing the detailed paper textures of these watercolor board papers.

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Once the original wild mushroom pictures are taken, back in the 'digital photography darkroom' of the computer the images of the mushroom picture then serve as both inspiration and source for the creation of the digital 'master' photographs from which the final wild mushroom art prints ultimately will be created. The original digital mushroom pictures are in effect the raw material from which the mushroom picture digital masters are created for the mushroom prints. Sometimes for the mushroom print the only changes to the original wild mushroom pictures may be as simple as cropping the photograph and removing a blurry shadow cast by a mote of dust on the lens. For other prints the lighting and composition of the scene may be altered to bring about a mood change or to change the emotional focus of the final mushroom print. Sometimes several separate images of the same fungi subject or scene are melded together to create a different or more complete scene. Some alterations are essentially the digital replications of established techniques of the masters of traditional film photography (many ground breaking methods were perfected by Ansel Adams, for example). However, an all-digital creative workflow can yield more than the traditional process of 'analog' photography. The all-digital process allows artistic choices which are unavailable to traditional photographers. The result is that the final digital master for a print may surpass what is possible to actually capture on film - digital or otherwise.

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Each wild mushroom art print mushroom photo starts as a high resolution digital mushroom photograph (the original mushrooms picture which will result in the final fine art watercolor print). That is why these gallery mushroom prints and images may be referred to at times as 'mushroom photographs', 'mushroom pictures', or 'mushroom photos', etc. However, while the origin of each print lies in a mushroom photograph (the fungi or mushroom picture which was first captured by the camera), the final watercolor print is not at all a mushroom photograph in the traditional sense of photography.

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If conditions are right, the fungus will continue to grow over many many seasons. This fact that the mushroom is just the fruiting body, and not the long-lived organism itself, is why if you are out mushroom picking, and you are very careful to remove only the mushroom and not disturb the underlying fungus body (the mycelium) you should be able to return again to the same spot for more mushroom picking the next season. …

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Consider for yourself a reasonably distant visual perspective of a wild mushroom. Now imagine removing a troop of 'identical' mushrooms from their surroundings, suspend them from their mycological environment, keep this distant perspective, and visually inspect them in your mind. Although you know that every mushroom is uniquely different from every other, they all appear identical from this perspective. …

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Mushroom kingdom. Fungus kingdom. Fungi kingdom. Mushrooms, fungi! What's the difference? The words fungus and mushroom or fungi and mushrooms are often freely substituted for one another. Fungi kingdom is mushroom kingdom and likewise mushroom kingdom is fungi kingdom. Common usage often doesn't really distinguish much between the two terms mushroom and fungi, but there is a difference. …

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The fungi kingdom, or mushroom kingdom, makes up its own kingdom because fungi are not animals, and fungi are not plants. Fungi and mushrooms do not photosynthesize and instead derive their energy from the decaying organic matter which supports them. This means they are not dependent upon the sun like most plants. This doesn't mean that all wild mushrooms grow in dark caves, however. …

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Whether as a photographer you are taking pictures of people, pictures of plants and animals, or pictures of mushrooms, you will always find that you arrive back home at the end of the day with great hopes and expectations, but you may often be disappointed! The advent of digital photography has made the entire process an order of magnitude easier than it has been traditionally with conventional film photography, but it is by no means certain that you will capture a scene's mood and composition as it appears to you when you are photographing it. …

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Not many of the original pictures of mushrooms I take will make it all the way to become a mushroom watercolor giclee print. There are so many variables involved in just capturing a fine art mushroom photograph that it is always at least very hard and frequently quite impossible to get everything perfect in the field. Sometimes it seems impossible even to capture a body of reasonable pictures of fungi to begin with, and that is just the first step to obtain the original pictures of the mushrooms from which to ultimately make the final mushroom watercolor giclee prints. …

© C Ribet 2013