Playing with a camera today #spider

I’m still taking this new lens on a shakedown, working out effective ways to photograph developing spiders. Today was all about trying to get a feel for where the focus is (spoiler: it’s way out there) and how to position camera and lights and specimen, so nothing exciting to report.

So which background do you like, light or dark?

I’m kind of leaning towards the darker backgrounds, since it brings out the webs they’re on, and a spider is intimately connected to its web. On the other hand, since the goal here is to map pigment development, the lighter background makes that snap a bit more and removes the distractions, at the expense of leaving the subject looking like it’s floating in space.

Both photos are of the same animal, Steatoda triangulosa, a young juvenile that’s about a month and a half old.


  1. stroppy says

    Looking good!

    Either could work depending on your intent. Sometimes you need to isolate the subject, and a flat white background can be a good way to go for science illustration.

    For a general audience, I think the one on the left has more visual interest. Personally I like it best; the one on the right has some compositional issues.

  2. anchor says

    The dark background (or whatever one is least contrived) is preferable. I don’t think its true at all that the light background is less distracting or allows the subject to ‘snap’ more. Rather the diffuse light surrounding the subject seems to lessen the definition and contrast of the markings noticeably compared to the dark background.

  3. kestrel says

    Personally, for me, the dark background brings out the markings much better. You could try different colors of cloth behind them, maybe different scraps of fabric if you happen to sew. Or know someone who does. You might even try a piece of something like black velvet behind them so that the spider and the web really stand out.

  4. Artor says

    I think you’ll find that you’ll want different backgrounds for different applications. Some things will show up better against one background or another. Keep some pieces of black & white cardboard with your kit, and you can swap them out during each shoot and see which shows your subject better in that instance.

  5. bcwebb says

    The white background would allow you to do color accuracy checks, assuming the light sources are the same as on the spider.

  6. leerudolph says

    Alternating dark and light stripes. (I am entirely serious.)

    Did the subject do a 180 degree turn, or is that an artifact of your blog post?

  7. blf says

    Alternating dark and light stripes.

    Well, before poopyhead was mad-perfessor-napped by a camera with spider fetish, he did work on zebrafish.

    And, as I recall, poopyhead also used to work with cephalopods, which perhaps explains why he’s been mad-perfessor-napped by a spider obsessed camera. (Spiders aren’t cephalopods, albeit cameras may not know that, and anyways, eight-legged critters need to stick together, be it with silk or suckers.) Come to think of it, some kook insisted poopyhead “owed” them a camera, which perhaps somehow “explains” that part of the mystery? Not sure how “the development and evolution of balloon animals” can be shoehorned into this hypothesis — probably involves a desecrated nibble of sniny tomato bread…