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PHOTOS: Discovering The Hidden World Of Fungi In Western North Carolina

"I was drawn to these Mock Oyster Mushrooms by their beauty and their smell, reminiscent of rotten eggs," said E.J. Dwigans, an Asheboro resident who also works as a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Gorges State Park.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
"I was drawn to these Mock Oyster Mushrooms by their beauty and their smell, reminiscent of rotten eggs," said E.J. Dwigans, an Asheboro resident who also works as a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Gorges State Park.

For E.J. Dwigans, the intersection of nature and photography is where he most likes to be.

"My favorite place to take photos is the forest, any forest," said Dwigans, 26, of Brevard. "There are so many hidden facets of nature that many people never get the opportunity to see."

Instagram: @shroomiej

Dwigans has always been interested in photography but became more serious about it five years ago when he started taking photos of fungi and plants to identify when he got home after hiking.

Luckily, he often finds himself outdoors as a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Gorges State Park.

"While I don't get paid for my photos, my reward comes from teaching people about things they never knew existed that can be found right in their own backyard,"  he said. "I am often able to fuse my love of nature photography with my work, teaching visitors about the hidden and unseen world around us."

#wuncphotos: Share your North Carolina photos with WUNC on Instagram

Related: Finding Beauty And Adventure In Everyday Moments

Dwigans sometimes uses a Canon EOS t3i for his photography but more often than not, he shoots on his iPhone6.

His advice for people: "Make time for nature. Walk through the woods and when you do try to slow down, notice the little things because what you discover might astound and inspire you."

Note: This is the third installment in an occasional series profiling North Carolina photographers.

"This edible Cauliflower Mushroom often looks more like flower than fungi," said E.J. Dwigans.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
"This edible Cauliflower Mushroom often looks more like flower than fungi," said E.J. Dwigans.

Shaggy-stalked Bolete (Heimioporus betula). This bizarre looking mushroom is common in the mixed pine-oak forests of Southern Appalachia.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
Shaggy-stalked Bolete (Heimioporus betula). This bizarre looking mushroom is common in the mixed pine-oak forests of Southern Appalachia.

Mushrooms like this Oak Bracket Polypore exhibit guttation, in which excess water is excreted through their pores.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
Mushrooms like this Oak Bracket Polypore exhibit guttation, in which excess water is excreted through their pores.

Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms.

False Turkey Tail mushroom. The true Turkey Tail mushroom is a powerful medicinal with anti-tumor properties.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
False Turkey Tail mushroom. The true Turkey Tail mushroom is a powerful medicinal with anti-tumor properties.

This soft, fluffy slime mold is known as Chocolate Tube Slime.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
This soft, fluffy slime mold is known as Chocolate Tube Slime.
Honey Mushrooms after a short-lived rainstorm.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
Honey Mushrooms after a short-lived rainstorm.
Northern Tooth Fungus. These mushrooms feed on the innermost portion of a tree causing heart rot. Eventually the tree may weaken to a point in which it will snap in a strong wind.
E.J. Dwigans
/
www.instagram.com/shroomiej
Northern Tooth Fungus. These mushrooms feed on the innermost portion of a tree causing heart rot. Eventually the tree may weaken to a point in which it will snap in a strong wind.

Copyright 2016 North Carolina Public Radio

Elizabeth “Liz” Baier is WUNC’s Digital News Editor. She joined the station in May 2016 after eight year of reporting for Minnesota Public Radio News where she covered everything from demographic changes in rural America, agriculture, the environment and health care. Prior to that, Liz worked for six years as a newspaper reporter in South Florida, both at the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
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