19th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Natural World
Northern Lights

This is an image of a Bracket Fungus (Polypores) releasing spores. These spores, when lit up with an intense light from a certain angle, produce such amazing colors! I had never observed this before, but when I saw the spectrum of colors with bare eyes just by firing a low intensity flashlight, I was amazed at the vibrancy of it! I decided to experiment with better lighting. I came back to this dead tree log on which the fungus was growing as soon as it got completely dark. The challenge was getting the spores right in windy conditions. Even a slight breeze would make the spores fly away too swiftly and it was not possible to get a good definition of their quantity. The wind would stop for a few seconds every 15-20 minutes and the speed of the spore release would slow down and the visible quantity would dramatically increase. After a few attempts over a stretch of 2 nights, I managed to create a set of beautiful and vibrant images. This particular image was more colorful and close to what I had pre visualized. I tried to fool my brain into seeing this Macro image as a landscape image only by rotating it to Horizontal view. Rest of the magic was created by my brain as it started to view the bottom structures as the "Stonehenge", the upper part as stars and the middle colorful part as Aurora borealis or Northern lights!!!

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 09.2020
Date Uploaded: 11.2021
Photo Location: India
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Copyright: © Prathamesh Ghadekar