Thursday, January 12, 2012

From my window

I never thought it possible, but I photographed through my second floor window, which was not too dirty having been cleaned recently. Often, during the early sunlit morning as I sit at my desk working, I look through this window. For the past few months, I noticed several spiny orb weaver webs built between two large trees,square in front of me at eye level. The morning sun provides a back light such that I can more closely observe the spider and its silky orb expanding 1-2 ft across.

A few days ago, I took interest in a couple of them. One was building or rebuilding its web, having only 3 or 4 outer circles completed. The background from my view (slightly above the spiders) is messy, consisting of buildings, grass, shrubs and trees, water and the reflections of these objects in the water. Oh yes, and ducks. With a wide enough aperture, these objects will blur out as most of them were several dozen feet away. Lighting was tricky however, with shadows and highly lit areas competing with each other.

At any rate, I set up my exposure to brighten the web and spider as much as possible and keep the background consistent and dark. I began composing, with window between me and my subject.To get an even background, I had to negotiate around my desk and computer, and had only a narrow range to work with. From the following two photos, you can see the progress made by this busy spider.

The next day, I noticed that the same little spider was rebuilding its web. Next to it was its neighbor that had a larger web. It also appeared to be doing some maintenance work on it. The next two images demonstrate some of this work.

The spider's web requires some support lines that shoot out from the center through the orb, and it appeared that she was rebuilding these, as seen here.

Soon, she was back in her center resting spot, with full support.

For post processing, I cropped only some of these photos, particularly the images of the larger spider that showed up so well in the back light. I also liked the light reflecting on the web, so I used some curve work to lighten the lights while maintaining a dark background as much as possible. No cloning or noise reduction were used on these photos. As Dorothy once said after returning from Oz, "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard." Well, maybe I will, but it sure is a good feeling to know that the spiny orb weaver is a few feet away.

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