HOME 2 – HOUSE SPIDER

 

 


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Its that time of year again, and big House Spiders have started appearing here and there chez nous; this one was on the wall of our hallway at night.  There no sense of scale here but – particularly with that wonderfully outstretched, hairy leg – this one can’t be far short of 2 inches (5 cm) across.

A great Natural World enthusiast, I’ve had a lot of wonderful encounters with wildlife over the years, particularly – but far from exclusively – during 12 years’ residence in Kenya, where I worked as a safari leader for several years.  I suppose my most memorable encounter was being with Mountain Gorillas on the Virunga volcanoes in Rwanda: we were on foot, they looked at us, we looked at them, and that was an experience both powerful and moving.

But, on a far more local scale, memorable encounters have happened here at home too.  I’ll never forget offering my forefinger to a Red Admiral butterfly, motionless on our back lawn on a chilly autumn morning, and being enthralled as the insect climbed up onto my finger and remained there – perhaps glad of my slight warmth.  And then again, with these big House Spiders, out of devilment I sometimes get down on the floor beside them and give them the gentlest of prods, which instantly sends them off into totally chaotic retreat >>> a valued and enduring memory is actually hearing one’s hurtling footsteps as it rushed across an A4 sheet of paper lying on the floor – magic, simply magic!

There is another recent spider picture here: 1 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: TG-5 at 30mm (equiv), used in Microscope mode, which allows focusing down to 1cm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait profile; south Bristol; 21 Sept 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 414 – SPIDER ON A BRIDGE

 

 


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A life spent hanging from the girders of Eastern Moor Bridge, a narrow structure crossing Cripps River on Liberty Moor.

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Click onto each image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Techniques: upper image – Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile;  lower image – X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens; 200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Astia Soft profile; Eastern Moor Bridge on Liberty Moor, on the Somerset Levels east of East Huntspill; 2 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 398 – EARLY MORNING 7 (MONO)

 

 


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Gate to a field; morning dew.

Other images in this Early Morning series are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Graphite profile; Swanshard Lane, on the Somerset Levels southwest of Wells; 23 Aug 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 340 – MORNING DEW 3

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

Another look at the field gate: webs and dew drops, early on a damp, cold morning.

Earlier morning dew images are here: 1 2 .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Standard V2 picture control; beside Bourtonbridge Drove, on Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 26 Apr 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 332 – MORNING DEW (MONO)

 

 


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This image is best seen enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Gate to a field, with spider’s web and early morning dew.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; jpeg produced by in-camera Raw processing in the Z 6, using the camera’s Dramatic picture control; minimal further processing in Lightroom; beside Bourtonbridge Drove, on Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 26 Apr 2019.
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ARCHIVE 214 – EIGHT LEGS GOOD (MONO)

 

 

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A small spider scampers up a strand of its web (which can just be seen), moving towards upper left – early morning in our Bristol garden; 27 July 2013.

Early yesterday morning I was out in the garden with my macro lens and an “anything goes”, “let’s do it!” attitude.  I like this lens a lot.  It has fast and accurate autofocus, a built in vibration reducer that certainly works, and a maximum aperture of f2.8, which makes for great differential focusing.  Its obviously my first choice for macro (which Nikon calls “Micro” for a reason I forget), but its also extremely useful for closer range, people shots.

And there was this tiny spider running around its rather sparse web, which it had built in the top of a hedge – just below the towering Ash sapling that I pictured recently.  And I thought – “Have a go!”.  All started badly, as I had the lens set up for all but very close distances – DOH!!! – and then I went bog-eyed trying to keep up with the little mite as it busily went about (presumably) finding and killing things.

It was small –  I guess the body plus head was less than one fifth of an inch – and I rapidly accumulated impressive numbers of failures.  I didn’t certainly know that they were failures at the time because I wasn’t about to waste time looking at them on the camera’s screen – such judgements were for the computer screen later on – but I had a feeling that the contest’s outcome was going to be Spider won, Lewis lost …

And I was right.  On looking at the enlarged images, most were at best Impressionistic – which is what I try to palm images off as when they’re soft – but this miracle has the eyes sharp, and so here he / she / it is!

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

D700 with 105mm Nikkor; 640 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the High Structure Smooth preset.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 153 – NEW BRAMBLE LEAVES

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New leaves, and the dewy strands of spiders’ webs, on a bramble along Swanshard Lane, near Polsham; 14 May 2014.

Brambles are very awkward plants.  For a start they are covered in sharp thorns, as seen here.  And then, as seen in our garden, they rapidly grow larger and spread and, if not kept under control, take over everything.

But their great redeeming feature is that, in the autumn, they produce simply loads of succulent blackberries – and so to wonderful flavours either on their own or in jam, or along with custard, cream or ice cream in tarts and crumbles.  All of which makes their prickliness and propensity for colonisation eminently bearable.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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ARCHIVE 77 – IF YOU’RE AN ARACHNOPHOBE, LOOK AWAY NOW!

USE YOUR PC’s F11 KEY TO VIEW THIS PAGE FULLSCREEN

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Female spider using two of her eight legs to guard her swarming brood of tiny young, in Nairobi, Kenya; around 1980.

This spider secured herself high up inside my living room window and I left her unmolested, to see what outcome this might bring.

After the young appeared, I attached some card up against the outside of the window, to provide a more or less uniform backdrop for this flash photo.

OM-2 with through the lens flash metering; Agfa CT18 colour slide, rated at 64 ISO.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 147 – MORNING DEW (MONO + COLOUR)

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Field gate on Tealham Moor, south of Wedmore; 10 Apr 2014.

Early morning along Jack’s Drove, and a world soaked in dew.  The silver cobwebs, with the rising light behind them, are everywhere.  Here three struts in a gate provide the picture’s solid structures, and then the web is strung across the frame, and there are large drops of dew hanging from the gate at upper left.

This is a black and white image with much of its original colour restored, semi-faithfully.  One of the reasons that such colour restorations appeal to me is that, since black and white is already far from reality, I don’t feel that I must necessarily restore the original colours accurately – put another way, since I’m already way out in the realms of unreality, a little more unrealness (is that a word???) won’t matter!

The bar at the top and the diagonal one are casting slim shadows, which is why the silvery web strands fade as they come near them.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Contrast and Structure preset, and selectively restoring colour.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 141 – DEATHTRAP, OR GALAXY? (MONO + COLOUR)

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Early morning on Tealham Moor, in a ditch beside the bridge over the North Drain; 10 Apr 2014.

A glorious morning on the Tadham and Tealham Moors; cool at first, certainly, but later with bright sunshine and rolling, mesmerising banks of mist.  The road northwards across Tealham Moor is closed further up, and so even less traffic than usual – and swans on the North Drain, Skylarks chorusing wildly overhead, and sentinel Buzzards, silent and austere on fence posts.

I’ve taken this image into black and white using SEP2, and significantly darkened the web’s surroundings, to emphasise its structure.  Then colour has been restored to the Stinging Nettles and other vegetation under and to the lower right of the web, and a little brightness restored there too, so that the brightly glowing web seems to be casting a little light on the plants around it.  The surrounding plants are fairly haphazard in structure, and to me that single, dimly seen nettle leaf, at about 5pm to the web’s “clockface”, anchors things a little.

Looking at it and ignoring its context, it reminds me of some vast structure way out there in space.  But the reality of course is that its a deathtrap.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset.
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