Creative Field Techniques - Photographing Spider Webs

Who can argue that the spider’s web design is an amazing feat of engineering and a great example of nature’s exquisiteness? Most would agree that it is and when viewed from a ‘safe’ distance, it can evoke positive emotions. For example, to me the spider web in the image above represents a gentle coexistence. Without the illumination of the warm sunlight, we could not see the intricate web design that appears strong, yet delicate. The thistle stalk is an important element adding balance and contrast to the scene without detracting from the main subject. The blurred background with the sun light above softens the scene and gives it warmth. Some definition in the background offers a sense of place. I positioned myself above the web and pointed down so that the darker grasses would be behind the brighter web. Had I gotten low to the ground, the web would be lost in the brighter sky background.

Here are some examples and tips to photograph spider webs.

Keep the sun in front of you so that the web is backlit as you see in all the images presented here.

Early morning or late evening is best when the sun is not directly above. Morning can be more advantageous because dew will often form on the web.

Use a contrasting background against the web. Notice in the image below the spider web is relatively small in the scene but it is a strong element with the grasses behind.

Choose the correct position not only for the background, but also to capture the full form of the web. For the scene below, I stood directly in front of the web - had I moved to the right or left, the web’s form would be lost. 

The web doesn’t have to be the main subject but can be included to add balance and interest, such as in the scene below.

Use a shallow depth of field with a wide aperture. This blurs the background while maintaining sharp focus on the web. Be mindful of distracting background elements and position yourself to remove them if possible.

Fill the frame with the web, especially when dew drops are present. This is when a macro lens and a tripod become advantageous.

Think abstract and get creative with composition, light and depth of field.

See it for what it is. For the wide-angle scene below, the webs add texture and contrast to the grasses, and are very much a part of the swamp environment.

I hope this inspires you to seek out spider webs. Who knows, that may inspire you to photograph a spider!

Here is a list of camera equipment used to photograph the spider web images.

Sony a77ii camera 

Sony a7riii camera

Sony a mount SAL70-400mm G lens

Tamron for Sony e mount 28-75mm f/2.8 Di RXD lens

Tamron for Sony e mount 17-28mm f/2.8 Di RXD lens

Sigma 180mm 1:3.5 APO macro DG lens

Induro CLT303L series 3 tripod

Oben BC-126 ballhead with arca type quick release plate

Jobu Black widow Gimbal head 

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