Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Downy gaura seed stalk loop

with 17 comments

Downy Gaura Seed Stalk Looped by a Spider 2317

Do you remember the downy gaura (Gaura parviflora or Oenothera curtiflora) you saw with a soft cloud behind it the other day? (Sure you do.) Well here’s a seed stalk of that species that a spider had bent into a loop. When I took this picture on August 8th near where Old Spicewood Springs Rd. crosses Bull Creek I didn’t see the spider, but its silk says it had been there, and stalks of downy gaura don’t form loops by themselves.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


I’m out of town for a while. Of course you’re welcome to leave comments, but please understand if it takes me longer than usual to respond.

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 29, 2014 at 5:22 AM

17 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This must be an example of Spidey strength. It is amazing the power they have and the able usage of their silken threads. Nice use of sidelight with a good naturally dark background.

    Steve Gingold

    September 29, 2014 at 5:32 AM

    • I’ve read that spider silk is stronger by weight than steel, but what I haven’t yet read is an explanation of why a spider would want to use that strong bonding material to bend a seed stalk like this one into a loop. If the spider filled the interior of the loop with a web I could understand the advantage, but the loops of this type that I’ve seen have always remained unfilled.

      Thanks for pointing out the sidelight and the naturally dark background that your photographer’s eye picked up.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2014 at 7:54 AM

  2. Scary !!! terrific shot …


    September 29, 2014 at 7:07 AM

    • Scary perhaps, but I didn’t get stung on the wrist by a wasp the way you did as a child.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2014 at 7:59 AM

      • Ha Ha 😀 The insatiable desire to gain knowledge(err.. colorful stories :P) led me to it… I am glad you read it …Thanks a million…


        September 29, 2014 at 9:05 AM

  3. A circle of nature’s grace…


    September 29, 2014 at 7:30 AM

  4. Botanizing makes detectives of us all, doesn’t it? I had lunch with two of my botanist friends this weekend, and we were gleefully discussing how the world seems designed just for our enjoyment. I wonder why the spider would do this?
    It is cool how you’ve shot this, so the light just picks out the tell-tale thread.


    September 29, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    • Just call me Sherlock, Melissa. Your discussion topic of how the world seems designed just for our enjoyment reminds me of Voltaire’s Candide.

      This picture, with its light from the side, is different from many of mine, but I like the effect. Usually I go for bright, but sometimes dark is good.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      • Candide has popped in a couple of times lately. Maybe I need to read it again.

        Steve Gingold

        September 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM

        • Yes, I thought about this being the second recent reference to Candide. I read it in high school, and I remember asking my Latin teacher (who was from Italy) about an Italian sentence Voltaire inserted in the middle of all the French. Candide is a pretty cynical look at life, so be prepared for a heavy dose of cynicism if you reread it. If I can go off on a tangent, I’ll add that Leonard Bernstein’s opera version has some great arias in it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 29, 2014 at 10:46 PM

  5. The photo’s really attractive. I didn’t know the term “sidelight” until I read it here, but it certainly did make this a more striking image.

    As for the silk, I have a hypothesis. From what I can tell, the first evidence of silk is on the left side, near the top. Spiders often land in my varnish, or on me, or on boat rigging, by traveling on their own silk, “flying” through the air. It may be that a spider landed on the plant, spun its way to the top and then, with nowhere to go, made another jump to the middle of the stalk and cinched things up.


    September 29, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    • Your hypothesis is the best one I’ve heard—and the only one!

      The term sidelight (or side light) seems to follow naturally from backlight. Most of my subjects are lit from the front, and a much smaller number from the back, but for some reason I’ve rarely made use of side lighting. I need to be more alert to its possibilities.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 29, 2014 at 10:59 PM

  6. Gorgeous, I really love how you used the lighting in this photo.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 29, 2014 at 8:24 AM

  7. […] spider that’s responsible—and you deserve a juicy spider after the non-spider picture of downy gaura looped by a spider—click the icon […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: