Little Miss Muffet…
Spiders. Few things are more unnerving. When I was six years old I freaked out and crashed my bike when one crawled onto my wrist. I’ve had a love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with them ever since. And, as accustomed to them as I’ve become since shooting them up-close (as in photography, not guns), I still get creeped out when my head catches an invisible web or I find one inside my shower.
But spiders, through the magnification of a macro lens, are as amazing as they are creepy. I’ve seen a small, white, web-less, crab spider attack a bee that is five times its size. I witnessed a tiny, hairy, bug-eyed (all eight of them), jumping spider leap onto, instantly immobilize, and begin devouring a larger flying insect that had stopped briefly to rest nearby. (Note to reader: it later jumped onto my lens three times.) For the last month I’ve watched a large-abdomened spider perched on its web inside an outdoor skylight over my deck and seen it catch, quickly silk-wrap, and consume a number of its smaller and VERY common cousins when they unsuspectingly venture onto its web. Once again I’m reminded that as beautiful as nature can be, particularly in the right light and under magnification, it is equally as brutal and raw.
I shot the included photos in one of two ways depending on how accessible and mobile the spiders were. I used either a Canon 7D with 70-200mm lens and 500D closeup filter (handheld for the frisky and hard to get at spiders) or a Canon 5D Mark II with cable release and Tamron 90mm macro lens and extension tube on a tripod. The speed I could shoot depended a lot on the amount of light, but as a general rule I would try to keep the ISO as low as possible to saturate the detail as much as I could. Usually I shot at f/16 or f/18 (my lens’ DOF sweet spot) unless I purposely wanted a shallow DOF (with the focus on the eyes) for effect.
The micro world of spiders is a fascinating, beautiful, and fun one to shoot, just so long as they stay in their world and not in mine.