Ghost Spider

White Crab Spider

Failing to find anything camera-worthy on a short walk with the lenses ready, one of my self-prescribed fall-back bits of advice is this: stop looking, start seeing.

Just stop. Stand in place a few minutes. Scan from your feet to straight up overhead. Turn a full 360 in the five minutes you stand where ever you are. You might see nothing that draws your eye. But your chances of finding a composition rise–especially for the small and inconspicuous–as you pay attention to the details (like this white crab spider I found in this way) missed when you move too quickly past small visions.

I’m not particularly happy with this shot, though it did present several challenges. This port-wine decorated crab spider was in the shadows of an overcast sky yesterday morning. The plant it perched on swayed in and out of focus in the gentle breeze and my hands weren’t all that steady. My subject measured no more than 5/8 inch across. And how do you get a decent exposure when the darn thing is WHITE!

Does it strike you as odd that a predator like this that depends on stealth and ambush should be so glaringly conspicuous? And what’s with the splotches of color? (No, I don’t have answers.)

Maybe I’ll go back this morning for another go before full sun crests the ridge. This time, I’ll carry the tripod and set it up with the shaft inserted at 90 degrees. I’ve never used the Canon Powershot A620 (Ann’s camera) on the tripod. I expect it to be frustrating. I expect I’ll learn something. I may have more pix to show you tomorrow.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Hello Sir. May I ask your permission to use your ghost spider photo for my facebook primary photo? Thanks very much.
    God bless…