I took these pictures of a boreal jumping spider (Phidippus borealis) feeding on a western tent caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum) last June. I spotted the spider just after it had caught the caterpillar and was dragging it across the leaf of one of the banana plants in my garden. It’s always amazing to see what large prey small spiders are able to catch and haul around. Sort of like me killing a bull moose and carrying it home for dinner.
Shooting this little critter was awkward as it was climbing around about six feet off the ground and it clearly didn’t want me to watch. The entire shoot consisted of it and I playing hide and seek in the thicket of banana plants. At the time I was mainly shooting with my 35mm Zuiko macro lens which has a very short working distance; and that made the experience even more challenging. In fact, it was the experience of trying to shoot this spider that finally convinced me to invest in a 60mm Zuiko micro 4/3 macro lens which has the same magnification but much better working distance.
I love the “got it” feeling when I press the shutter and know that I just captured a great photo. The feeling is especially satisfying after taking a long series of inferior photos in a difficult situation and/or of an uncooperative subject. But in this case I never got that feeling. I took many photos and eventually had to quit without feeling really satisfied. I just uploaded the pictures, and then filed them away.
Yesterday I re-opened the file and took another look at the images. I was surprised to find that there were a lot of pictures that I really liked. What really struck me was how variable the images are. Clearly I was changing things up while I was shooting in an effort (unsuccessfully so I thought) to get just the right shot. The result was a series of photos at different angles and with different compositions, some of which have a different feel from my typical work (in a good way).
Apparently it was worth reviewing these photos with “fresh” eyes. I wonder what other surprises I have tucked away in my files…?
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F8-11 @ 1/200 sec)
Lighting: Olympus FL-36 flash (Full power)