The wonderful arthopods of Nicky Bay

August 4, 2013 • 5:16 am

Professor Ceiling Cat has a lot of writing to do today, so, barring any unexpected contributions from Greg or Matthew, it will be a Show-and-Tell Day.

I’ve featured the photos of Singapore photographer Nicky Bay once before (a ladybug mimicking a spider), but my attention was called to his latest posts, which have some fantastic spiders and other arthropods.  I’ll put up a few with permission, but go over to his website (or his Flickr page; hit “Photostream to see 83 pages of macro photography!) to see a veritable carnival of fantastic animals from remote parts of the globe. (Note: please don’t reproduce these photographs elsewhere; Bay, like a good pro, doesn’t want his pictures disseminated all over the internet without permission).

First, a “skull-faced caterpillar”:

Picture 1

The “mirror” spider. Bay says this, and you should go here to see its transformation:

I have long observed the odd behavior of the Mirror Spider (Thwaitesia sp.) where the “silver-plates” on the abdomen seems to shrink when the spider is agitated (or perhaps threatened), revealing the actual abdomen. At rest, the silver plates expand and the spaces between the plates close up to become an almost uniform reflective surface. That is why I called it the Mirror Spider initially. Note that what I am posting are just observations and nothing is scientifically backed up. :

Picture 3

The official website arachnid™: a jumping spider (salticid):

Picture 1

And the face shot—look at those eyes! No wonder they’re so visual, and so accurate in catching prey:

Picture 1

Bay also found some spiders that fluoresce under UV light.

It is rather common knowledge that scorpions emit a bright blue glow under ultraviolet light. Recently, we’ve found that some millipedes and harvestmen exhibit the same behavior as well. This made us shine our UV torches at almost every subject we saw. What resulted on this night, was a really pleasant discovery. 🙂

Here’s a Bird Dung Spider (Pasilobus sp.) in its web. It presumably is cryptic, resembling bird droppings:

Picture 1

And under UV (spiders can see in the UV spectrum):

Lo and behold, under ultraviolet light, the Bird Dung Spider (Pasilobus sp.) illuminates to resemble some precious blue stone!! Even the eyes were a creepy blue! Thanks to Melvyn for taking the effort to shine the UV light at almost every subject we saw that night. 😛

Picture 3

Net-Casting Spider (Deinopidae). You may know of this one: it doesn’t inhabit its web but weaves it between its forelegs and catches prey like a tennis racket captures a ball.

Picture 1

And here’s Bay at work:


And his current equipment (but remember, you don’t become a good photographer just by using good equipment; you need technique and an “eye”!):

2012-current: Setup 2
Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro
36mm Kenko Extension Tube
Raynox DCR250
Nikon SB400 or SB-R200 x 2

h/t: Grania

21 thoughts on “The wonderful arthopods of Nicky Bay

  1. Awesome. As someone with a mild case of arachnophobia these pictures are actually beautiful, although the hairy ones are a bit challenging.

  2. “remember, you don’t become a good photographer just by using good equipment; you need technique and an “eye”!”

    I fail on every count then! Oh well. 🙂

        1. Well doesn’t everyone want better equipment and then they struggle with if their choices in framing stuff, etc. was the right one? I just figure everyone second guesses themselves a bit AND wants fancy stuff….maybe it’s just me as a guilt ridden, obsessive, gear loving person 🙂

          1. Oh crap. I’m making silly pedantic jokes while you’re making insightful points about fundamental aspects of human nature. I think I’m out gunned here. I have to concede, you win. You are of course right. What we consider good or bad is all judged from our own subjective vantage point. What may appear as genius to the outsider may, to the insider, be a case of “If only I’d taken it a few seconds earlier. It would have been fantastic…”

  3. These are all so amazing! I love the plain looking jumping bristletail and the common pill bugs but there is even a pill cockroach that is golden! I also liked the cute monitor lizard in the Flickr photostream. 🙂

  4. Amazing images. Just amazing.

    “… remember, you don’t become a good photographer just by using good equipment; you need technique and an “eye”!”

    This reminds me of a quote by the lovely Welsh artist Keith Bowen (b. 1950) which I really like: “There are three things an artist needs: his eye, his hand and his heart. And two won’t do.”

  5. The “scorpions fluoresce” trick is a good one to know when you’re on night shift and the sanitary facilities consist of a hand waved in the direction of the second-nearest sand dune.
    “Bank note detectors” – which are meant to reveal hidden watermarks and cryptic fluorescent colours on genuine notes, and their absence or mis-printing on counterfeits – do the job, are compact and can run off batteries making them good for luggage abroad.

  6. Wow! Bay’s doing it without a tripod! That takes really steady hands, especially as macro lenses magnify any camera movement.
    I wonder if his D800 has a built in stabilizer.

    1. The lens he uses has optical stabilisation. If you think shooting hand held at 1.4X life size is impressive (and I admit that it is) you should look up John Kimbler, who does hand held insect macros at up to 7X life size.

      1. Well, he’s shooting hand held in that picture. 🙂 He also has good macro flashes (something I once considered buying but they are quite expensive) and you can shoot macro quite well hand held if you are not using a shallow depth of field. As soon as you do (which you have to inevitably if you do not use flash), macro kicks your ass & you have to go get your tripod.

        1. He’s using standard Speedlight flashes, not special macro ones (SB400 is the pocket Speedlight that costs about 100 bucks each).

          He has a very nice camera body, but the lenses & etc are nothing special – good quality, yes, but something that a “pro-sumer” could use.

          Macro work without a tripod is definitely possible but it’s a real art!

  7. And under UV (spiders can see in the UV spectrum):

    I’m curious. Many birds see into the near UV, and uric acid fluoresces for some UV wavelengths, and absorbs others. I’m wondering if this pattern of UV reflection isn’t emulating that of real bird poop; if it isn’t more to do with crypsis, and avoiding predation, than as a visual signal to other spiders.

    It might also be important for not alerting prey, as insects also see into the UV.

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