How to Photograph a Spider Web
We all know how fascinating spider webs can be and how impressive their construction is considering the fact that they are so thin and lightweight. Did you also know that photographing a spider web can provide you with a stunning picture, no matter if you capture its maker or not?
Still, it’s not just the matter of finding one that’s nicely formed and /not broken away by the wind or other elements that will give you the chance to get a nice image, but also using the background and the light to your advantage to make it stand out more and reveal all of its intricate details.
There’s also the fact of picking the right type of camera to do the job and also using the right shooting mode and settings to get as sharp and as noise free photos as possible. We will guide you through all of those things in this article, but also some extra tips to help you get the best spider web images as possible.
National Geographic – Spiderwebs and Spider Silk Explained
What’s the best type of gear to capture a spider’s web?
First of all, you’ll need a dedicated macro lens with a high magnification ratio of 1:2 or 1:1. Obtaining such a lens will allow you to focus close enough to the spider web itself, but also have enough room to move further from it on those occasions where moving in too close would cast a shadow over it.
Another useful thing about macro lenses is that they are usually very sharp, especially when stopped down, which will certainly prove beneficial to shooting spider webs because of their thin design and tiny details. If the camera of your choice has the focus peaking function, enable it, since it will help you immensely in achieving critical focus and good sharpness.
When it comes to choosing the right camera body, any modern camera will be capable enough to capture nice quality spider web photos, regardless of its sensor size. Just pick one that fits your budget and invest some time in mastering your focusing technique and learn how to make the most of the lighting conditions outside.
Is a tripod required to do the job?
Considering the fact that a spider web is a still subject and on most occasions you will have plenty of time to prepare for your shot, using a tripod to help you with composition and stability is a very good idea. Combining a tripod with a camera that has a fully articulating screen will also allow you to shoot at all kinds of different angles.
While your camera is set on a tripod, you’ll also be able to focus more easily, especially if you like to magnify your view to see the details on a web more clearly. Using that feature while holding the camera in your hands will amplify any effects of shaky hands and will make your job more complicated than it should be.
The last benefit of using a tripod for spider web photography is having the ability to play around with exposure adjustments and other features without affecting your composition. So, before you do anything on the camera itself, make sure that you’ve framed your shot the way you want it.
The best ways to make your spider web photos stand out
First, try to come as close as you can to the web and fill as much of your fame with it as possible. The more of the web is visible in your photos, the better. Also, try to compose your images so nothing distracts the viewer from the web itself and try to avoid putting other subjects around the net in sharp focus.
If a couple of blades of grass or other plants come between you and the web, get rid of them to get a clear view of the web itself. When it comes to getting a great composition you should also pay attention to your backgrounds and use them to your advantage to make the spider web stand out as much as possible.
You can either opt for a dark background to make the web stand as much as possible or add some colors to your images if there’s a lot of nature surrounding it. It’s also a great idea to search for spider webs after the rain, since the water droplets resting on the threads will allow you to get even more dramatic photos.
The steps to getting a perfectly exposed spider web image
While it makes sense to photograph spider webs in the sunny weather because of the abundance of available light, ideally, you should also avoid days with any level of wind blow, so you can be sure that the webs will stay still and not give you any issues with focusing or getting the right composition.
As is the case with most types of photography try to keep your ISO as low as possible, to get the best image quality out of your setup. However, if you do end up shooting on a somewhat windy day, increasing your shutter speed at the cost of higher ISO values will help you get better photos of spider webs, despite the tradeoff in increased noise.
When it comes to picking the right aperture, it’s always a good idea to use the largest value available for your lens or the value close to it if you want more sharpness in your images. Since spider webs are very thin, you will still be able to keep them in perfect focus and get a thin depth of field to separate them from the background.
As a side note, try to take photos of spider webs during sunsets or sunlights. The soft and colorful lights shining through the webs can give you a very different feel to your images and make them even more dramatic. This especially holds true for those times where there are water droplets on the webs, which will play nicely with the sunlight.
Post processing and editing tips and tricks
First of all, make sure that the spider webs in your photos are correctly exposed and easily distinguishable from the background. Increase the overall brightness and adjust the black levels and the contrast if necessary. If your backgrounds turn up to bright, reduce the highlight levels.
When it comes to colors, adjust them to achieve a mild and balanced look, so you don’t take the focus away from the spider webs themselves. We know it can be tempting to highlight the beautiful colors found in nature, but in this case, that would be more detrimental to achieving great spider web photos than beneficial.
So, in a nutshell, once you learn all the ins and outs of shooting spider web photos, you will find the process of creating them quite fun and rewarding. It’s certainly not the most demanding type of photography, but it can still yield you some fantastic results if the light and the different angles are used to your advantage.
Just make sure that you pick the right day to capture spider webs and that you have your tripod with you and you’ll be ready to explore your surroundings in search of those fascinating structures. Also, if possible, don’t go overboard with your ISO values and avoid pumping up the contrast and saturation too much in editing.
The aim of spider web photography is to fascinate the viewers with the intricate designs and details and letting those details shine in the best possible light should be your main goal and thus, you should keep that in mind when choosing the right exposure and playing around with those images in post production.