Readers’ wildlife photos

April 15, 2021 • 8:00 am

Mark Sturtevant graces us with some spider photos today; his previous two posts on this species are here and here.  Mark’s captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. Note the immense trouble he took to get these photos!

Readers may remember some posts a while back about the six-spotted fishing spider (Dolomedes triton). This is a spider that spends much time out on water, and I had earlier shown how it can duck under the water for protection, and how it will even prey on small fish. The spider that I used to show these things is here once again in a final installment. This time she even sat for some focus stacking sessions. The prospect of attempting this seemed dubious since fishing spiders are very fast, moving in short bursts, and although mine was not fully grown, she was certainly large enough to inspire second thoughts.

I set her up in my studio (the dining room table) on a black plastic plate with a small amount of water. The water was used in the hope that it would make her feel like she was in her element. The session was done at night, with the room lights kept low so she could not see me well, and I proceeded to do focus stacks as quickly and unobtrusively as possible. Surprisingly, the whole thing worked out well. A single successful stack required 60+ pictures, taken in burst mode with the help of the Helicon Fb tube, and the pictures were then merged in Zerene Stacker. The resulting pictures were finally extensively cleaned up in a photo editor since hairy things readily produce a lot of artifacts when focus stacked. Readers can  see lots of hairy details if they click to enlarge.

Now she would frequently want to clean her feet, which required me to wait. And wait. And at times she would suddenly disappear from the stage. But I could hear the “tappatappatappa” of her feet on the table, so I could know roughly where to look when I could get the room lights on for a retrieval. She would be trapped under a cup, carried back to the stage, allowed to calm the heck down, and then the cup could be-oh-so-carefully removed to have another go at stacking.

Here are cellphone pictures of the arrangement that was used. The paired lights are a pair of bicycle LED headlights which I have here attached to some flexible arms, and the lens has a fluorescent ring light that came off of an old dissecting microscope. A memory that stays with me still is how very exhausting the whole effort was. And the constant adrenaline.

Thanks for looking!


20 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. It is so great to see so much detail! Are the large black bristles stiff? Are they defensive or do they have some other purpose?

    I love watching fishing spiders in the wild. It would never occur to me to bring one back for close-up photography–I’d just assume it would go badly, with the spider fleeing to some distant spot where she couldn’t be safely retrieved.

  2. I am in awe of these photos, and your work in general. No matter how busy or distracted I am, If I see your name at the top of a Readers’ Wildlife Photos post, I will always pause to look at them. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  3. Amazing! You are truly the macro master. And thanks so much for sharing your procedure – very interesting.

  4. Seems like a a lot of work but you can’t argue with the results. Beautiful images and I just love reading about the process. Thank you.

  5. Wow. With all that elaborate set-up, I wonder if the spider goes back to it’s friends and tells them tall tales of being abducted by some strange alien spaceship and observed before being released.

    And the “tappatappatappa” of her feet on the table?” Is it that loud, or do you have incredibly advanced hearing?

  6. Fantastic. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as fishing spiders. So beautiful.

    I’m guessing – with your dining room table set up you don’t have many dinner parties. 😉

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