I received a wonderful gift from my partner a couple of days ago: an agar plate, originally used to grow bacteria, now contaminated with something I assume is a fungus. The fungal shapes are so exquisite, and I so infatuated with living things in general and tiny living things in particular, that I couldn’t help but set up a tiny fungal photo studio as soon as I woke up the following day. As if that wasn’t enough inspiration-wise, I turned on the How To Destroy Angels EP and started shooting.
Fungi comprise their own kingdom, just like animals, plants and bacteria. The mushrooms we mostly associate with fungi are actually just the fruiting bodies of a much larger entity – an organism mostly made up of tiny hyphae living underground. Many of them live in association with trees in something called mutualism: a relationship where both (or all) parties benefit. Some are parasitic – mammals like ourselves can get fungal infections, but cold-blooded animals and plants have an even higher abundance of infectious fungi, possibly because fungi, in general, aren’t very fond of the high temperatures in our bodies. Some parasitic fungi of ants can even hijack the infected ant’s brain and turn them into so-called “zombie ants“, but if I start talking about that I won’t ever stop…
I don’t actually know anything about what the fungus I was given might be. I only know that it was a very cooperative model and that the incredibly diverse and surprising world around us is so amazing to observe that I think the world would be a better place if everyone sat down and stared at some tiny living thing everyday.
I hope you enjoy the pictures!
I got the different background colours by putting a piece of coloured paper behind the plate with the fungus. The white bits are the fungus, the spheres are bacterial colonies.
The fungus had covered the plate quite thoroughly!
This is a so-called super-macro photograph – an even more close-up version of a macro photo. I got this by using a macro lens with a reversed 50mm lens attached to the front. Look at how the fungus has started growing on top of the bacterial colonies!
A slightly different shot to show, from another viewpoint, the beautiful branching patterns of the fungus – it may look chaotic, but it really isn’t.
Black & white makes it a bit more abstract, I think – and even more alien?
The fungus grows on top of the bacteria, but not itself – instead it forms beautiful patterns where the tips almost meet each other.
Thanks to the cooperative fungus for the great studio session, and to HTDA for the right mood!