Readers’ wildlife photos

December 3, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photos come from reader Tony Eales in Queensland, and they’re lovely pictures of spiders. Tony’s captions and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Here’s a grab bag of spiders I’ve photographed recently.

Firstly, two Arkys, my favourite spider genus.

Arkys speechleyi. These are relatively common in the right habitat but I haven’t seen this colour form before. The reddish-pink cephalothorax and legs are new to me. I like how it looks like it’s offering me some of its wasp(?) meal.

The other Arkys is A. cornutus, a species I haven’t seen in a few years. They are wonderfully colourful spiders in the 5-6mm range.

I recently found my first Carepalxis sp., a genus I’ve been hoping to encounter for a while. I find their bulbous faces quite mournful. They are rarely encountered spiders, hiding in the day and making a small orb web at night. The genus is present not just in Australia but also South and lower North America.

I also found a nice all-green member of the Araneus circulissparsus species complex. These are some of the prettiest small orb-weavers around. They often have yellow orange and deep red patches that look rather like a sherbet lolly we have called a fruit tingle.
The all-green one:

A more colourful one.

One I see commonly at night in the rainforests is the colourful Copa kabana in the family Corinnidae. The spider was described by Robert Raven in 2015. The genus name Copa already existed and I just think Robert Raven couldn’t resist the joke.

Another rather recently described spider from the family Lamponidae. This is a Gondwanan family with most species endemic to Australia but also found in New Guinea and New Caledonia. Two species have been accidentally introduced into New Zealand from Australia. Most members of this family are specialist spider-hunting spiders. I found this one, Centsymplia glorious, hunting through the moss on a tree trunk in the rainforest. This montotypic genus and species were described in 2000 from a specimen collected at Mt Glorious which it is named for and where I found this one.

I watched some interesting behaviour from this pair of net-casting spiders, Menneus sp. The female, on the left, was trying to hunt but constantly had to put down her net to chase off the amorous male, right. She’d pick the net up again, stretch it out, only to have the male come up and disturb her again.

Lastly, a cute little jumping spider that I encounter in the rainforest fairly regularly. Probably an undescribed member of the genus Tara. And when I say “small”, they are small!

15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. I DO love the spider pictures, and these are no exceptions. Wonderful!

    As an aside, though, I can’t believe that Dr. Raven named that spider Copa Kabana…it’s obviously NOT north of Havana. Still, given spiders’ notorious courtship dynamics, of which the net-casters above provide only the mildest of examples, Barry Manilow’s advice does seem good: Don’t fall in love.

  2. Great photos and fun diversity of spiders.

    As an amateur photographer, I’m curious as to the set-up for shooting these specimen as my attempts at shooting macros that close are usually fraught with the subjects scurrying away.

    1. One cannot emphasize enough the importance of cropping. You can photograph a critter at a distance that does not (quite) scare them off, but then you can crop the hell out of the picture, and surprisingly the picture will still hold up well on the computer screen.

    2. Very familiar to cropping, but it’s also a question of resolution. Only so much data is recorded by the sensor, so cropping (basically, a version of digital zoom) is limited by the amount of information available. This is especially true for the last spider.

      That is a very small subject, and capturing the photo at a distance won’t give you enough information to successfully crop, and those are exceptionally clear, sharp, and well-lit photos (hardly any bothersome shadows). Very difficult to do “in the wild”. These photos are likely post-processed, but still, you need a very good photo to begin with.

      Doable at a distance, maybe, if one has very expensive lens/camera combination. For shooting the jumping spider with my 105mm macro lens and 20MP camera, I’d have to be very close so that when I crop the photo I’d still have enough detail captured to resolve into a sharp image.

      Now, if I had a medium format camera with resolutions north of 50MP, then, yes, I can shoot from a distance and crop.

      And,again those have excellent lighting, which implies a ring flash or remote/offset flash and maybe a dedicated shooting stage where one can control the light and the subject, especially important for ISO, shutter speed, and f-stops choices to control depth of field (excellent in those photos).

      This is beyond the interest of most readers and not the forum to address it, but those are high-quality captures and I’d still be interested in lens/camera/light/set-up information.

      1. Mark’s better at the macro photography game than I am and he’s quite right about the cropping. The close up Tara picture is cropped from one not much closer than the pic showing my thumb. And I only have a Nikon D7200 so the resolution is not huge.

        Scurrying is always a problem. The number of beautiful subjects I’ve lost trying to get them in frame or simply flying away at first sight of the camera are legion. Spiders help get around that problem as many species will just sit stock still and are unconcerned with lights and flashes.

        The lenses are just whatever works, a lot if my friends reduce their minimal focus distance with extension tubes and raynox clip on macro filters but I tend to just use a Tamron 90mm macro lens with no additions. I can take a distant shot at first and move closer and closer if the subject is willing. There’s no substitute for shoving the lens right up in their face if they stay still for it but there’s no shame in cropping a more distant shot.

        The lighting is the thing I spend the most time and least money on. I don’t like ring flashes. I construct flash diffusers with cardboard, packing foam, translucent material, gaffer tape and stick on Velcro. The aim being to bounce the light down to just in front of the lens and scatter it around the subject as much as possible.

        That’s it really. Mid range camera. Macro lens. Home made flash diffuser and getting to know your subjects and their quirks.

        1. Thanks for the info. I’ve not tried diffusers and I rarely use a flash, so perhaps that’s something I can work on. And again, cropping is something I do for almost every shot.

          I’ve only had one jumping spider I was able to get close to and that’s because I had accidentally hurt it (not realizing it was a spider) and it was moving slow.

          https://dispersertracks.com/2020/05/08/itsy-bitsy-spider-feeling-terrible-and-a-h-stories-voting-reminder/

          Still, the depth of field is always an issue. Plus, I don’t get to practice much because I seldom see them.

          I have no problem with bees, wasps, and larger subjects, but tiny stuff is challenging (for me). In part because I also rarely use a tripod (as in never) and my micro-movements cause me focus issues at close distances.

          Anyway, thanks for the response and hope we didn’t bore other readers too much.

    3. I too am in awe of Tony’s ability to use the camera as a microscope, and I’m not even a photographer. Also, these photos are just way cool, because: spiders, Australia, weirdness.

    1. They are.
      Being able to get up close to these wee beasts and having to learn their ways has given me an appreciation for them that I would never have guessed at even a few short years ago.

  3. The second photo of the Araneus circulissparsus is jaw-dropping beautiful. I always enjoy your photos, Tony. Thanks for another wonderful batch.

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