Spring Babies: The Good, The Bad, and The Creepy

Spring finally arrived in the Northwest and new life popped up in familiar places. The Mallards and Canada Geese babies showed up at the local park and in the macro world, hundreds of tiny orb weaver spiders emerged from their nest in the eave of the roof over my deck. The subjects were a study in contrasts: the ducklings and goslings were as cute as could be; the mass of scrambled, translucent baby spiders were as creepy as it gets. Photographically, the challenge for both was using and creating light that would set apart these images from standard snapshots.

At the lake I waited for the sun to be low to the horizon and utilized the very different effects of side, back, and front light to shoot the ducks and geese. A few steps one way or another often enhanced the light dramatically. I also experimented with on-camera flash after the sun went down (bending the Speedlite to 45 degrees and pulling the white card out an inch to create a catch light, just like I learned in Summer Intensive).

The spiders required the use of a ring flash because of their constant movement and the lack of light under the eve. I shot in P-mode, hand held, and manually focused by moving the camera back and forth ever so slightly as I shot away. All of this while standing on a ladder pointing the camera upward and turning blue holding my breath for long periods of time. I did use a tripod for the full web image – one of the spiders had made it down near the deck on day four and had woven its own web. Amazing.

Whether you are attracted to or repelled by these subjects, shooting Spring babies is a great opportunity to experiment with natural light and flash. Just be sure to brush yourself off when you’re done.

Click on each thumbnail to see it larger.