Monday, February 3, 2014

Collection: Spiders & Webs

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I’m leading with an image of just a web in consideration of those readers with strong reactions to spiders.  Now is your chance to move on—you have been warned.  I have no particular love for spiders indoors, but over the course of our travel year, I became fascinated with photographing them and their webs.  I think that fascination comes from both the technical challenge of capturing a web in contrast to the background, or a sharply focused close-up of the spider itself, combined with how beautiful the result can be when you finally get it right.  I was surprised to find that spiders had become my second favorite subject after spirals.

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The distribution of spiders was also interesting.  We saw a fair number in the US on our road trip, but almost none in South America.  A few in New Zealand (none notably photogenic, which is odd in a country where nearly everything else was), and then a dearth in Australia.
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The number (and size) of the spiders skyrocketed in Asia—not surprising, but odd compared to the numbers we saw in similar latitudes and weather in the Galapagos.  Above, is a harmless garden spider which our guide at the time spotted in a web over the trail.  After he gently coaxed it down and asked who would like to hold it, Lana volunteered her hand.
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It’s probably not obvious where the spider is in this picture.  There isn’t just one spider; the brown stringy mass on the left is a writhing heap of spiders.  Hundreds of long-legged, small bodied spiders crawling all over each other.  If they just hatched, they’re pretty huge already.
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A little over half of my pictures of spiders and webs came from Madagascar.  In part, that’s because we spent three weeks hiking to see wildlife and landscapes, so we naturally had more chances to see them than in more urban locations.
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This is one of the few spiders in Madagascar that is poisonous to humans.  It was big and creepy looking, even before we knew it was poisonous.
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The spider above is easily the largest spider we saw.  Our guide spotted it on a night walk.  Below is a golden orb spider, named after the yellow-colored silk it weaves.  It was also fairly large—the legs span about 3”.  It makes one of the largest and strongest webs in the world; strong enough to catch birds, inadvertently.
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I’m not sure why this spider built its web behind a waterfall, but each strand of web collected mist, and was very pretty in the raking light.
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Above is the last spider picture from Madagascar.  I didn’t find any in Egypt or Jordan; the remaining three are from Europe.
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