Moon Spider

This weekend, a friend and I did a night shoot together at nearby Lake Weatherford.  Our goal was some moonlight reflecting on water kind of shots.  We arrived and set up on a peer at twilight Saturday night.  I soon found myself in a fight with my tripod.  It was dark and difficult to see, but i soon discovered that the screw was almost all the way out preventing me from adjusting it to horizontal level.  When I attempted to screw it back in, it wouldn’t go back in and I didn’t have any light or tools with me to try to figure out why.  I was crestfallen, being unable to use my tripod and quickly concluding that the shoot was probably going to be a bust for me and I was likely going to spend my evening watching my friend take wonderful photos.

When all seemed lost however, in the dim soft glow of the moonlight glistening off the lake, I happened to notice a spider in the middle of a web under the upper part of the railing along the edge of the dock!  Hmmmmmm, I said to myself, I bet I can get some interesting macro shots of that spider framed in the moon!  I quickly removed my telephoto, slapped on my 90mm macro, laid down on my side and started playing with my camera!  It took me a good while and quite a few shots to finally get two that I liked.  For one thing, each time I’d get everything framed, focused and my exposure compensation just the way I wanted it, the silly thing would move an inch or two and I’d have to recompose.  At one point, a June beetle got caught in the web and the spider briefly went nuts until, luckily for me, the June beetle’s own weight caused it to fall out of the web into the drink below.  At least One other time I was all ready to press the shutter button and a mosquito started buzzing around my ear (we both forgot insect repellent, but I think I managed to avoid being bitten.  West Nile Virus has been a growing problem here).

Anyway, I ended up with three useful captures of this arachnid.  The first was focused and exposed just the way I wanted (-2ev: F5 1/25″ iso1600).  I failed to nail the focus on the second one, partly because it decided to move just as I released the shutter and I had the shutter too slow due to a too small an aperture (-3ev: F11 1/15″ iso3200), but I really like the composition and scene of that one better.

I kept one other shot of a heron (the first scene I shot) that I took right at the end of twilight.  I had wanted to get it with a little more light, but I burned up almost all of twilight trying to get my tripod to work, then switching lenses in the dark.  I finally just raised the ISO to an obscene level and braced the camera against the railing (-2.3ev F7.1 1/6″ iso6400) and wild-hair guessed on the focus (so dark).  As I expected it turned out a technically crappy snap, but my artsy side likes it because of the combination of low light, the shadows, and the enhanced ISO noise due to cropping, made for an interesting image.

I then did a third shot of the spider from the side with flash to actually capture the spider itself:



  1. Becky Reed
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink | Reply

    Jim, looking again at these spider pictures–they are wonderful. I think you should enter them in a photo contest. I’m very impressed. I’ve been reading up on night photography–hopefully next time, I’ll get some better shots. I think maybe it would help if i knew more about how my camera works, so that’s where I’m starting. It was a fun evening–except for the mosquitos, but I only got one bite. Good blog!

    • Posted July 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks Becky! The moon rises at 6:29 tonite & 7:18 Tuesday. If you still want to do it again tonite or Tue, i’m down! I think Tue will be better. If you want, I can work w/you some, bring your manual though b/c yours is different from mine. BTW, I did fix my tripod – bolt was slightly bent?!

  2. Anonymous
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    Very artistic shots…YOOUR TALENT SHOWS!

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