Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Three orbs, three colors

with 24 comments

One orb, the largest of the three, is yellow; it belongs to a spider. The other two orbs, equal in size to each other but smaller than that of the spider, are azure; they’re the characteristically bulging eyes on opposite sides of a damselfly’s head. The third color is red, the red of a turk’s cap flower, Malvaviscus arboreus, whose out-of-focus presence in the background frames the drama of the yellow and blue orbs, in which the damselfly has succumbed to the spider. Though these predatory scenes are common in nature, some of you understandably find them unpleasant, so I’ve shrunk the picture to the icon in the next line. Click it if you’d like to see the dramatic details, pass it by if you’d prefer not to.

I took this picture on June 16 at Hornsby Bend in southeast Austin.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 30, 2012 at 5:59 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Amazing! That is one of the most disgustingly cool photos I have ever seen :).


    July 30, 2012 at 6:02 AM

  2. Yes, simply amazing photography. Can’t say it didn’t bother me, but it’s a natural event…. and good to be documented… You’ve certainly turned it all into a work of art.


    July 30, 2012 at 6:19 AM

    • I was pleased to be able to find an angle that put the red of the turk’s cap behind the orbs of the spider and the damselfly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2012 at 8:06 AM

  3. I guess I’m not very sensitive about these kinds of things. You did an amazing job composing this shot (helped, of course, by the amazing colors of the subjects). And I didn’t even know spiders preyed on damselflies. Clearly she is well beyond the “damsel in distress” phase.

    Mike Powell

    July 30, 2012 at 6:24 AM

    • Thanks, Mike. Though the scene was grisly, I was fascinated, not only by the drama but by the areas of bright color. And yes, as you phrased it so well, this damsel was well beyond feeling any distress.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2012 at 1:13 PM

  4. It’s a beautiful photo (in spite of the subject matter). Unbelievable detail.


    July 30, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    • I’m glad you could see the appeal even in such a scene, Ken. There can be beauty in the ghastly.

      As so often, I’ll credit my Canon 100mm macro lens for its resolving power.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2012 at 8:07 AM

  5. What’s most amazing is that scenes like this are being played out around us every day, unobserved and unnoted. I think that’s why I so often am reminded of Annie Dillard’s writing because of your photography. You both have the ability to see what’s going on out there and, better yet, make us see it, too.


    July 30, 2012 at 7:11 AM

    • Thanks, Linda. Yes, scenes like this are common, even if we seldom see them. Think how often we see spiders, and then add the fact that every one of those spiders has to eat periodically.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2012 at 8:10 AM

  6. Was für ein fantastisches Foto!!


    July 30, 2012 at 8:36 AM

  7. You know that means it’s good right? LOL. Hey Steve, if you have a chance I need your expertise on my blog today.


    July 30, 2012 at 8:48 AM

  8. Steve, there is so much going on in this photo! I looked a good while trying to make sense of each element adding to the whole. The spider alone is amazing, but it’s the color combination that makes it stunning. ~ Lynda


    July 30, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    • At first it was the drama itself that caught my attention. Then I got intrigued by the blue and yellow. Finally I saw the possibility of a position that added red to the mix, and I took a bunch of pictures to get one with the red in it that I liked.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2012 at 1:45 PM

  9. Beautiful shot! This has been somewhat of a spider week for me — several posts on them from blogs I follow. You may enjoy this one from Bug Girl, an entomologist…made me smile. (http://wp.me/p35aO-2za)


    July 30, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    • Thanks for the link to that comic (in both senses) article by Bug Girl. I’d read some of her other posts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 30, 2012 at 10:15 PM

  10. The colors are gorgeous. There is actually a fourth orb here. The spider is an orbweaver, but I can’t tell which kind. The web itself is an orbweb, though it appears to have been wrecked a bit by the capture.

    • Thanks, Spider Joe. I was hoping you’d leave a comment. Your observation about a fourth orb is a suitable follow-up to the otherwise unrelated four-post miniseries that went before. The colors here set this picture apart from all previous spider photographs I’ve made.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2012 at 1:01 AM

  11. […] the last post, with its photograph of a spider devouring a damselfly, here’s a milder picture. Yes, there’s still a spider, but only a tiny one, no more […]

  12. Another jaw-dropper, Steve. The colors are magnificent. Awesome macro!

    Sheila T Illustrated

    July 31, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    • I’m pleased that you appreciate that, Sheila. The colors seemed special to me, too, especially with the addition of the red in the background.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 31, 2012 at 10:28 PM

  13. […] had a beautiful artistic image of a damselfly caught in a spider’s web entitled “Three Orbs, Three Colors.”  Daniel Proud had a wonderfully informative Four part series on Harvestmen (Daddy […]

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