Blue mushrooms that is, also known as Entoloma hochstetteri. It’s a rare sight in the forest and is a species of mushroom that is native to New Zealand and featured on the New Zealand $50 note
The first time I had seen one was back in 2018, during a run in the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park. I had heard about it from other people and photographers trying to capture it.

First time spotting blue mushroom in the Kaimai Ranges.

It also got me down a rabbit hole about the colour blue, it’s really rare in nature, check out some of these videos below about light refraction vs. natural pigments. For me it’s really fascinating the natural world that we live in:

The New Zealand 50 dollar note

One of the facts: “Blue pigments uncommon everywhere in nature, there are no blue foods, there are less than 10% flowers that are blue. And the sky and sea appear as blue because of light scattering.”
Who knew! I have heard of photography friends who have travelled for hours and hours just to get a glimpse of the mushroom or capture it. That’s dedication.
There is of course a book dedicate to all of fungi, of course with the blue mushroom on the cover:

Another sighting, again in the Kaimai Ranges

So, every year there seems to be a flurry of activity try to see or capture these magical fungal creations. In this case a friend had notified me that there were blue mushrooms at the Karamatura trail - a popular track out the west coast of Auckland where there have been blue mushrooms spotted in the past. I decided to check it out, trying to find it as per the friends' suggestions. 
I didn’t actually find the one that I was looking for but found a group of three other blue mushrooms! That was really cool. With the backdrop of the lush greens, the mushrooms really stand out. 

At Karamatura

On this trip I was happy I bumped into a running friend - Tatsuru. He is one of the most inspiring people I know, he is always out there running, doing huge missions. Even this day when I met him, he had injured his shoulder, but he was out there! As I talking to him, the light was beautiful, I got a quick portrait of him with my 50mm, before he rushed down the hill.
Back to the mushroom, I tried to do some focus stacking - a technique where you take multiple macro shots at different micro focal panes and then to put these together in post processing. Whiles this would get a great result, the work required, in the field and in processing, is labouring. And not only that - but there is also specialist gear involved - physical and software. Ideally you would have a tripod with a focusing rail and a specialist macro lens. I have none of these apart from a stock standard tripod. And in this case, there was no room or place to setup a tripod in the first place. 

Tatsuru, taken with the Asahi Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

So, although I did try to take a few focus stacks, they didn’t turn out great - as my focus was not critical - doing it by hand, and the framing was not consistent - doing it by hand as well. I have this consistent struggle with gear vs just being in the moment and capturing. Do I spend all the time, energy, and resources required to lug this gear up the massive climb, or you go minimal and make the best out of the gear that you have. As time elapses, I’m wanting to sit in latter camp. I still want to achieve a certain standard in my photography - that’s a personal gratification I get out of it.
If you’re out there - enjoy nature and remember some of things we see are exceedingly rare and unique.

Spotting a Keruru, taken with the Asahi Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4

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