03 September 2007

More spiders

The morning visit with the new arachnid neighbor turned up the exciting development that there are, in fact, two new neighbors: the yellow one with the enormous web across the sidewalk (photo, right), and a white one with a smaller, more subdued web up near the roofline (photo, below). By "smaller" I mean it's only about 1 foot across. (The web, not the spider, heh!)

I've been shooting my new neighbors since dawn-ish and have discovered that my cheap, compact tripod is not quite up to the task of capturing spiders that live more than 4 feet off the ground. However, that's the beauty of digital photography: You can shoot 200 images, delete 190 of them and still feel good about your "skill."

A professional photographer friend of mine says he hates digital photography for that reason. Once upon a time, an amateur had almost no chance of getting a good shot because they were always afraid of wasting film. Now... I can shoot more than 1,000 6-megapixel images onto my 4-GB memory card. So what if I shoot 25 pictures of the same spider? Surely, one will be in focus! And I might actually get a well-framed shot by accident!

(at right, the yellow spider's web across the front walk) Anyway, I was out there this morning shooting close-up portraits of the yellow spider (named Sunny after my car, for her charming disposition and her big smiles for the camera), with the camera on the tripod about 3 inches from the web. I was merrily snapping along when a wasp hit the web and scared the daylights out of me. Sunny was not happy at the intrusion either, as I think the web is made to capture smaller prey, like mosquitos (which is why I like having it there!) It was one of those "little seen in nature" events and it didn't take long enough to get the camera re-focused -- the wasp got away cleanly (perhaps with a bit of a fright), and the web was no worse for wear.

(Above, the backside of the yellow spider) My human neighbor came out in the yard later, and mentioned having seen us in the front yard the night before. I explained about my new pets (heh) and he came over to take a look. He is not a big fan of spiders, having walked into too many such webs strug across his own front walk. (Been there, done that. You wonder for days afterward whether you still have a spider living in your hair...) But he admitted he'd never noticed how beautiful the webs are, and said he appreciated my letting him meet the new neighbors -- from a distance. And he was glad they are at *my* house rather than his. Heh!

I shot a gazillion photos, and I put the best of them on Shutterfly. (below, yellow spider's web from the back, showing the "warning stripes" at the edges of the web -- the curved "dotted line" on the right side. According to one of the Web sites I read last night, the warning stripes may be designed to keep birds from smacking the web and tearing it to smithereens.)

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