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One subject that presents photographers with wonderful opportunities but also a lot of challenges is the spider’s web. There’s something about their delicate nature (while also being incredibly strong for their size), flexibility and beauty that draws me to them every time.
But how do you photograph spider’s webs? Here are 11 tips to keep in mind:
Spider’s webs are incredibly light and if there’s even a hint of breath in the air they’re likely to move as you photograph them. This has the potential to not only cause blur in your shot – but also movement will shake off any moisture on them and potentially could even break them. Generally the stillest part of the day is early morning (which is also a great time for finding dew covered webs).
We’ve covered this topic numerous times here at DPS but it’s worth remphasising. Remember that where there’s a web there’s a little (or not so little) creature that made it.
The backgrounds of all shots are important as they either add to or distract from the shot. WIth spider’s webs it is particularly important to have a plain and preferably dark background. This will enable the web itself to stand out and be the feature of the shot.
To isolate the web further from your plain and dark background choose a large aperture (small ‘f/number’) to give you a shallow depth of field. This will throw your background out of focus.
Photographing webs from all angles can leave you with interesting results – however getting directly in front of the web and shooting from straight on will enable you to keep the full web in focus as the distance from your lens to all parts of the web will be similar – negating any narrow depth of field you might have. Of course you might also like some shallow depth of field shots (large apertures for these) from different angles to see what effect you can get.
Switching your camera to manual mode is something that most macro photographers find helpful because even the slightest changes in focussing can have a large impact. As webs are so fine even being slightly out of focus can ruin your shot.
Keeping the web still by shooting on a still day is important – but so is keeping your camera still. The intricate details of a web on a contrasting background mean that camera movement will be very noticeable.
One of the classic photos of spider’s webs are those with dew or rain droplets on them. The great thing about moisture on a web is that it widens the web slightly and helps it to stand out more clearly. As already mentioned – the best time of day for dewy webs is mornings.
Use your zoom to get in as close as you can to the spider’s web. If you’ve got a macro lens or macro mode switch to it to help you focus up nice and close. Another framing is to focus upon just a smaller part of the web and the patterns that you see there. In this way you can end up with some real detail and abstract composition.
Sometimes a web can look quite dull and lifeless from one side while the other side has the light falling upon it in a way that just brings it to life! This will also help you to see the web with a different background.
I find that shooting with natural light is generally best – but sometimes adding some artificial light with a flash can light up the web nicely and get some good highlights.
note: This post was originally posted in 2009 but has been updated and republished for the benefit of newer readers.
September 20, 2013 04:46 am
Can i know how to photograph spiders with (canon SX30 is)as i am a beginner ...?
July 30, 2013 06:01 am
Waiting for a meal amongst my sage...
July 26, 2013 09:38 pm
All about photography
March 2, 2013 01:15 am
Well, it's convincing. There's a similar article I read earlier on another blog but not as explanatory as this.
January 26, 2012 10:53 am
December 19, 2011 05:34 pm
October 21, 2011 05:27 am
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/2011ms/6202790609/' title='_MG_0323' url='http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6149/6202790609_4487f2c5bf.jpg']
October 21, 2011 01:46 am
October 21, 2011 01:37 am
October 20, 2011 11:38 pm
As always great tips from DPS. Here is one I took few weeks back.
October 20, 2011 10:54 pm
Good tips, just did some a couple weeks ago myself. http://www.flickr.com/photos/denise_worden/6226546062/in/photostream
July 13, 2011 09:32 am
awesome subject. look forwards to try more of this.
I have one web but the wind was giving me hard time
July 2, 2011 07:03 am
Been trying for a hour to photograph a spider web with a dark green foliage of a wild rose as the background. I am using a Fuji S5000 that can be set to manual mode and macro. But being the dummy that I am i tried to allow the camera to focus automatically in Macro mode and out of 15 shots, I got one that showed the spider web. Sun was to the right of the web and was reflecting off the strands. I will remember to use a tripod next time although there was very little wind, it was enough to make the web move a bit. Thank you for posting this "How To" I got a chance to photograph the web again tomorrow as long as there is no rain. As far as Dew on the spider web it makes a nice addition but sort of detracts from the amazing engineering of a spider in constructing a web whether it be a perfect circular pattern or the one that I am trying to capture which is in the shaper of a sail on a boat. I just could not get my camera to focus in on the web. the camera thought I was trying to focus on the rose bush instead of the spider web. I will go out tomorrow with more confidence from reading this page on spider webs.
June 25, 2011 03:34 pm
So correct, look for a dark background when taking a shot of spider web.
[eimg url='http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_32iDD3SN82U/TNU1sO0WnBI/AAAAAAAABco/0woEoz250w4/s400/gagamba.jpg' title='gagamba.jpg']
June 24, 2011 11:59 pm
I'm quite glad you updated it as I had not seen it before. I've always wanted to shoot a web but never get up early enough to get the dew. Thanks for the tips I will try to keep them in mind.
June 19, 2011 09:06 pm
Great article.. very eager to go spider hunting now..
June 18, 2011 07:51 pm
Good review. My only comment is to use as much working distance as possible. Even with a rock solid tripod and no wind,, if you are within 6 feet of the web, the heat from your body and minimum movement will generate enough air disturbance to cause an unsharp image. For this reason, a telephoto lens may give a much sharper image than a 55 mm macro. Consider extension tube(s) to get the distance. If one can afford it, probably a 200mm macro is the ideal lens. Bob
June 18, 2011 06:04 pm
And what do You think about this web? http://www.flickr.com/photos/jacek_piwowarczyk/2830939743/
June 18, 2011 04:59 am
This blog again illustrates one of its major attributes: the posts from the readers that are so informative and interesting. So no probs about the repeat Darren. Photograph them from both sides eh? Mmmm ... ok.
June 17, 2011 11:03 pm
You may love this.
June 17, 2011 07:01 pm
Interesting article which shows the natural beauty all around us. Shooting early morning is likely to give the best results.
June 17, 2011 03:26 pm
Hows this one ?
Shot using Canon PowerShot SX20
June 17, 2011 03:02 pm
Raelly very helpful tips.
I tried photographing the web earlier but pics were not so good. Hope this will help me to get more interesting pics now ..
Thanks for the tips !!
June 17, 2011 09:47 am
Early morning when the fog has been in, the sun just barely up or still hidden by clouds: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/spider-work-roy-erickson.html
June 17, 2011 03:17 am
Thanks for the tips!
Here's one i did a few years ago http://www.redbubble.com/people/elasita/art/2455002-dewdrops-on-spiderweb
June 17, 2011 02:29 am
i was always having trouble with the background of a spiderweb; i tried erecting a dark shower curtain as a backdrop but i didn't like the result, so i shot in sepia; i also waited until the sun illuminated the web at a 90 degree angle & shot straight on at the web; unfortunately not many folks appreciate my artisitic vision , here's my example http://www.flickr.com/photos/30089437@N05/3504943025/in/photostream
June 17, 2011 02:16 am
How did Posada make the red background?
June 17, 2011 02:08 am
Great tips. I tried once to get a spider web and it didn't work but I'm still hoping to get one.
June 17, 2011 01:44 am
Thanks for the weekly tips, thay are great!
Some more "tips" on webs.
Definitely use a tripod, more stability and you have your hands free.
Use manual focus, especially with a macro lens, you can get in closer then.
Use a bottle of water with a spray action on it to put water onto the web, if it has too little water on it.
I have used a brass coloured kitchen tray to reflect the sunlight onto the web, it gives it a golden colour.
Regards Mike Munro
June 17, 2011 01:04 am
One thing that was left out of this article is that if you don't have dew on the web, you can simulate it with a water mister, as long as your careful to spray from far enough away that you don't break the strands with the water pressure
June 16, 2011 05:45 pm
I only have a digital camera and I find it amazing for those people who can capture snapshots of spider's web. Well, gotta wake up early and find the spider's web nearby. I am really interested with this and now I learn that morning is the best time to capture it.
June 16, 2011 05:59 am
Nice tips and beautiful shots.
June 15, 2011 05:32 pm
June 15, 2011 03:47 pm
This one was taken at dawn in Rotorua, New Zealands geothermal park!
"Pearls of Light" http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/pearls-of-light/
June 15, 2011 09:34 am
will take into consideration
June 14, 2011 11:07 pm
awesome pictures, my favorites are the sunset pictures, I Have from USA, Japan, Peru etc.
June 14, 2011 02:21 pm
Another great article on DPS. I live in one of the windiest locales on earth, so it's extremely hard to get a calm day. When it happens, I going straight under my deck for some macro spider web shots though!
June 14, 2011 12:08 pm
Great article. I would add one thought. I find early morning is the best time to find webs (that could just be in Florida). So I try to shoot the webs in the golden hour.
I also have one of a side shot that I like. It may not be that good but, I like it a lot.
I didn't use a macro for this. I used the kit lense (18-55mm) I had to get real close as this spider is only a bout a 1/4 inch long.
June 14, 2011 06:56 am
So this is mine exemple for web. Thank you for "how to".
June 14, 2011 03:58 am
The sun was just starting to come through to the forest floor when I saw this web, the light reflecting off it was what made me want to take the shot.
June 14, 2011 03:56 am
Nice article. Think early in the morning is the best time for spider webs.
This one is with a old manual Nikon FM, 135mm and b/w Ilford HP5 film.
June 14, 2011 03:27 am
Nice article; spiders in webs are awesome subjects!
June 14, 2011 03:00 am
Here is another type of Spider Web...more like a Cob Web. This hasnt been cleaned at this winery for many many years!
June 14, 2011 02:57 am
I was lucky to get the spider and some dew in one shot.
June 14, 2011 02:56 am
This is great advice! My one attempt at this so far looks more like a spider in mid-air (no web):
June 14, 2011 02:45 am
Thanks, I recall the previous 2009 post. I enjoyed the tips then and this will send me back out with my spray bottle.
June 14, 2011 02:25 am
June 14, 2011 01:28 am
This is a most unexpected "how to" blog post topic, but I like it. I often find it hard to setup a tripod when photographing insects out in a forest, etc due to all the obstacles in the way, so I often use flash, as was the case for photographing these garden spiders (and dragonfly) in Florida:
Spiders and dragonflies must be the most cooperative muti-legged creatures to make macro photos of since spiders on their webs are statue still and dragonflies when perched are very approachable.
June 14, 2011 01:05 am
Here's a photo of a spiderweb I took this weekend.
January 31, 2011 05:01 am
JI have my first DSLR Canon T2i and I'm now in Hawaii for 3 months and have not downloaded the software CD. (I left it at home)! The handbook tells me not to download photos from the camera before installing the software. I do have software on my computer from my previous canon but again it says not to download to old software. What do you think? I really want to see my photos on my computer and 3 months is a long time to wait but I don't want to do any damage.
I love your newsletter. What a great website. Thanks look forward to your comments
April 6, 2010 06:06 pm
April 6, 2010 06:01 pm
here is one of the pics I took of the webs I found in the park
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/mich_rademan_photography/4432393153/' title='Double Web' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4017/4432393153_58bc369e28.jpg']
April 6, 2010 05:59 pm
here is one of the webs I captured !!
January 7, 2010 02:57 am
Nice guide. Here's another little tip, which is usefull when shooting with the camera on the cellphone.
More often than not, it's hard to get the camera to focus on the object(spider) rather than the background. This is caused by the fact that you can't get close enough to make the spider fill enough in the seeker without getting to close to focus.
By using the digital zoom, you can :)
November 30, 2009 03:12 am
[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/vidhya_157/3976889143/' title='Mr Spiedy!!' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2452/3976889143_a9db3cbe80.jpg']
November 30, 2009 03:12 am
here is my pic
November 20, 2009 01:01 am
im newwer here..
anybody want to sell used D80?
November 2, 2009 07:59 pm
Please critique on this
October 31, 2009 11:49 pm
Good tips ; as usual I always enjoy knowing and experimenting
October 19, 2009 10:48 pm
this my first try
October 18, 2009 08:09 am
These photos are incredible. You've give some really fantastic tips. :)
October 16, 2009 09:37 am
Darren...You have once again brought in some beautiful photos and great advice. Thanks so much. I look forward to your newsletter each week. Hope your hand/wrist is healing nicely.
October 12, 2009 04:50 am
Some good tips here.
Here's one I took recently
October 11, 2009 06:32 pm
Don't forget why spiders spin webs
October 10, 2009 10:01 pm
Oops - here are the pics, sorry!!
October 10, 2009 10:00 pm
Thanks for the awesome tips.Here are a few of my attempts from a few months back.
Spring is a great time for photography - wish it could last all year!
October 10, 2009 02:48 am
Thanks for the great tips. Now I know why I have had so much trouble shooting the webs in my back yard. I'll know what to do from now on. Thank you for sharing such great tips!!
October 9, 2009 10:36 pm
October 9, 2009 10:34 pm
ops, sorry.. here it is my spider web shot..http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellie_pryadh/3994766997/
October 9, 2009 10:30 pm
Thanks for the tip.. it is very helpful.
This is my first attempt to shoot spider web: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellie_pryadh/
October 9, 2009 06:47 pm
Nice article.. ...here's mine.. ..tripod, manual focus (auto was grabbing on to the edge of the dew drops rather than the refracted light in the middle and leaving a dull gray halo) and a little bit of fill flash (which highlighted the bottom of each drop)
October 9, 2009 06:45 pm
write for spray
October 9, 2009 06:36 pm
Pl answer -is water spray useful on webs? will fine spay of water cling to spider web? because, in nature water attaches to web from condensation ? even if it attaches to web will it look natural?
October 9, 2009 04:03 pm
Spider webs are excellent for photography. If we look for it early in the morning may be we can get with natural due drops on it. Certainly use manual settings and focusing and try it from different angles. Always watch the effect of sunlight on it from different angles and use the right perspective. It really can give dramatic effects on the frame.
As much as possible, do not destroy it for your photos !
I have a few with me which I love to watch often.
Have a great Day !
October 9, 2009 02:23 pm
Hai everybody here i am just giving my linkn of the photographs of spider web which i took in my Nikon d60 camera, please rate this photogrpah , thank you
October 9, 2009 02:15 pm
Here's mine (night time):
October 9, 2009 01:49 pm
Water bottle? very nice....... I will have to try this. Thanks
October 9, 2009 01:43 pm
Thanks for the tips.
October 9, 2009 11:24 am
Thanks for the article. The article is full and well studied and very useful fo most macro or closeup photographers.Thank you again
October 9, 2009 10:39 am
Great tips Ross. Had always find it daunting to capture the web , however your tips give me enough courage to work on it again. Thanks
October 9, 2009 09:48 am
I took this one in my back garden on a dewy morning. http://www.flickr.com/photos/pantone801/3576867645/
October 9, 2009 08:41 am
Great article! I would add shooting with a tripod and a remote. I read an article on using water with a spray bottle on flowers to give them that "dew" effect. I would use the same technique on the spiders web. Can't hurt the spider cause it rains...and lets remember its just a spider the world is full of them! But really good article thanks for the tips every week.
October 9, 2009 07:34 am
Thanks, I have been waiting a long time to find out more about this subject. Keep up the good work. By the way, can one use a water spray like in flower photography to get water drops on the web?
October 9, 2009 06:11 am
I love your shoots. I Have a Minolta maxx 7 can I get the web kind of shoot without lens?
I want to improve on my camera work Please can you be of any help.
October 9, 2009 05:05 am
Very intresting and usefull tips. After reading this I feel like attempting photographing a web now and show it to all
October 9, 2009 03:45 am
I have no luck. I have not found such a sider web :) I've found only this:
Here webof spider is the least visible
and this is down of hero :D
October 9, 2009 03:05 am
I took this in total Darkness, Focusing was the big issue and then I ended up blowing out the spider
October 9, 2009 03:02 am
Good article but "shesnuckinfuts'" byline should be deleted if showing to young children (who can read & figure it out.)
October 9, 2009 02:23 am
Very helpful tips and tricks!!
I noticed from this photostream( http://www.flickr.com/photos/lordv/ ) the amazing effect that rain on spider webs can have. I tried a few shots myself with this kind of result (wish I had a dedicated Macro lens!!):
Thanks again DPS for another interesting article.
October 8, 2009 11:24 pm
If you'd prefer not to have to get up too early to photograph the web complete with dew drops, then just take a little plant mist sprayer bottle with you... instant dew drops at any time of day!
October 8, 2009 10:52 pm
I've just used flash to make web noticable, btw shot was taken at night.
October 8, 2009 11:40 am
Below is a picture I took a while back on a spider web. In the picture, the spider wrote my name (JedDelmiguez - that's how I translated it anyway..lol) on its web. This reminded me of the movie Charlotte's Web - if you guys have seen it.
October 8, 2009 07:02 am
Thanks, Darren, for a marvelous article & great tips. Only wish it'd been published yesterday -- when I saw a great spider web on a bridge near a historical site I was visiting. I got one so-so picture, but I could have done much better if I'd had a chance to see these first. At least now I'll be prepared.
October 8, 2009 06:34 am
Thanks alot Darren great tips. If I can manage to wake up early enough I will go out into my garden and look for some spiders webs.
October 8, 2009 05:35 am
Would it be wrong to use a mister to add droplets to the spider web?
October 8, 2009 04:59 am
Any suggestion on proper exposure for spider webs?
October 8, 2009 04:23 am
Spiders remake their webs quite frequently, even every day. I wouldn't worry too much about misting or dusting them, unless you are using poison for that purpose. They can also go without food for a very long time, so the risk to the spider is pretty much nil.
September 4, 2009 02:02 am
Here's my attempt at shooting a spiderweb, I hope you like it
September 4, 2009 02:01 am
Here's my attempt at shooting a spiderweb, I hope you like it
July 12, 2009 07:02 pm
Thanks for these tips!
My only diffculty now is trying to spray water on the webs to make them more noticeable.
May 14, 2009 06:35 am
ii love this ... how interesting.
May 9, 2009 11:26 pm
Thanks for the great article! I am exciting to go spider hunting now! :)
February 29, 2008 07:30 pm
very helpful tips!
January 11, 2008 02:12 am
In lieu of dew you can get ultra fine misters that are about the size of a normal waterbottle. Spraying it about 4 or 5 inches above the web can simulate a nice dew effect without distrubing the web itself. The spider might get a little irked about taking a shower but...
September 5, 2007 12:30 am
I make this spider picture with a macro 150mm.
See the red sky and the spiderhead details
May 9, 2007 09:38 pm
I have had varying degrees of sucess in my attempts in photographing spider webs. thanks for the tips, I anticipate much better results armed with your excellent ideas.
April 2, 2007 09:18 am
Wow, thanks for the tips and the sample photos. It's a hard subject as I find the spiders too small to fill the frame, might need a longer lens
April 1, 2007 06:49 am
thanks for the interesting and timely information! Earlier this week, I was photographing a web and found some of the pitfalls you mentioned here. Scratched my head a few times but now, armed with this information, I can go back and feel prepared.
March 31, 2007 02:15 pm
Thanks a ton for the ever helpful tips
March 31, 2007 05:37 am
thanks a lot for so much useful information
March 30, 2007 06:44 pm
What went wrong with this one?
March 30, 2007 02:27 pm
The spider relies on the stickiness of the web for its effectiveness. If you cover it in cornstarch, you are soaking up the stickiness surface area and probably reducing, if not eliminating, the chances of that web catching a good meal. Perhaps bringing a fine water mister would work in a more eco-friendly manner if it can produce a very fine mist and is sprayed from far away.
March 30, 2007 10:24 am
March 30, 2007 09:09 am
Thanks for the article - it reminded me of some web pictures I'd taken months ago, then as luck would have it, the next morning was incredibly misty (at first I was annoyed as there had been glorious sunshine lately, but I packed my camera anyway) and I found some beautiful webs. Pictures at:
March 30, 2007 07:47 am
i've read that misting the web with a spray bottle is sometimes useful
March 30, 2007 07:11 am
good article! taged!
March 29, 2007 10:26 am
Nice tips. Bring on the spiders!
March 28, 2007 10:37 pm
Nice shot n gr8 work
March 28, 2007 05:59 pm
Thanks for the tipps!
I enjoy this site very much, keep up the great work.
March 28, 2007 05:15 pm
I remember a while back, National Geographic did an article on spiders. If I recall, one of the people studying spiders would use a sock full of cornstarch, hitting it repeatedly until he could see the web. Perhaps this technique could be of use? Not sure if it damages the spider's web, though...probably best to find out that first.
March 28, 2007 10:29 am
Here I just have to submit a link to Nina Katchadourian's mended spiderweb photos:
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