I was doing some yard work yesterday while my kids were enjoying some time outside. The three ran over to me and told me to come and take care of something. Once we got by the trampoline, they pointed out a spider’s web that was nicely placed on the step ladder leading up to the trampoline. They told me to take care of it, but I nicely declined and said, “I’ll take care of it once I photograph it.” However, the yard work kept me busy until the sun went down, and other in-house responsibilities kept me from getting out there to capture it at night. So once I got ready for work, I hauled my gear (tripod, squirt bottle, camera with 100mm macro lens attached, and a drying rag) out to the backyard. The web was still there in all its glory, so I found a good background and snapped off a few shots.
Once I felt I had some great dry photos of the web, I draped the cloth over the end of my lens (just to prevent any droplets from landing on the glass) and sprayed the spider’s web until the water droplets stood out. I found that with the slight breeze and the weight of the water droplets, it was harder to get a crisp shot because the heavier web would move easier in the wind. The droplets were also quick to evaporate off the web, so I had to be fast. Out of the hundred or so photos, here is one of my favorites from the shoot.
Canon 60D | 100mm macro lens | 1/500 | f/2.8 | ISO 640 | RAW
The reason I titled this post as my first successful, is because the last time I tried photographing a spider’s web I was a teenager on a camping trip with my little point and shoot. Let me just say it was a waste of film and development.
I think the key to getting the spider web to show up best in the photo is to have the web between the camera and the sun. This seems to provide backlighting to illuminate the strands. It also helps to have a dark background (which in this case was a large tree in my neighbor’s yard) so you get better contrast. The sky was too bright and blue for the web to show up.
It was a fun little photo shoot, and at one point the spider even jumped out from hiding to do a little arranging of the strands in the center of the web, before retreating. I snapped some photos of the spider, but I couldn’t get things to stand still with the breeze blowing.
I think this photo, along with some of the other photos I’ve snapped with water droplets in them, prove that every macro photographer should have a good squirt bottle in their toolbox. 🙂