I think the mushroom is one of the over two hundred species of the genus Mycena, but after reviewing a number of books, I still can’t be absolutely certain. Mushroom identification is perilous without spore prints and other information from the field (does it smell? does it ooze if broken?). If I’m wrong, please add a comment and I’ll update.
The moss, however, I’m certain of the identification. Hylocomium splendens, or stair-step moss, really deserves a photograph of its own to reveal its illustrative common name–you only get a hint of its arching main shoots in these photographs. I didn’t photograph the moss on its own while at Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park, but Hylocomium splendens can also be found in UBC Botanical Garden, so watch it for in an upcoming BPotD.
The reason for today’s two similar photographs is to illustrate the difference in depth of field by changing the F value via the camera’s aperture priority mode (read more in this tutorial). The first photograph was taken at F11 while the other was snapped at F4.5. For my purposes, I consider the first image more technical as it supplies more information about the Mycena‘s environment, while the second isolates the subject, which I find more aesthetically-pleasing. Finding a balance between providing enough technical detail and making a visually-appealing photograph is one of the challenges of scientific photography.
Meeting that challenge is where having a digital camera shines, because of the opportunity to take multiple images at essentially no additional cost. In almost all of the images shown on BPotD, my method has been to bracket the photographs using changes in F-value, i.e., taking a number of images with different depths of field. I then choose one or two out of a batch of up to a dozen to keep (sometimes at opposite ends of the depth of field spectrum, like these two). Of course, this means making decisions, or else the hard drive quickly fills up. Still, it’s a pretty good recipe for success if you’re disciplined and ruthless. As an aside, I was inspired to write on this topic because of a posting on one of my favourite non-science weblogs, Creating Passionate Users–read Kathy Sierra’s article on “If you could change only one thing…“.
Photography resource link: Extraordinary microworld, by award-winning photomicrographer Dr. Dennis Kunkel. Plenty of botanical images (and others) under the category links.