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Determining Scale in Macro Photography

Updated: Jun 12

I remember the first time I found Bird’s Nest Fungus. I was on a guide-led mushroom hike in the Oakland Hills on a rainy morning in winter. I had pulled over to adjust my rain poncho when I looked to the ground and spotted a handful of tiny bird’s nests (aptly named) attached to a stick on the ground. As I dropped to my knees and investigated further, I spotted dozes more, and – oh my goodness – they were everywhere!

What was shocking to me was how small they really were. Each “nest” was around a 5-7mm in diameter. Based on what I’d seen in photos, I would have guessed they were much larger!

When photography is involved, it’s often easy for viewers to misinterpret the actual sizes of the subject in question. When looking at a photo, one good way to decipher how large a mushroom actually is to analyze its surroundings. Compare with what you see based on prior knowledge. From trees, to leaves, to tendrils of moss – we can all create a foundation for measuring size using common natural elements.

"Jellied Bird's Nest Fungus"

(Nidula candida)

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