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Updated 9:00 AM October 13, 2004




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Spotlight: Engaging the senses

Springtime may be in the distant past for Michiganders, but looking at Mike Gould's latest pictures from his mushroom hunting expedition last April, one could almost feel the warm breeze blowing.
(Photo by Theresa Gratsch)

Gould is an audio engineer, a writer, a Web designer and a mushroom lover. He also is a computer systems consultant and photographer at the School of Education (SOE). There, he supports and maintains computers for faculty and students, and gives seminars on computer and digital photography issues for faculty and staff.

Every spring, Gould disappears for a week with a group of fellow "roons," or morel hunters. On what is called "RoonQuest," they head for a secret spot beside a lake in Michigan's Lower Peninsula to hunt for morel mushrooms. Don't bother asking him where the spot is—he won't say.

"Morels have the strongest following after truffles, and they taste really good, sort of like mushrooms on steroids," Gould enthuses.

Morels come in brown, gray, black and white, and most of the colors resemble that of surrounding leaves. "You have to look really hard for them. On some days you might find 20, on others 2,500," Gould says. "And there is only a short window of time to find them."

Apart from the weeklong quest, Gould goes around to spots in Ann Arbor, where smaller quantities of morels can be found. For those who may be inspired to go mushroom hunting next spring, Gould cautions: "Research about mushrooms on the Web, and go out with somebody who already knows how to do it. You don't want to eat a mushroom that is poisonous."

His job at SOE is to help ensure that the school's computers run smoothly, and includes helping to maintain the wireless network. What keeps him going is that his work allows him to do what he loves.

Gould started getting serious about photography 10 years ago. "My favorite subject in photography is people. I want to capture the moment of somebody being themselves."

He has been able to do just that, both at SOE, and as a volunteer photographer for the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival.

At the school, he covers staff, faculty and students in action at conferences and educational events, and he recently began taking pictures at the Big House, where a number of education students play football.

He also loves photographing the festival and recently had some of his work featured in an exhibit at the Ann Arbor office of the law firm Dykema-Gossett. "I feel I do my best work photographing musicians. There is a concentration of emotion and focus in the performances that makes for great photography."

His interest in photography has blended well with his love of mushroom hunting, and he enjoys taking photos on the morel hunts. The combination is a pleasing one to Gould, who likes to tap into all his senses.

"Everything I do involves technology in some way. I use technology to preserve and record what my senses tell me," Gould says. "I use my senses to see, hear, taste or feel what I can of what is out there. Then I try to convey that to others via my writing, recording or photography."

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