Brian's Photo Blog — Article 349
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An Office Web Companion
Sunday 13 July 2014   —   Category: Shooting
At the end of the afternoon a couple of days ago, it was story time once again in the Byrd household. I had started reading books to my oldest daughter as soon as she was old enough to enjoy it. More than fifteen years, and one or two hundred books later, I’m continuing the same daily, hour-long routine with my younger daughter Olivia.

There is a table, like an oblong island, right in the middle of my huge, upstairs home office. Olivia likes to sit on the floor at one end of it to listen during story time. I had just finished reading a few chapters in our current book — the out-of-the-ordinary, thought-provoking and entertaining The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden. As Olivia was getting up, she noticed an itsy-bitsy spider, with its webs, hanging down one side of the table.

Now I don’t like to kill anything, not even pests, but if they are going to invade my house, they are taking their lives into their own hands. I grabbed a paper towel and quickly dispatched the spider to the hereafter, whistling “the itsy-bitsy spider went up the water spout” tune all the while.

Yesterday morning, after I had returned from my daily neighborhood walk — during which I got some nice shots of the setting supermoon — I came back up to my office. Suddenly I noticed that there was another itsy-bitsy spider floating in midair! Instead of being discreetly on the side of the table, this spider decided to get in my face and build its web on TOP of the table, with strands connecting to the lamp hanging from the ceiling! It was almost as if it wanted to take revenge for the fate of its compatriot!

The web was so thin, and the light so poor, that I couldn’t see it with my naked eye. But I knew that a camera could! Because of the dim lighting I turned to my Manfrotto tripod for support. Mounting my Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro lens on my Olympus OM-D E-M5 body, I positioned the camera close to the subject du jour. The spider and its web were moving back and forth quite a bit in the wind, so I shut off the ceiling fan as well as the window fan, and also shut the window. Once the air was stabilized I began my photographic wild game safari!

It’s not apparent from the scale of the photo, but this itsy-bitsy spider was truly tiny — including the legs, the entire spider was less than 5mm long ... probably closer to 3mm! I took seven different shots, with the one shown here being the tops. You can click on it to see an enlarged version. Then click to the next photo to view a cropped close-up version.

As you can see, the Olympus macro lens did a great job. The backlighting from the window really helped as well — it makes the spider’s body seem translucent. Because the camera was pointed towards the web at an angle and not perpendicularly, only the part of the web where the spider was sitting is in focus, and the rest is out of focus, adding a further touch.

In a recent article I was describing the intensive, elaborate processing to which I sometimes subject my photos. Such extensive adjustments are frequently required in order to bring out the best in each picture. The amazing thing about this spider shot is that there is almost NO processing. Just a bit of noise reduction and sharpening, but that’s it. The image was practically perfect in every way, straight out of the camera! Now THAT is a rare occurrence!

Unfortunately, as I shared above, varmints are not welcome in my house — especially in my sacred office! Therefore, once it was done posing for me, this itsy-bitsy spider was dispatched to the hereafter, just like the one yesterday. But as I was swiping up the web, it seemed like there was one or two more spiders which I found on the tabletop! Yikes! Perhaps there’s a whole nest of itsy-bitsies! Just what I need, yet another office web companion!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 349
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