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The magic of mushrooms: IN THE PINK: Photographer Steve Axford scours Australia's rainforests hunting fungi that break the mould

June 22, 2014

With their squidgy, marshmallow-like shapes and stalks reminiscent of strawberry liquorice laces, these fungi look like they would be quite at home in a sweetshop window. But these are no innocent sweet treats. Found in the depths of the rainforests, many of photographer Steve Axford's subjects are inedible specimens that smell less than rosy.

After retiring from a job in IT, Axford developed a taste for snapping fungi when he moved to New South Wales in Australia, though his curiosity stayed purely artistic. "They're just particularly nice photographs," he explains. "I don't even particularly like eating fungi. If I eat too many mushrooms, they tend to give me a gut ache."

His enjoyment of fungi stretches back a long way: "I remember as a little kid my dad used to take me out picking mushrooms, so I've liked searching for them all my life."

Armed with nothing more complex than a digital SLR camera, macro lens and tripod, Axford roots around the forests in search of his next subject. With a sprinkle of luck, and a good stretch of time, he often finds something worth the effort. He takes great pleasure in shooting the fungi but, as he says, he enjoys the whole process. "Going out into the bush [and] just looking for mushrooms, it just slows you down so you can see what's going on around you . . . and [so] you see things you've never seen before." There is also a dash of discovery to it all. "There are quite a lot of new species that come up, which no one is quite sure of.

"It's sort of normal with fungi, particularly in Australia and in the tropics . . . I take photographs of all sorts of things, but the fungi, well, I just fell in love with them."

Josh Davis


Clockwise from main picture: Panus fasciatus; Marasmius haematocephalus; Laratiomyces; Hairy mycena.

Photographs by Stephen Axford/

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Source: Observer (UK)

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