The mouse, the moon and the mosquito

Alex Badyaev's Image

Alexander was taking his daily hike along a trail in the Blackfoot Valley, western Montana, USA, when he noticed a giant puffball mushroom starting to inflate.

Squirrels, chipmunks and mice began exploring and scent-marking the surface of the oversized fungus leaving it covered with tiny prints. Alex returned to the spot during a full Moon, when the puffball had reached its maximum size. He lay on the ground, watching and waiting, entertained by the dozens of small animals exploring the puffball. The most frequent visitors were deer mice, which scampered around, sometimes pausing to check on their surroundings. To avoid disturbing the animals, and to preserve the sense of place, Alex used the Moon as his backlighting. He relied on a long exposure and a gentle pulse of flash to show the curve of the fungus and to capture the frantic activity. When one deer mouse paused for a moment to investigate a persistent mosquito, the perfect midnight puffball scene was created.


Behind the lens

Alex Badyaev

Alex Badyaev

Russia/USA

Alex, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, USA, is a regular contributor to several international natural history magazines. His scientific work, nature photography and popular science writing have all earned him major awards. His images tell stories about species, capturing their essence and revealing rarely seen behaviours.

Image details

  • Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
  • 105mm lens
  • 2.5 sec at f14  •   ISO 250
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