Can I get a little privacy here?

Orb-weaver spider

After 10 days of studying Charlotte, my favorite orb-weaver spider, I was disappointed that I had yet to get a good portrait of her. You know, the kind of professional image that she’d be proud to display on her LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts – assuming spiders had a need for social media. The challenge has been that she’s only active after nightfall, and she sleeps curled in a protective ball during the day. A profile pic of a spider at slumber would be akin to one of a person couch-potatoing with a giant bag of Doritos. Well, an exaggeration perhaps, but still – I was convinced this spider needed a better photo to showcase her face to the world. 

Fortunately, as a hobby photographer, I have plenty of camera and lighting gear to get the job done. So, last night, I set up a continuous studio light to provide some environmental lighting (it’s dark in that garden), in addition to employing flash to bring out the highlights in Charlotte’s beautiful eyes. Up to this point, I had avoided excessive lighting out of respect for nature. I simply didn’t want to negatively impact Charlotte’s routine. As a result, I promised her that the paparazzi circus would only take a couple minutes, and would certainly be much quicker if she cooperated. Well, the challenge of shooting this tiny creature in nearly pitch dark with a macro lens is holding the camera steady. The web is located a bit too high for me to use a tripod without a ladder, and considering I’m a klutz, this is not gonna happen. 

When all was said and done, the tenth shot (the first nine were a blur of spider legs and hair) was a happy compromise. You can at least see her larger eyes (off to the sides), and a glimpse of a couple smaller ones at the very front. I’ll admit, I was eager to capture a few more frames. However, I abandoned that plan when Charlotte’s inner celebrity came out, and she covered her face in defiance. Hey, even spiders need a little privacy.

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