19 Sep 2015

How to photograph spiders' webs



There are, undeniably, moments of staggering beauty in the Autumn garden, whether in the way that plants have grown together to form a living collage or the many many webs that spiders have woven between the plants and supports.

My veg garden has lain undisturbed, except for torrential rain, for the past week so I was expecting to see plenty of spiders and their webs this morning.  I was reminded of a blog post I'd read recently in which the blogger said she walks into the garden waving her arms in front of her at this time of year for fear of walking through webs. (I apologise as I can't actually remember who it was that wrote that!) I haven't done that yet but I have brushed webs out of my hair and off my face many times during this so-called summer.



And so it was that I went to the garden early this morning armed with a cunning plan, my digital SLR camera and a spray bottle of water. Any spray will do but Ikea do one for 80p. Also good for ironing ;o)

If there was any dew this morning, it had all gone by 7.30 am when I went down to the garden. Time to put my plan into action.  Spray, so I knew where the webs were, and then - why not? - photograph them.

I am, of course, just getting my eye in before we get proper dew in the garden but I hope you agree it worked rather well. Plus it's an excellent way to show children how big the webs are, before scurrying back indoors to read Charlotte's Web. Now wouldn't that be something, to find a web with a message in it!



A few key points:

  • Spray in a light mist across the web. You may need to go back and forth across the strands a few times and you'll be surprised at  how far some of the webs stretch!
  • Have your camera ready as spiders may make a bolt for safety.
  • On a still day, dial your camera to aperture/AV (rather than speed/TV) and set the aperture to a low number. This will blur out the background but you will need to have precise focus on the web. 
  • Try to have a dark background to make the web stand out.
  • This is best done in early morning or the cool of the evening when there are more spiders about.
Edited to add:  One last tip - be patient and take your time.  It's worth it for the right shot and you'll see a lot more of the delicate beauty in your garden. 





I do love spiders' webs but how about you? What's catching your eye in the garden this Autumn?
And do you have any good tips to share on photographing the garden?


28 comments:

  1. Lovely photos Caro. As it happens I was out photographing spiders' webs this morning, it was really misty and they were all covered in droplets. I had difficulty focusing on the web, the camera wanted to focus on the background. So I focused on something else about the right distance away, half pressed the shutter button, moved the camera to the web and moved in until it was all in focus. Or at least, I hope it's in focus, haven't checked yet! I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend. CJ xx

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    1. That's a great tip, CJ! It's so frustrating when the camera won't latch on to the subject you want to photograph. If that happens to me (which it does, frequently *sigh*), I always check the photo straightaway and zoom in on my camera to make sure the focus is sharp - and, if not, take another photo straightaway! Thanks for the tip! xx

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  2. Martyn once took a piece video of a spider building its web. It was fascinating to watch. I have taken pictures of spiders webs with a frost on them they come out really well too.

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    1. Frosted spiders' webs sounds gorgeous, Sue! I don't often get a ground frost in the garden here (too many heat retaining walls) but it's certainly something to look out for. You've reminded me of a time when I had a spider's nest in a web on my balcony - if the web was jiggled in the tiniest way, all the baby spiders would scatter outwards across the web. As peace was restored they all came back to the centre in a tight ball - completely fascinating to watch and, yes, I was there for a good long while!

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    2. Having read Veg Plotting's reply, below, I'm now wondering whether Martyn uses a tripod when taking photos, Sue? The two of you get some wonderful photos and patiently wait for the right moment. Aha, that's another tip that I must add! Cx

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    3. I don't use tripod as I can't move the camera about as freely and for macros I set the lense ti wide angle and get in as close as possible. For moving objects I also use burst a lot

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  3. My tip is to buy a tripod to give your camera greater stability. You can get a decent one for about £30, and it can make a big difference. Hinders spontaneity a bit, but then your spider-photographing expedition was anything but spontaneous!

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    1. Too true, Mark - I stepped back indoors to pick up my spray bottle when I remembered the webs I was likely to encounter! I have to confess I've never used a tripod for my photos as I move around to get the best angles - plus my garden is so closely planted and such a small space it would be tricky to firmly place a tripod. I think one would be very useful for long shots or landscapes as I always seem to capture a sloping horizon! Ah, just thought, I don't have a large lens on my camera but a longer telephoto lens would definitely benefit from a tripod - thanks for highlighting this useful accessory, Mark!

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  4. We had plenty of dew this morning to make the webs show up, it certainly makes photographing them easier.

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    1. We haven't had dew yet, Pauline, which is a shame - it really does make the webs look so pretty. I guess I won't have to wait for long though, autumn is definitely upon us!

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  5. What a coincidence! I've been photographing spiders webs as I've encountered plenty of predator/prey action this week. I particularly like your top photo.

    I'm taking a photography course at the moment and the take away tip from that would be to put some black card behind the web. Until the course started I would have been perfectly happy with a photo like yours, but it's made me look again at how distracting a background can be, even when you've taken a lot of trouble to blur it.

    Re Mark's comment about a tripod and your reply, I've seen a few people using a monopod on garden bloggers' flings - provides better stability than hand held, and can be used in tighter spots than a tripod.

    My cure for my sloping horizon problem was to start using a camera with a viewfinder again. It works :)

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. Good tip about the monopod; I'd forgotten about those and can see how they'd be useful in a tight situation. Your course is certainly giving you a broader outlook on garden photography. It sounds very interesting - really pleased that you're sharing on your blog! The black card background is a good tip but I like to give a sense of place to my photos which I wouldn't get without a garden background. And I must admit I cure my sloping background problem with Photoshop!!

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    2. I correct lopsidedness in the computer too but use Lightroom

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    3. VPs tip about black card is a good one - I so use cikored paper backgrounds when at home as it would be a pain to carry them around.
      Martyn uses a monopod when videoing as it is easy to swivel and when collapsed is easier to carry but he prefers freehand for photos
      I set guides in my viewfinder and then are so focused on the object that I forget to use them

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  6. An interesting post and fascinating photos. I enjoy looking at spider's webs, but taking pictures of them is problematical with my old point and shot camera.
    I'm still enjoying the various flowers on the plot, with the asters still to come. I always try to take fewer but better pictures, but don't always succeed. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks, Flighty. As VP says above, it's best to lose the background which is not easy with a point and shoot camera. I love autumn for the last flourish of flowers and bought some asters a while back specifically to have flowers in the autumn. I think you've taken some wonderful photos for your blog, especially of your flowers! xx

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  7. I love you web shots all the trouble you took was worth it. I've been admiring some that are draped across the teasel by my sitting room window, definitely the season for them x

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    1. Thanks Jo - spiders' webs are magical, aren't they? How lovely to have one right outside your window! It's one of the best things about Autumn - and misty mornings with weak sunshine always remind me of Pride and Prejudice, the end scene. Lovely. x

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  8. Your spider webs are beautiful and there are some good tips here both from you and your followers. I will have to experiment! Sarah x

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. I experimented because there were so many beautiful webs but no mist or dew here. It won't be long before we have plenty of misty mornings and no need for spray bottles! x

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  9. I cure my sloping horizon in Photoshop too! Lovely photos, and excellent tips, I shall have to try the spray bottle trick.

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    1. I agree, some of the tips are excellent. I love these little conversations that get going in the comments! So funny that we're both lopsided - even when I concentrate my photos slope!

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    2. Those are the spiders I am most scared of but I'll tolerate them for the beauty of their webs. Lovely photos.

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    3. I must admit I try very hard to not get tangled up in the webs - as much as I love looking at the wildlife in my garden, I'd prefer not to bring it home on my hair or jacket! Especially big wolf like spiders! x

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  10. What a lovely post! I enjoy spiders webs too and would simply love to find a message in one. A marvelous tip re the mist too and how to photograph them.We have huge spiders all over the house now, I've just had to move one from the bath as daughter has a horror of them.xxx

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    1. Thanks, Dina. Our offspring think alike about spiders and I always move them outside - no spider squishing allowed in my home! When I had a ground floor flat, I had huge black spiders scuttling around indoors in the autumn/winter months so I perfected my technique of catching them to remove. xx

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  11. spiders are probably thinking, I just got the dew dried off this web, now it's wet AGAIN!! ha ha. beautiful photos.

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    1. That's hilarious! Love it, thanks for making me chuckle. x

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Caro x

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