Homeless in Vancouver: Softer side of spiders (that'd be the underside)

Today I saw a side of the common European garden spider I had never seen before—the underside.

I think we can all agree that it’s even weirder looking than the top side.

Getting up close and personal—too up close?

Stanley Q. Woodvine

Today’s spider photos yielded some good details—of the way the web is constructed, with the orbital and radial threads winding around each other, and the little hooks that terminate the spider’s legs and visibly “hook” onto the web.

Most of the credit for this should go to the spider’s ability to pose for minutes without so much as twitching. The rest is probably down to luck.

For this kind of super-close photography my camera cannot hold the entire depth of the spider in focus at one time. Because we’re talking auto focus, it takes trial and error and many photos to coax the camera to focus on the part I care about.

Three-quarters of the photographs weren’t any good and one of the best was taken second to last, so the patience of the spider really made the difference.

Take a photo! It lasts longer and won't crawl on your arm

Stanley Q. Woodvine

I know about arachnophobia (the fear of spiders) but I apparently suffer from a form of arachnophilia (the love of spiders) in that I love to photograph them.

But if I never tire of taking their pictures, I can see how spiders might be getting a little sick of the attention.

You should understand that to get anything like a detailed photo of an insect using my Pentax WG-3 “adventure camera”, I’m using modes that require the camera to be within a centimetre of the subject.

Imagine, if out of a clear blue sky, a transit bus dropped sideways on you, stopping less than an inch short of your head and then just hovered there, wobbling uncertainly.

I try not to actually hit the insect I’m photographing but my hands can shake. (I left this particular spider’s web oscillating a bit.)

One mode fires a ring of bright white LED lights around the lens to help illuminate the subject, making it a bit Close Encounters of the Third Kind for the spiders.

For their part, spiders are generally very good subjects. They just sit very still.

I don’t know but they may actually be gritting their teeth through the whole mysterious ordeal. I certainly want to thank them for their cooperation and patience.

My next spider-related goal has to be to get a good photo of one of them gritting those teeth.

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