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Posts Tagged ‘spider’

I am catching up on some photos and thought I’d post this image that I captured in mid-July of a cool-looking fishing spider that Walter Sanford spotted while we were hunting for dragonflies at a creek in Fairfax County. I am not sure of the specific species of the spider, but I am pretty confident that it is of the genus Dolomedes. Most of the times in the past when I have spotted similar spiders, they have actually been in the water, but this one seemed to be hunting from a crevice in the rocks at the edge of the water.

I love the texture of the rocks and especially the lichen that add a lot of visual interest to this image. If you would like to see Walter’s take on our encounter with this spider, check out his post ‘Fishing spider Friday.’ Walter noted that he sees “a mean monkey face on the front half of the spider and a baboon face on the back half.” Be sure to click on the image to see the spider more closely, if you dare and let me know what you think.

 

fishing spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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If you were to pit a mantis against a spider, which one would have the advantage? I thought it would be the mantis, but that was clearly not the case this past week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This spider had a large web stretched over a path on which I was walking, and I guess the mantis was unlucky enough to get stuck in its sticky strands as it was moving through the air.

mantis versus spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was looking at a small patch of purple aster flowers yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I noticed that the center of one of them was a different color than all of the rest. I moved closer and was thrilled to see this very cool-looking White-banded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes) nestled in among the petals of the flower. This kind of spider does not build a web, but patiently perches, waiting to pursue passing prey.

crab spider

crab spider

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As I was exploring Prince William Forest Park yesterday morning, I spotted this little spider. I was shooting almost directly into the sun when I captured this image and the light caused the spider’s legs to look almost transparent and the web to glow with all kinds of colors.

It looks almost like the spider was in outer space (and a Facebook viewer commented that she was totally ok with the spider being as far away as possible from her)..

spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge I watched with fascination as this spider (maybe a Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus) spider) worked on her web. She seemed to have started with the spokes coming out of the middle and was adding the ribs when I photographed her.

If you look closely in the first image, you can actually see the web material coming out of one of her spinnerets, the organs in which a spider produces the different kinds of silk that make up a web. I tried to figure our her process as I observed her. It looks like she would produce a length of silk, maneuver it into place on one of the spokes with one or more of her legs, affix it in place, and then start the process over again. For the final image, I moved back a little to give you a somewhat better view of more of the web and a sense of its shape.

I have photographed spiderwebs many times before, but this was the first time that I watched one being built. My admiration for the skills and artistry of spiders continues to grow—they are simply amazing.

spider making web

spider making web

spider making web

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

 

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Dragonflies seem to love to perch on this piece of rusted rebar that sticks out of the water at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I really like the juxtaposition of the man-made and natural elements in this shot of a male Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) that I spotted on Monday.

You can’t see it really well in the first shot, but there is a spider on the rebar in addition to the dragonfly.  I got a better shot of the spider later in the day. I don’t know for sure that it could capture the dragonfly, but it’s a potentially dangerous situation for the dragonfly (and I have photographed several dragonflies that had fallen prey to spiders in the past).

Eastern Amberwing


spider

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I know that some folks find spiders to be creepy, but I think they are beautiful, particularly when presented creatively in an image. I spotted this little spider earlier this week in a wooded area at Huntley Meadows Park.

The area in which the spider was located was pretty dark, so I decided to use  the pop-up flash on my camera. The light was a bit too powerful at such close range, so I  improvised a diffuser by slipping a plastic sleeve over the flash—when it is raining out, my Washington Post is delivered in plastic sleeves. All three of these shots were taken using the flash, but they look so different because of the direction of the ambient light. In the one that has a light background,for example, I was shooting almost directly into the light, so the flash was need to avoid getting nothing but a silhouette.

 

dramatic spider

 

dramatic spiderdramatic spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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This spooky spider image that I took late Friday afternoon while hiking along part the Potomac Heritage Trail is probably more suitable for later in the month, but I just couldn’t wait until Halloween to share it.

Normally when I use fill flash I try to be subtle, attempting to add a little pop without making it obvious that I used flash. In this case, you can’t help but notice my use of the popup flash. Normally I would take a shot of a spider like this with my macro lens, but I was travelling light with just my superzoom Canon SX50. The 50x zoom of this camera has helped to bring distant subjects closer, but I had never tried to use the camera’s macro mode. I quickly learned that you have to be really close to your subject, literally only a few inches away. I was pretty happy when I was able to get the second shot below, but wanted to add to the drama of the shot.

I dropped the exposure compensation in the camera down to a minus three stops and got my favorite shot. The darkened sky and the way that the flash illuminates the spider give the image a kind of creepy look that feels appropriate for a spider that was just about at eye level.

spooky spider

spooky spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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After a summer of not seeing many spiders, I was thrilled recently to spot this orbweaver spider as it dealt with an unidentified prey that it had captured.

Most of the large spiders that I observe are Black and Yellow Garden spiders (Argiope aurantia), but this one looks different from the ones that I have previously seen, especially in the first image. It may be that I am used to seeing the spider only in the center of her web, as in the second image, or perhaps this is a different spider species.

This was an unusual case for me, because I spotted the spider as I was walking through a field of waist-high vegetation and I was able to get pretty close to the spider and get these shot with my macro lens. Generally, I am forced to photograph spiders like this from a distance (which most people probably think is a good idea anyways).

There are some subjects, like cute birds, that I photograph that I know will have a broad appeal, but past experience has shown me that spiders tend to divide people into two camps—some people are fascinate and think spiders are totally cool, while others are thoroughly creeped out and find spiders to be repulsive.

What do you think about spiders?

orbweaver spider

orbweaver spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The calendar says that it is not quite spring, but after the cold weather we have had recently, it sure feels like spring when the temperature reaches 60 degrees F (15.5 degrees C) on consecutive days. As I walked about in my marshland park this past Monday I noticed some small flying insects, giving me hope that dragonflies and damselflies will be on the scene soon.

As I was climbing down the stairs of the observation deck, I noticed something hanging in the air. When I bent toward it, it seemed to move farther away from me and eventually came to rest on the surface of the boardwalk. I was a little shocked to see that it was a tiny spider.

There was no way that I was going to be able to get a shot of the spider with the 150-600mm zoom lens that was on my camera, but fortunately I had my 100mm macro lens in my bag. With one eye on the spider, I rapidly changed lens. As I tried to figure out a way to get a shot, the spider started moving, which, of course, increases the challenge of getting a macro shot.

I managed to get a few shots of this early-appearing spider, which I have not yet been able to identify, before it crawled into a crack in the boards and disappeared from view. I’m pretty confident that I will get some better images of spiders as the weather continues to warm up, but this one is special, because it is the first one of the season for me, so I am more than happy with my record shots of it.

spring spiderspring spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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After I have set my camera bag down to take some wildlife shots, I’ve learned from experience that I need to check it carefully for “hitchhikers,” like this little spider that climbed aboard last week while I was focusing on dragonflies.

spider1_bag_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I encountered this spider hanging on a branch just above eye-level, I knew I was going to have a problem getting a stable shooting position, so I decided to use my popup flash. It added some additional light and a little drama, though it is pretty obvious that I used it. Like the spider image that I posted earlier today, the image has a really narrow depth of field, a consequence of having to shoot hand held, and only a few of the spider’s legs are in focus.

spider2_small_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This summer I haven’t been seeing any of the large orb-weaver spiders at my local marsh that I observed in previous years, but the small spiders can be equally beautiful.

I spotted this little spider when I was hiking through the woods. There wasn’t really enough room to set up my tripod, so I ended up taking the shot handheld with the available light, which meant my depth of field was pretty limited. Although my normal instinct is to move in really close, I decided to take some shots from a slight distance and I like one of the resulting images so much that I am presenting it with almost no cropping (which is unusual for my insect shots). I especially like the interplay of light and shadows on the different elements in the scene, which together produce a sense of drama.

spider1_small_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of my fellow photographers excitedly pointed out a small spiderweb to me as I was preparing to leave my local marsh and I moved closer to investigate. At the center of the web was a small colorful spider of a type which I had seen before, but had never identified. I realized that I must have a peculiar reputation when others start to get excited about spiders on my behalf.

I felt obliged to take some photos, given that my friend had gone to the trouble of spotting the spider for me, but I didn’t have any great expectations that they would turn out well. The spider was small and the angle of the web made it a little tough to keep everything on a single plane (and I was handholding the shot at close range).

I really admire the artistry of spiders and their webs, however, and have not seen many this spring, so I took quite a few images and was pleasantly surprised with the result. The spider probably is an Orchard Orbweaver spider (Leucauge venusta) or possibly the similar Leucauge argyra. As you may note, this is a kind of long-jawed spider with legs of differing lengths. It is an ongoing mystery to me how the spider is able to weave an intricate, symmetrical web with such asymmetrical appendages.

Out of all of the subjects that I photograph, spiders tend to be the most polarizing—readers tend to find spider images to be either creepy or beautiful. I hope that the majority of readers will view this colorful little spider as beautiful.

 

spider_color_blog

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As a follow-up to last week’s preview, here is the complete story of my recent encounter with a Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) and a female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis). The photos are a bit graphic, particularly for those of us who like dragonflies, but they illustrate the reality of nature that even super predators like dragonflies can easily become prey.

dragon1A_spider_blogAs I was walking at my local marshland park, I spotted a bright green dragonfly perched on the boardwalk and suspected immediately that it was a female Eastern Pondhawk. I moved in slowly to get a shot and was a bit surprised when the dragonfly did not take off when I got close. This is the initial view I had of the dragonfly.

dragon3_spider_blogI looked closely at the dragonfly and noticed that it was lying on its side and appeared to be dead. Wondering what might have caused its demise, I picked up the dragonfly’s body to do some amateur forensic analysis. (I obviously watched to many televisions shows about crime scene investigations.) As I lifted the body toward my eyes, I was shocked to find that a fuzzy black spider was still attached to it. Apparently the spider had been hiding in the gap between the boards as it feasted on the dragonfly.

Somewhat in shock, I dropped the dragonfly back onto the boardwalk and the fall caused the spider to be separated from its prey. Undeterred, it quickly set off to recapture the dragonfly.

dragon4_spider_blogThe spider grabbed the dragonfly in a headlock and began to drag it back toward the gap between the synthetic boards of the boardwalk. It seemed totally oblivious to my presence.dragon6_spider_blog

When it reached the gap, the spider paused for a few seconds, as though considering possibility of dragging the body through the gap.

dragon7_spider_blog

The spider decided to give it a try and did its best to pull the body in, starting with the head.

dragon9_spider_blog

Despite the spider’s best efforts, however, the dragonfly’s body was simply too big.

dragon12_spider_blog

As I left the scene, the spider had again settled down out of sight below the surface of the boardwalk, happily enjoying its meal and presumably hoping that it would not be disturbed again.

dragon10_spider_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How does a jumping spider, a spider that does not build a web, manage to capture a dragonfly? I don’t know how this Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) snagged an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis), but I came upon the two of them after the capture had been completed and managed to snap a series of photographs of the action.

I am still working on the images and plan to do a longer posting, but wanted to give you a sneak preview.

dragon8_spider_blogdragon11_spider_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When you think of a spider, what kind of body do you imagine? I realize that most people don’t even want to think about spiders—they find them to be creepy and frightening.  For some of us, though, spiders are beautiful creatures with some amazing features.

Still, I don’t usually think of a spider as having a long, thin body, and most don’t. Last week I encountered one that had such a body, which I think is a kind of long-jawed spider from the  Tetragnathidae family. In addition to the elongated bodies, these spiders have legs of varying lengths, with the front pair appearing to be really long.

Spiders apparently come in all sizes and shapes. Who knows what new ones I’ll see in the coming months?

longjaw1_bloglongjaw2_blog

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Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to get good nature photos. I noticed this colorful little jumping spider on my car yesterday when I was loading my camera gear, getting ready to go out shooting. spider4_car_blog

It was a fun challenge trying to get shots of the spider as it moved to various parts of the trim surrounding the windshield, many of which were reflective. I wasn’t sure how long the spider would hang around, so I didn’t set up my tripod and I think it would have been pretty awkward to do so.

spider1_car_blog

I am hoping that nobody snapped pictures of me as I sprawled my body across the hood of the car, trying to find a way to brace my body and get a decent shooting position. My Tamron 180mm macro lens lets me get in close, but it does not have image stabilization.

spider3_car_blogOne of the first things that I noticed when I reviewed my images was that my car is dirty. In this area, they use a lot of salt on the roads when it snows and I suspect that those little white spots are salt residue. I thought about removing them in post-processing, but decided that I like the more urban, gritty feel that they give the images (and besides, it would have been a lot of work to get rid of all of them).

spider2_car_blog

I am always thrilled when I find a jumping spider. There is something special about all of those eyes that simply fascinates me and I am particularly happy when I manage to get reflections in the eyes.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I was a little surprised yesterday when a small spider crossed my path when I was walking on the boardwalk at my local marsh. Sure, temperatures had warmed up and it was over 50 degrees outside (10 degrees C), but I didn’t think there were any spiders around at this time of the year. This is definitely my first spider of 2014.

Expecting to photograph birds, not bugs (yes, I know a spider technically is an arachnid, not a bug), I had equipped my camera with a telephoto lens, not a macro lens, and wasn’t even carrying my macro lens. The spider was moving too, so I used what I had and shot these photos at 300mm and cropped them.

You can probably tell that the boardwalk at the marsh is made of a synthetic material and not real wood, which means that I am not at risk of getting splinters when I kneel on it as I often do.  This spider, whose species I cannot identify, was pretty small. The visible head of a screw used to hold in place the planks of boardwalk help to give you an idea of the relative size of the spider.  Eagle-eyed readers may notice that the third photo is the same image as the first one, but cropped less severely.

In a few short months, I hope to see (and photograph) a whole lot more spiders in even greater detail, but the first one of the year is always special.

spider2a_blogspider1_bblogspider2_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Some spiders can be creepy, but others are quite beautiful, like this one that I photographed earlier this month at my local marshland park. I am catching up a bit on posting photos from this month that I really liked and thought it might be good to post a spider image on Halloween night. I have not yet been able to identify this spider, but noted that it did not have a web and seemed to be lying in wait for prey on the long leaf of this plant. I’d welcome assistance in identifying the species of spider,

spider_halloween_blog

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On Halloween night, it somehow feels appropriate to post this photograph of a spider web that I took earlier this month. Some people find spider webs (and spiders) to be creepy, but I find them to be fascinating.  I look at spider webs as a form of beautiful natural art, filled with wonderful geometric shapes and designs and always marvel at the ability of spiders to weave them.

web_halloween_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As the outside temperatures continue to drop, I am seeing fewer and fewer spiders. This is one of my favorite recent shots of what I think is a barn spider. I really like the way that the spots in the background mirror the spots on the spider’s abdomen.

I think that this may be a Neoscona crucifera spider, though it may be an Araneus cavaticus spider. Strangely enough, both of them are sometimes known as barn spiders.

orange_spider2_blog

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Here’s another shot of one of the numerous spiders that I observed yesterday at my local marsh, which I have not yet been able to identify.

This one was pretty big and seemed to be putting out a lot of silk, one strand at a time. If you look closely, you can spot numerous eyes and a cool orange racing stripe down the middle of its face. I took this shot from a low angle so that I could capture the spider with the sky as the partial backdrop.spider_sky_blog

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There seemed to be spiders everywhere at the marsh today. When I arrived in the morning, there were webs all over the place, though not the kind that orbweavers make—plants were simply covered with web-like material. Later in the day I saw all kinds of spiders scurrying along the boardwalk and even flying through the air in a process known as ballooning.

I saw a lot of one of my favorite type of spiders, the jumping spider. I am still downloading my images from today, but here is an advance preview, an image of a jumping spider that had crawled onto part of the railing of the boardwalk. I love the details of the spider, especially the eyes, and even the peeling paint of the railing.

spider_jump1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This long-jawed spider is not really camouflaged, of course, but it positioned itself in such an artistic way that its elongated body and legs seem to be an extension of the plant, especially from a distance. The plant was growing at the edge of a small pond at my local marsh and the brown background color is the water of the pond.

spider_purple_blog

Click on the image to get a higher resolution view of it.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Walking along the boardwalk at my local marsh, I encountered this fairly large, hairy red spider in a web almost at eye level.

It was a little disconcerting to look a spider in the eye (eyes) at such close range, but it did allow me to get a pretty detailed shot at close range against an uncluttered background. I’ve been searching around on the internet, attempting to identify the spider but so far have not had any success. Can anyone identify this cool-looking spider?

orange_spider1_blog

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Earlier this week I came across this little Jumping spider, patiently waiting for a prey to come by.  I never fail to be amazed by those eyes that seemed to be staring right at me.

Transfixed, I can’t take my eyes off of you, tiny spider, and your eyes seem to follow me. I don’t want to seem paranoid, but when I am with you, I always feel like somebody is watching me.

Somehow I thought I heard the spider humming, “I only have eyes for you,” but it was just my imagination, running away with me.

jumping_marsh2_blog

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Finally I am starting to see some of the Yellow Garden Orbweaver spiders (Argiope aurantia) that fascinated me so much last summer. These spiders are big and colorful and have awesome webs with a distinctive zigzag section. I will be keeping an eye on the spiders to see if I can observe them catching prey and wrapping it up in silk.

Stay tuned for more spiders., most likely coming pretty soon to the blog—this spider is just the first fall installment.

argiope_web1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Is it just my imagination or do the eyes of this spider look like a smiley face to you too?

Eager to use my new macro lens, I went searching yesterday in my neighbors’ garden for subjects and came upon a tiny orange spider, which I have not yet been able to identify.

The spider was initially suspended in midair, but climbed up an invisible silken thread as I approached and took refuge in the shadow of white flower.

I boldly (or foolishly) tried photographing the spider handheld, but the images were blurry. Eventually I put the camera on my tripod and did my best to focus manually. For some shots, I used my pop-up flash to add a bit more light. Of course, it turned the background black, but I think that works for this shot.

In the original shot, the spider was upside down, but I decided it looked better when I rotated the image 180 degrees. I am fascinated with the multiple eyes of spiders.  There seem to a lot of different eye patterns in the different species of spider—a macro lens tends to make me look more closely at these kinds of details.

orange_spider_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Sometimes an insect or a spider is so small that it seems almost impossible to get a clear shot of it, which was the case the this morning with this tiny crab spider.It was located in a place where a tripod was not feasible and the spider kept changing its position.

I kept shooting and got this image that is kind of artsy. The spider ended up as merely one element of the composition. I especially like the limited color palette and the different shades of green and brown that are present in the image.

crab_blog

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I have encountered some cool-looking spiders in the past, but I think that this Bold Jumping spider (Phidippus audax) just leaped to number one on my personal list.

I was checking out my neighbor’s garden (fellow blogger and photographer Cindy Dyer) this past weekend, when I saw a little movement among the flowers. The first thing that i noticed was the fuzzy body and I suspected that I had a jumping spider in front of me. It crawled all around a couple of different plants and most of the time it had its back to be. I tried to be patient as I waited for it to turn toward me, so that I could get a shot of its amazing eyes.

It is equally remarkable that the Bold (also known as Daring) Jumping spider has iridescent blue-green mouth parts that are technically known as chelicerae. At first, I thought the spider was eating something brightly colored that really made it stand out—you can’t really camouflage yourself when you have a color that distinctive.

This is the third species of jumping spider that I have now seen in this one little garden. I am not sure what attracts the spiders to it, but the garden has an equal attraction for me.

Jumping_spider_A_blogjumping_spiderB_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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