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geoffs Jul 10, 2004 7:37 PM

So, I was looking around in my garden for some decent macro opportunities and got shocked when I chanced upon the scene of a spider gorging itself on an unfortunate bumblebee in a Rose of Sharon flower.

I realized after taking these shots that it would have been nice to have a ring flash unit so I could have gotten a bit more detail in the shadow areas of the bumblebee.

Makes you want to just rush out and order dinner doesn't it! :D

aladyforty Jul 11, 2004 9:20 AM

great shots, YUK, that spider reminds me of our bush tics here.

geoffs Jul 11, 2004 10:10 AM

Julie, thanks. I'd love to visit Australia one of these years but the poisonous snakes, crocs/alligators, poisonous other things don't exactly excite me. But I'd gladly tolerate them for the chance to visit :-)

Normcar Jul 11, 2004 9:12 PM

geoff, nice capture of an almost invisible event in nature.

Your subject is an extremely difficult capture primarily because of huge difference in contrast between the dark bee and the white flower and spider. This was an extremely difficult capture and you did a great job without using any special equipment.

One very inexpensive piece of equipment that you might consider picking up for photos like this is a small hand-held reflector that you can use to direct the natural sunlight into those shadow areas, like the underbelly of that bee. I've never really experimented much with this sort of thing, but I have done some reading on the matter and experimented a bit. It seems to work nicely and you can get those little round foldable white reflectors for next to nothing. In fact, I need to go out any buy one or two myself.

Great photo. Even with the "best" equipment this would be an extremely difficult photograph to capture perfectly, extremely difficult indeed. I'm not sure how much those expensive macro-flashes would help with this one.

geoffs Jul 11, 2004 9:22 PM

Thanks for the gracious comments and very good advice Norm.

It didn't even cross my mind that I could have used a handheld white reflector but now that you've given me the idea I am definitely going to get one or more. The lighting conditions were extremely difficult. With my lens positioned only about an inch or two above the bee and spider the whole scene was not as lit as I was hoping for and that reflector might have given me the lighting edge I wanted.

I was so busy (and excited) trying to capture this event on "film" that I didn't really take note of the details of the subjects. Only afterwards, when viewing the pictures did I really notice all there was to be viewed. For example, look at photo #2 and notice the eyes of the spider, the indentations on the top of the spider's body (breathing holes?).

geoffs Jul 11, 2004 11:15 PM

I guess I'm addicted to trying to identify everything around me. When I was younger and backpacked alot I'd fill my pack with Peterson field guides for birds, trees, flowers, etc.

Anyone reading this probably understands now where I'm heading. Yep, it just bugged me that I didn't know what type of spider was eating this bumblebee. It bugged me so much that I had to start doing internet searches and I finally found a picture of the same spider here. It's a crab spider with latin name of Misumena vatia.

Now I can rest in peace :-)

ps: Anyone who takes pictures of some insects and would like help identifying them would find this website very useful:

Normcar Jul 11, 2004 11:23 PM

Insects are wildlife as far as I'm concerned, and I took photos of that exact same spider, and have them on file somewhere. If I come across them I'll post, but I can guarantee they are not as close and intimate and technically good as yours.

eric s Jul 11, 2004 11:36 PM

Those are really, really good shots. Macro work is hard for a variety of reasons, and you nailed almost all of them. Ya, sure.. it would be better with a bit more light. But I don't care. You chose correctly (or it was luck?) to expose for the spider and let the black be black.

You might be able to recover it if you used raw by doing two exposures and blending them together. If not, use layers and adjust it for the black and the other background alone. Then erase everything but the bee and flatten.

Seriously, you might consider finding the right magazine to submit them to, that has got to be a very rare shot (and made even rarer by capturing it well.)


I know of the reflectors that Normcar speaks. I don't own them, but I know a guy who does good macro work who does (same one I borrowed the Canon 180 Macro from.) They are light, fold up small and are easy to carry. And they do the job, reflecting a good amount of light. The trouble that we had was that they can be a bit hard to juggle when alone. Luckly the time I/we used one we had a non-photographer around to help out by holding it. And it worked surprisingly well for an overcast day.

The one we used wasn't this big (I don't think) and they do sell a 48" of other types. But this was basically it, silver on one side and black on the other.;jsessionid=AyUJj1aia2!-1943256015?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=17724&is =REG


geoffs Jul 11, 2004 11:47 PM

Eric, thank you for looking at the picture and for the compliments. I really wouldn't have any idea how to go about trying to get these published. While doing the search for the id on the crab spider, I did see other photos with crab spiders on their "prey" (a honeybee in one, a fly in another, no bumblebees though) so perhaps it's not as publishable as you might think. I'm happy with them regardless.

The reflector you pointed me off to is big, very big. I was thinking of something about the size of a small handheld mirror like I used to carry around when I went backpacking and which served double-duty as an emergency signaling tool. Maybe I could fashion one on my own...

Oh yeah, almost forgot - I think it was more luck that I got the exposure correct for the spider rather than the bumblebee. I was using aperture priority at f/8.0 trying to go for maximum DOF. However, I was using spot metering and probably did meter and focus on the spider's head so perhaps it wasn't as much luck as I first thought it was.

Normcar Jul 11, 2004 11:54 PM

The reflectors I'm referring to are about 2 feet wide and can fold up to be put in your back pocket. I need to repeat that this shot is extremely difficult to get proper exposure on, you have so much white and then the "dark" of the main subject, and I'm quite impressed with the way you balanced it out in these shots. I think you got very close to excellent.

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