Bioluminescence – Big South Fork

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October 14, 10:00 a.m., found me standing at the trailhead to Charit Creek Lodge in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. My mission was to locate and/or collect bioluminescent fungi for Silver Media to use in a documentary on the BSFNRA they were producing for the National Park Service.

Don O’Brien, their President and Director, had been put in contact with me last year by Matt Peterson, a former student interested in mushrooms and working at Charit Creek Lodge. I was to meet the crew that evening at the lodge and take them out for a nighttime filming.

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There was a new moon and clear skies that night, and I thought I might find either some Honey Mushrooms, Jack O’Lanterns or Panellus stipticus for them to use. As it turns out I found some Panellus almost immediately on the hike into the gorge as well as several other locations near the lodge. Even with trail hiking and bushwhacking over 5 miles that day and the next, I never came across Jacks or Honeys,but the Panellus was sufficient.

Panellus stipticusThe picture at the left is of a collection made at the NAMA Foray two weeks before.It was quite educational observing the crew set up the photo shoot after dark, in situ, about 100 yards from the lodge. In case you are interested they used an ISO 3200 with a 24 sec exposure.

 

 

EMbiolumThe picture to the left is from the web site of Everything Mushrooms in Knoxville (click on picture to go there) which sells Panellus sawdust spawn to those who wishing to try growing their own crop of bioluminescent fungi. I will update this post with the Silver Fir Media images when they become available. What is really cool about theirs is they are in video rather than just still shots. Using a remote/programmable camera mounted on a rail track, a series of over 100 images were taken as the camera tracked. These images are then sequenced to animate a scanning image (10 sec) of the fungus colony. Some soft LED lighting was set up in the surrounding woods so that the substrate (wooden branch they were growing on) can be subtlety distinguished. It’s quite captivating.

This was an especially enjoyable adventure for me because Silver Fir Media also produced the NPS documentary on the Obed Wild and Scenic River which featured my friend Billy Bob Scarborough. My wife and I were long time open boat tandem paddlers, and Billy Bob guided our first descents on the Obed system. He also led a few  memorable trips down the Big South Fork gorge. So, the documentary brings back a lot of good memories and some not so pleasurable, but educational, like flipping at the entrance to Rocking Chair rapid on Daddy’s Creek in high water – a long and dangerous swim. We appreciate his rescue skills.