2024 Edition

Soumya Ranjan Bhattacharyya

Galaxies at my feet

Yellow planthopper on a fungus, India, 2022

Category - Into the forest

Galaxies at my feet

While visiting the moist deciduous forest on the outskirts of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in Goa, in the late monsoon season, I was able to observe the spore dispersal of bracket fungi, also known as shelf or polypore fungi. As I was photographing a group of these fungi at night, which grow in tiers on the bark of large trees, a yellow planthopper came to sit on one of them, amidst the volutes created by the vigorous dispersal of their spores. I backlit the scene with a flashlight to bring out all the magic. When the sporing became more intense, the insect flew away. The Western Ghats, covering an area of 140,000 km², are one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, home to a large proportion of India's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic.

105 mm f/2.8 Lens - 1/200 sec at f/8 ISO 1000