Not a great weekend

It’s unhappy news all around. This weekend was the time of the Big Cleanup, when I go through all the spiderling vials and cull out the sickly and the spiders who did not make it — I don’t if it’s me or just the expected mortality for any species that spews out progeny hundreds at a time, but I’ve only got a 30% survival rate. It was kind of expected, but it still hurts when you’re going through all the babies you nurtured for over a month, and well over half are dead. At least the survivors got bumped up to larger living quarters and get more flies to eat.

Then, going through my adult colony, two of them had died, for no discernable cause. I think they looked up, noticed we’re almost to December in Minnesota, and decided it was totally unnatural for them to live through this, and decided it was time to die. I saw this last year. Midwinter is like the expiration date for these northern spiders.

Then, just to add more misery to the tragedy, my camera is acting up — it refused to take any pictures, told me it had lost communication with my lovely Tokina macro lens, and ordered me to clean the lens contacts. So I did. It didn’t help. I’m going to tinker with some other lenses and see if the problem is in my favorite lens (oh no, I would cry) or the camera body (more crying — there is no good diagnosis here). Maybe this is a sign that it’s time to upgrade to a full frame camera, like the Canon 5D mk IV? No it is not, because I looked at the price and went into shock.

It was also bad because the spiders were hungry and happy with their new clean quarters and I had so many opportunities for good, dynamic action shots, but no go.

OK, I’m just going to go grade papers for a bit, as a kind of gravy for sorrow.


  1. whheydt says

    Regarding the camera problems, have you checked the batteries?

    And for prices…I guess you never looked up the Nikon 6mm 220 degree fisheye. Thirty or forty years ago (so add in inflation since) it went for $13,250. It was a special order item. If you ordered one, the factory would make it for you. Had to be used with a camera body that had mirror lock-up (that it, the SLR mirror had to be locked in the up position) because the lens stuck too far into the body for the mirror the clear it. Not that, with a 220 degree field of view it took much aiming to get your subject in frame. Indeed, a problem with it was that, if held in front of your face, your shoes would be in frame.

  2. says

    Fresh battery, first thing I check.

    And yeah, I check camera prices now and then and am consistently horrified. The good news, though, is that I have no interest in telephoto lenses, which would set me back the price of a couple of cars.

  3. Kevin Karplus says

    The Canon EOS RP is “only” $800, which is about as cheap as a full-frame camera body gets.

    Me, I’m looking at replacing my old Canon PowerShot G10, perhaps with an SX540 HS or SX740 HS.

  4. says

    “but I’ve only got a 30% survival rate”
    So does every fertilized embryo of a human being. Two thirds of women who become pregnant miscarry without even knowing they’re pregnant.

  5. stroppy says

    Hopefully there’s an easy fix for your camera.

    I sometimes use non-CPU lenses with mine. There are settings for that buried in the menu system. It is a pain, though, as the f stop has to be set there and manually on the lens– which I now realize would be a problem if you can’t set the f-stop on your lens. OTOH, if you’re really, really stuck and are comfortable with the kludge life, I suppose you could find a relatively cheap non-cpu lens on eBay

  6. kelvinwoelk says

    Had similar problems with a Tokina lens and my Canon 6D, after a year of use together. Per Canon’s troubleshooting tip (one of several), I rented a Canon lens and went on a short vacation. With the Tokina lens I had been getting that communication error every few shots. With the Canon lens and Canon body combo I had no problems at all. Canon lenses are generally expensive too but I am beginning to believe the advice to spend one’s money on quality lenses and worry less about the camera body may be pretty sound.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Not exactly work related, but when I feel down at the end of the day I either watch Trevor Noah, or re-watch my favv episodes of God Awful Movies.
    GAM297 Abolute Interference provides a look inside the mind of the My Pillow guy and the hilarious arguments he uses to prove the election was stolen.
    Gam 293 Bells of Innocence has Chuck Norris and his son Mike end up in a twilight zone town run by satanists.
    There are also an infinite number of cheap horror films if you are into “so bad it’s good” films.

  8. whheydt says

    Re: rdubard @ #9…
    Many years ago, post offices were regularly hanging up “no pest strips”. They were also accepting live bees for shipment…

  9. makarman says

    Look at a Pentax K-1 used, or a new K-1 Mark 2. Both full frame and you could pair it with the Pentax DFA 100mm f2.8 1:1 Macro lens. Fantastic build and quality. B&H Camera online will set you up. Or, go to and find good quality used gear. Used K-1 going for $800-$1000. Macro lens for $300-$400.

    I love your blog! I am continually amazed at the amount of energy you have to do all you do! Keep up the good fight!

  10. says

    Yes, the university DOES spray for bugs! I was horrified to discover that offices around campus would be specifically triggered by the appearance of harmless little grass spiders to ask the pesticide company to come in and hose down the outside foliage with poison.

  11. says

    I used to be a Pentax guy, back in the 80s, when I was a 35mm B&W guy. The problem is I’ve got an investment in lenses right now I don’t want to give up.

    Hey! I just got an email from a Canon distributor telling me they want to do a YouTube deal: I pick some items from a catalog they send, they send them to me, I talk about them in a video commercial, then I get to keep them. Huh. I don’t know if this is on the up-and-up, but at least they don’t ask me for money, yet.

  12. billseymour says

    If the “calalog they send” is the real one and contains one or more items that you can actually use, then I’d go for it.  Maybe if you talk a lot about photographing spiders, they won’t actually use the video. 8-)