Spiders are an excellent subject for the macro photographer. Spiders and their webs can create a truly unique and interesting macro shot as long as you know the right technique to capture it. In this article you will learn everything you need to know to take amazing macro spider photographs.
Gear Needed For Spider Macro Photography
A macro lens is the most important piece of equipment in spider macro photography. A 100mm macro lens is perfect for shooting spiders. The focal length of a 100mm balances the slight movement that spiders have. A 50mm would be a little better if you can find it, because it has a wider field of view, but the 100mm is more than enough for all types of spider shots.
A dedicated macro photography camera can also help elevate your image quality. You can read my best macro photography camera guide but what your camera should offer is a live view feature or a flip out LCD screen so that you can compose your shots easier and not having to point the camera at the subject, which is very hard if you are shooting a spider from above.
A tripod is also critical for macro photography, especially with spiders and their webs. The spider is small and the slightest movement with handholding your camera can ruin an image. Having a tripod will stabilize your system and allow you to shoot at higher ISOs if needed. You will also be able to hold your camera steadier and not have shake affect your images.
A camera remote shutter release is also critical, so that you don’t accidently shake the camera while you are taking your shot. A remote shutter release can be used with a macro photography tripod and it will allow you to take your shot without having to touch the camera. It is especially important if you are shooting a spider from above.
Finally, an off camera flash or some sort of lighting system will help light your spider adequately in shots where the spider is not directly lit by the sun.
Macro Settings for Spiders
When you are shooting with a macro lens, your depth of field is extremely shallow. This means that a slight difference in your distance to the subject can change your focus greatly in terms of where the lens is focused. When you are shooting spiders, I would recommend starting at f/11 and then experiment with the depth of field settings from there to get the look that you want for your particular shot.
Spiders move a lot, so whenever possible I recommend shooting them with your shutter speed set to a fast 1/250th of a second. This will give you enough time to focus on the spider before the shutter releases and it will give you the ability to capture motion shots as well. If you are in good lighting conditions or shooting at night, then it might be unnecessary to shoot 1/250th of a second.
Spider Photography Tips
Photographing spiders can be difficult because they are so small but there are a few things that you can do to improve your spider macro photography.
The first is to make sure that you find a spider early in the morning, just after sunrise. This is because spiders are very territorial and the early morning is when they will be out and about the most. The second thing is to find a calm day with little wind. Spider webs are very light and any wind will disturb them and destroy your shot.
The third thing you can do is to have your spider photographed in different lighting conditions. Always use a light source to illuminate the spider and then take your shot. If you do not have an off camera flash then you can use your camera’s built in flash. But always use natural light when available.
Use shadows to create an interesting scene. If you have a white background in your shot then use shadows to bring more depth into the image.
The fourth tip is to shoot at different angles. Move around your subject so that you can see the entire web from every angle and try to create an interesting composition.
Do not be afraid to take multiple photos of a spider in different positions and then choose which photo best presents the spider.
Spider Web Photography Safety Tips
The very first thing that you need to keep in mind when shooting spiders is safety. Some species of spider are dangerous. If you are afraid of spiders these tips will help you get around your fear. However, if you really dislike spiders then it would be best to leave this photography endeavor alone and find something else to photograph.
The first thing to keep in mind is that most spiders are not aggressive. Most spiders almost never want to bite you. If they do bite you, it is usually because they felt threatened or scared by your movement.
The best way to deal with spiders is to be careful and quiet around them. Think before you move and keep your hands away from their webs. It will take a little while for the spider to get used to seeing you but once it does, it will eventually stop striking its web when you go near it.
Spider macro photography is an amazing way to get close to these beautiful creatures. It can be a bit tricky at first but if you take your time and work patiently you will get some great shots. Macro photography requires a lot of patience and the ability to not be noticed by the subject that you are photographing. If you can master these skills then your spider macro photography will be better than ever!