2013 is turning out to be the year that the spiders ate Alabama. Everywhere you look there are webs or eight-legged creepy crawlies. For arachnophobics it’s turning out to be a nightmare year. For photographers though, it is a bounty of macro photography opportunity!
Retired Samford University professor and spider expert, Mike Howell, told AL.com that he’s “been observing spiders for 30 or 40 years or so and this seems to be the year of the spider.” Mr. Howell is also the author of “Spiders of the Eastern United States: A Photographic Guide,” a book I own and am referring to a lot this season in search of identifying spiders I’ve never seen before in 40+ years of living in Alabama.
So while the spiders are here, make the most of it and increase your photo collection!
Here are my
Top 5 Spider Photo Tips:
1. Check the background
Your background can make or break your photo! Darker colors will show the web better (generally) than sky behind the spider/web. Don’t be afraid to put something (posterboard, fabric, a notebook, etc) behind the subject if you need to do so for a striking color contrast!
2. Focus, focus, focus
When you are shooting small subjects with macro settings your depth of field often becomes a matter of millimeters. Pay close attention to your focus point and use manual focus to fine tune your shot.
Any shake is going to show in macro shots. That includes subject shake from wind blowing a web. Use the highest shutter speed possible and make sure your camera has a steady base (such as a bean bag or tripod) to get the most stable shot possible.
Basic portrait shots are nice but action shots really grab attention (and make arachnophobics run screaming to the hills but that can’t be helped). Try shooting head on or from underneath when your spider subject has prey. Just remember to brush up on your spider behavior first. Some spiders leap after prey instead of catching it in a web and even if you aren’t afraid of spiders if you get caught in the crossfire and wind up with a spider on your face you are likely to do the panic dance.
5. Add light
Use a diffused flash or a reflector to add some light to the shadows and get the best details out of your spiders! If you don’t have a diffuser make one by layering cheesecloth over your flash. If you don’t have a reflector, cover a piece of cardboard in aluminum foil.