Winter isn’t the optimal time to be looking for creepy-crawlies in New Zealand. Even though expectations were low, I still wanted to try fine-tuning my nocturnal photography macro-rig. The problem seems to be finding some way to mount the small video light I have, along the central axis of the macro lens. This time I used rubber bands to attach it to the front of my flash. It worked, sort of. The video light is necessary to locate the spider and focus in on its eyes. For some reason, the light doesn’t bother them much.
I spurned the local snail population- and the curious neighbourhood cats- in favour of something more creepy-crawly. I got lucky- a male Cambridgea foliata obliged. For these shots I’m under the spider, looking up at it.
Fortunately they’re a relatively large species so this makes it easier to find the eyes in the dark. For the second shot I adjusted the lighting from the flashes, and tried to get a close up of the carapace.
Sadly no more attempts were possible. I knocked one of the myriad of warning threads these spiders have in the dark, and it dashed for safety.
A version of this blog appeared earlier on my Zenfolio website
Well, I seem to have got off on a classic Minolta lens binge at the moment. Minolta made the first popular auto-focus camera back in 1985, with the Maxxum (or Dynax) 7000. This was followed by a series of new AF lenses for this mount. These replaced the existing manual focus lens (MD or MC).
In the film era, camera companies tended to produce lenses with slightly different characteristics. For Minolta, the thing that made their lenses stand out was the colours. They had a colour fidelity and richness that appealed. If you ever hear some photographer talking about ‘Minolta colours’, that’s what they mean. I’m finding as I do more landscape photogaphy, this is what appeals to me.
As an indication of the lead Minolta built up in the 1980s, they had the first auto-focus 100mm macro lens. This was such a superb design, the modern Sony lens equivalent has made only minor changes to it. I acquired the RS version yesterday (this model went out of production in 1993). I wanted to see how it lasted, so gave it a try with my a900 last night.
These two spider shots are all done in manual mode. I’ve selected both the exposure (shutter speed, aperture) and the flash setting for my twin flash. The first spider I saw was a juvenile nursery-web spider- Dolemedes minor. It was on some pruned back flax.
The second was the nervous and wary Cambridgea sheetweb spider. By this time one of the local cats had come to help me. Despite this not being fully mature, I didn’t need to crop this pic at all.
Well, the good news is that the lens is in near perfect order. Despite its age and who knows, how many owners, this has survived nicely.
This is a shot of an orbweb spider in daytime, hence it is huddling in a perch, trying to stay camouflaged. This can be quite effective. It’s also a female if you care about such things.
For this shot I had combined a 50mm prime lens with my macro lens for increased magnification.
Click for larger image
This is a spider photo, which I actually took at Singapore Zoo. The novel feature I guess of this photo, is I didn’t have a proper macro lens to make the shot. So this is using a combination of a 70-200/4 lens and a achromatic diopter, with of course, a flash. In effect, I’m having to improvise. Which is a common issue with travel photography.
It is a female and an orbweb spider. The colours and spikes actually make for quite good camouflage.
Click image to bring up larger version