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Photography Question 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
 

How to Photograph a Tunnel Spider


 
 
Hi folks,
I am trying to capture a good image of a tunnel spider. If you are not familiar with this species, I’ll try to explain what I am attempting to do: tunnel spiders build webs that actually form tunnels into which the spider builds a temporary home and where s/he takes prey. These are also fairly shy spiders and do not often show themselves when the sun is out. For two days, I have been trying to capture a good image of this spider. I’ve been using my 100mm lens with a 36mm and a 20mm extension tube stacked; used the 100 lens solo; used a full stack of 12, 20 and 36 mm extension tubes that brought me close to the spider, but the result was still not good. I’ve metered on the dark spider and averaged this against the much lighter web material and still not been able to achieve a good image. Any advice or insight will be hugely appreciated!

Irene


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8/31/2007 4:22:19 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Irene,
Meter the green grass, not the spider or the web ... and shooting on a cloudy day will help to minimize that contrast. I only have one shot of these secretive spiders. They usually scoot back into that tunnel whenever I try to get close.


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9/1/2007 2:04:45 AM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
 
 
 
Thanks Bob! I went out again early this morning, before the sun really got up in the sky, and tried again to capture a good image of this elusive spider. This is my result. It is better than the other two, but I would still like to get his ‘face’ clearer. This may be impossible since these spiders really are shy and as soon as the air warms they are gone. At least this image shows the complex web and the spider itself a little clearer. Thanks again!

Irene


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9/1/2007 8:44:23 AM

 
Ellen Anon   One of the things that can be helpful when photographing subjects in tricky lighting is to check the histogram. It can help guide you with the exposure. As you discovered, shooting before the sun is too high helps. Using a reflector or diffuser may also help even out the light.


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9/1/2007 10:15:30 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Thank you, Ellen. I had to smile a little about the advice to shoot in early morning when the sun is not yet over the horizon very much. I am the ‘queen’ of lecturing people that the best time of the day to photograph most outdoors subjects is early morning or late afternoon. And yet, with this subject I first noticed the spider around 9am when the sun was already strong in the sky and contrast was great. I should have known better! Anyway, yesterday I managed to make a few shots very early, around 6am, and those came out somewhat better. About ten minutes into photographing, it suddenly dawned on me that this was a good situation for trying my new diffuser/reflector. I placed the panel so that the sun did not directly hit the bush or spider and then moved my camera so that the sun was on the side and coming through the diffuser. Again, this helped and the result is the image above. I am still not happy with the results and will try again – unfortunately, this particular spider was dead when I got back to the bush early today. However, around here there should be others and once I find one I will try again until I get the image I want. Thank you, again, for your advice.

Irene


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9/2/2007 6:33:23 AM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Oh Ellen, one other thing that I forgot to mention; I just picked up your book the other day and have already found it of great use and interest! I love the new PS CS3! It has so many features that are of significant value to photographers. Now I just have to take time to work my way through your book and learn the new techniques!

Irene


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9/2/2007 6:37:02 AM

 
Ellen Anon   Thanks Irene, I appreciate that! I just finished creating a couple course for BetterPhoto based on the book. I too think CS3 has a lot of great new features!

It sounds like with some perseverance you'll get your shot. If it was completely easy, it might not be as special when you do get it!

Good luck and thanks again,

Ellen


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9/2/2007 8:41:31 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Irene,
I too should have recommended diffusing that harsh sunlight but I see that you thought of it anyway.

If you want to see an example of how a cheap hand-held diffuser can minimize glare and soften harsh shadows, click here and scroll down to the mushroom cap photos.

Bob


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9/2/2007 12:32:07 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
Carlton's Gallery
carltonwardphoto.com
  Just stumbled across this article of a 200 yard spiderweb - wow.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003861683_web31.html

Carlton


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9/2/2007 5:33:50 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  WOW! Carlton, that is a web and a half! I wonder what type spider(s) actually wove the web and who lives and feeds there. Really neat – thanks!

Irene


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9/3/2007 8:39:49 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Interesting article Carlton.
It seems as though the arachnid community has their own eccentric types who feel that bigger MUST be better. :)

Bob


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9/3/2007 3:17:08 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
 
 
 
In nature photography there is an inviolate rule: KNOW YOUR SUBJECT! Well, I sure broke the rule on this subject! I finally did some online research and learned several things about funnel spiders – including the fact that they are called “funnel” not “tunnel” – first: there are over 400 varieties of these spiders in North America; second: the type most common in my area is active during the night, not during the day. Last evening I walked out onto my deck and discovered four active webs. I spent over an hour photographing various spiders and have uploaded two of those images to show the amazing wonder of these remarkable spiders. Thank you to all who took the time to offer advice and guidance. I promise never to forget the first rule of knowing my subject!

Irene


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9/4/2007 4:39:12 AM

 
Ellen Anon   I think you learned a lot and it;s great that you shared it with everyone - especially the basic principles! You got some nice shots!


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9/4/2007 5:13:48 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  You really nailed those two Irene!

They are really tough to capture before they scoot back into that "funnel/tunnel"

Bob


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9/4/2007 7:46:58 AM

 
Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/3/2005
  Irene, are you using a flash... a ring flash would really help out here.


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9/5/2007 1:20:02 PM

 
Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/3/2005
  Irene, are you using a flash... a ring flash would really help out here.


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9/5/2007 1:20:03 PM

 
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