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Old May 23, 2010, 2:26 AM   #1
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Default This Jumping Spider thing can be addicting. . .

Hi All,

Went back to the Nature Center to try to get some more shots of Jumping Spiders. I found about 20 really tiny ones on one wall, and assumed they were babies (1-3mm bodies -- I needed to take a few shots at close to 2:1 and chimp them just to see what they were). I just sat down on the sidewalk, set up the K20, Sigma 180, 1.7x AFA, and the Metz Macro Slave and waited to see if anything bigger appeared.

After about 10 minutes, I saw two dark spots on an adjacent wall, and went over to see what they were. The first was a housefly. . . The second was a black and white Jumping Spider maybe about 6-7mm long (just the body)! I started shooting, remembering to shoot at longer distances to get more DOF.

This guy's not as cute as the smaller brown ones, but those eyes still look like big round goggles, and it was still small enough not to seem threatening at all, even when it filled the VF. The one thing that was disconcerting was that it jumped a couple of times with no warning, and this happens so quickly that it just seemed to disappear into thin air, and looking through a macro, even though my brain knows that it's over 2 feet away, it just looks like it's right in front of my face, so I immediately recoiled and pulled my head away from the camera, then looked around to make sure it didn't jump on me -- I don't like crawly things on me. . .

Here are some of the shots from this set. I thought it would be a nightmare trying to keep some detail on the black body against a white background, but the K20 and Metz just handled it. . .Notice the iridescent green chelicerae (these are like jaws or mandibles, and the fangs they use to paralyze their prey are located on the ends of these).

It was a little challenging to keep up when it was walking, but the combination of the K20's AF C and the quickness of the 1.7x AFA did pretty well.

This is a reasonably close crop.

After noticing the long shadow, I decided to take a less extreme crop, and used some PP to give it something like a "golden hour" warmth. . . don't know how effective this is, but I thought it worth trying. . .let me know what you think. . .

This one's from a little closer, and you can see how the DOF gets a bit thinner.

The next set was after a while. I'd been following this black and white, and another slightly smaller chocolate brown one, both of whom were patrolling a 15-20 foot stretch of the wall. The black and white was walking across the screen on one of the windows, then it stopped for a second, then disappeared. By this time, I'd gotten used to this, and just took my eye from the VF to look for where it had gone. . . found it at the inside edge of the window frame.

I got a glimpse of its prey, just before I tripped the shutter, and it looked like a small Crane or May Fly -- about as long as the spider. Once the JS had either killed or paralyzed the fly, the it carried it's prey to a spot on the other side of the window frame.

Luckily for me, this spot was easily viewable from a bench in front of the building, so I could sit down and rest the lens barrel on the back of the bench and watch, taking a shot only whenever the JS showded some movement.

It took about 9 minutes, then the JS left the shriveled up exoskeleton behind and wandered off. . .

This is not nearly as disturbing to me as seeing a raptor or heron feed, as I usually have some empathy for the prey, and though fascinating, it's considerably more gory. The herons aren't too bad -- they swallow their food whole. . . I guess I just don't feel the same way about insects as prey. . . and the JS doesn't rip its prey apart. . .

I learned something though -- in the future, I'll get some initial shots, just to get something for the day, then I'll settle in and just mostly watch, keeping an eye out for potential prey in the area. I'd really like to document the whole series of events.

I'm really happy with how these turned out. . .

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Old May 23, 2010, 3:08 AM   #2
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You should be happy mate, these are great!

This is where the Tamron 90mm is letting me down somewhat, you have to get so close to things that 90% of the time they run/fly off before you can get a shot.
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Old May 23, 2010, 3:51 AM   #3
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Magnificent series Scott, I'm on a search for those spiders now, and am looking again at a longer macro lens

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Old May 23, 2010, 9:13 AM   #4
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Really spectacular pictures, Scott! I've always thought the 105 was all right but not great for insect macros, and have wanted a TC for a long time to use with it, to make it better. Now I can see the advantage of adding a TC with a longer macro, but I still think I'd do all right with the 105 + TC. My macros tend to be more flowers and static things than bugs though - I enjoy looking at others pictures of them, but I'm just not much of a bug person.
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Old May 23, 2010, 3:58 PM   #5
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Excellent series Scott!
You are right about it becoming addictive.

Life's a breeze on a Goldwing...
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Old May 23, 2010, 8:58 PM   #6
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Scott, these are just plain great. You once complemented me on my patience with macro subjects, but yours outstrips mine by a long shot! Well done!
If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.
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Old May 24, 2010, 4:43 AM   #7
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Great series Scott ! I love JSs and this is a lovely series.

The 3rd shot is funny - the legs look almost detached from the body, whilst I would have rotated the last shot and cropped it in a little - it's the pick of a great bunch for me.
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Old May 24, 2010, 5:42 AM   #8
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What a fine series - the fruits of your patient observation and your talents! Thanks for sharing both the amazing photos, and your detailed comments on the thought processes behind these very successful results.
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