Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A colorfully ornate spider

with 42 comments

Neoscona oaxacensis Spotted Orbweaver Spider on Salvia greggii 7184

Today’s handsome subject is Neoscona oaxacensis, known as a spotted orbweaver. This spider had spun its web on some Salvia greggii plants, and the bit of background color in the lower right of the portrait came from a few of the flowers on those sages. The date was July 10th and the location was the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

If you’re interested in photography as a craft, you’ll find that points 1, 2, and especially 12 in About My Techniques are relevant to this photograph. Note how that last technique also enhanced the spider’s web by making it sparkly.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 6, 2014 at 6:05 AM

42 Responses

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  1. Quel magnifique effet Steve! elle ressemble un peu à notre Epeire (garden spider) en ce qui concerne les dessins. Quelle photo bravo!


    August 6, 2014 at 6:18 AM

    • Merci, Chantal. C’est juste l’effet de la lumière qui m’a tellement plu ici. Selon le dictionnaire que j’ai consulté, l’épeire est Aranea diademata, dont j’ai trouvé pas mal de photos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2014 at 8:00 AM

  2. This rates a 7 out of 10 on the weird coincidence scale (I’ll be you didn’t know there was such a thing) … as I happen to be working on a post which features a spider’s web, front-and-center. Beautiful shot. To my eye, spider photos are usually quite monochromatic and, therefore, without artistic appeal. You have, in what has become the expected fashion, managed to include nice depth and color, clarity, and lighting which have had the combined effect of transforming what would have otherwise been a fairly mundane shot into a beautiful one indeed. ✔+

    Pairodox Farm

    August 6, 2014 at 6:42 AM

    • I think that’s the first ✔+ I’ve ever been accorded here, so thanks. And no, I didn’t know about the W.C.S., but it seems worthy to join those of Beaufort and Richter for wind and earthquake, respectively, because coincidences strike us—note the strong verb—as a force of nature too. We’ll look forward to seeing how you weave your spider into your post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2014 at 8:06 AM

  3. I wonder if the spider sees its web all sparkly like that. The spider and its shiny web reminded me of this amazing spider silk project http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/golden-spider-silk/ , using golden orb spiders.


    August 6, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    • What a project the one by Peers and Godley was. With over a million spiders involved, I can see why it lasted three years. We visited the V & A in around 1997, but this wasn’t there then. I don’t recall ever seeing golden spider silk till now.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2014 at 8:17 AM

      • An extraordinary project. At least the spiders didn’t have to die to produce the silk, so that made me feel better about the whole silking/milking process.


        August 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM

  4. Great shot…..he looks as if he is carrying the World on his back!


    August 6, 2014 at 6:48 AM

  5. A miracle we’d never see without your gift. Thank you!

    Margie Roe

    August 6, 2014 at 7:43 AM

  6. That’s a gorgeous spider. I especially like the pattern on its abdomen, with its vaguely art nouveau-ish design. The web is what amazed me, though. It’s not just sparkly, it’s colorfully sparkly. In places, especially the upper right, the web looks like the bars of a color spectrum. I wonder if it’s possible that the web is functioning like a prism, or otherwise turning the light into colors?


    August 6, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    • Quite right you are: parts of the silk are refracting the light (which is what a prism does) and breaking it into some of its component colors. How much of that the spider appreciates, if any, I don’t think we have any way to know. It also occurs to me that while people (minus the many arachnophobes) get to appreciate the designs on its abdomen, the spider, for all its eyes, can’t even see them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2014 at 9:43 AM

  7. I love seeing intricate details in nature and your photos manage to always show them – this spider is a beauty!


    August 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM

  8. WOW! That is an award winning photo!!!!!!!!

    Kathy Comer

    August 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

  9. A beautiful spider, and your photo is exquisite!


    August 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    • Thanks, Debi. I took other pictures of this spider, often in slightly varied positions, because the web was blowing a bit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      • Well, it’s beautiful, this photo. And the spider. It’s nice to see a spectacular photograph of an incredible spider! Thanks so much for sharing him/her with us!


        August 6, 2014 at 8:01 PM

  10. That is one seriously decked out spidey! You are right to think that I would love it. Unfortunately, all you have is a like button, so it’ll have to do. One of your commenters mentioned the depth and variety in this image; I must say I concur. Well done there, Steve, as you have an award-winner indeed.


    August 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    • Thanks for confirming what I thought your reaction would be, Shannon. The “Like” button has only two states, clicked and not clicked, but your words are an excellent way to add subtlety to that binary choice.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2014 at 2:37 PM

  11. He’s awesome and I just love the rainbow bokeh on the web! Great shot Steve 🙂

  12. Love the prismatic effects as well as the great and colorful detail on that abdomen. Very cool pattern.

    Steve Gingold

    August 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    • I’ll agree that the two different kinds of colorful patterns, one symmetric and the other asymmetric, worked well together here. Your use of the word prismatic reminds me that just the other day I saw a photograph of the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, a place I’d like to go back to.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 6, 2014 at 4:42 PM

      • I’d like to just plain go there, so I could then wish to go back. One of these days we may start to spread our tourist dollars around the U.S..

        Steve Gingold

        August 6, 2014 at 4:48 PM

        • I like the way you put that, Steve. I want to go back with my current sensibilites and camera equipment, because the last (and only previous) visit was some 16 years ago.

          Do start spreading your tourist dollars around while they’re still worth something.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 6, 2014 at 5:07 PM

  13. Wow! How beautiful!


    August 6, 2014 at 8:57 PM

  14. wow


    August 6, 2014 at 11:58 PM

  15. Very nice


    August 7, 2014 at 3:04 AM

  16. Magnificent, brilliant shot, love the coloration of the spider! Amazing and intricate details on the specimen!


    August 7, 2014 at 5:31 AM

    • The translucent light enhanced the coloration in the legs, and fortunately there was also enough incident light to bring out the patterns on the abdomen.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 7, 2014 at 7:59 AM

  17. Stunning!


    August 7, 2014 at 11:12 AM

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