Arachnophobobes, Avert Thy Eyes: The Annual Spider Issue – Guest Article by Steve Russell

_MG_9948-13They’re creepy and they’re crawly; they cause more screams and heart palpitations per millimeter of length than just about any other creature; and they make great models for photo shoots as long as they don’t jump onto the photographer (i.e., ME) or crawl into the camera bag.

Spiders. Arachnids. Orb weavers. Stalkers. Jumpers. Trappers. Lightning fast. Lumbering slow. Menacing eyes (all eight of them). Cute and innocent looking. Camouflaged or black as night. Colorfully marked. There are all kinds, but in nearly all cases when they are enlarged on the computer screen they become humongous monsters that feed our primal fears.

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This time of year – as Halloween approaches, not coincidentally – orb weavers are everywhere, their webs bridging every branch, secured to every mailbox, and spanning every porch. There are plenty of photo ops for those who can override their urge to take ‘em out. It’s a fascinating world to behold up close even if the images do make their way into your dreams and nightmares.

These images were all shot within the past year in their natural environment except the tarantula, which I was fortunate enough to shoot with permission at the Bug Museum in Bremerton, WA. Against the wishes of my inner exterminator, I actually held the gentle giant in my own hand and survived. Oh, one of these is not actually a spider, but a Garden Harvester, an eight-legged insect – can you guess which one it is?

Most of the images were shot with my Tamron 90mm VC Macro lens, but two close-ups of very small spiders were shot with my Canon 65E Macro lens. All of these had a splash of flash from a Canon MT-24EX Twin Lite Flash, and of course, I shot them all with my trusty Canon 5D Mark II camera.

Steve Russell