Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Small white feather caught in spiderweb

with 24 comments

Small White Feather Caught in Argiope aurantia Web 8244

A few posts ago you saw an October 19th photograph of a hover fly on frostweed flowers in Great Hills Park (in fact only about a hundred feet from the place where, a month later, I took the frostweed ice trick picture you saw last time). Another thing I found during the October jaunt was a small white feather caught in the web of an Argiope aurantia spider. I tried my hand at a bunch of photographs, but due to the low light and the breeze—even a little air movement causes a lot of feather movement—I had trouble getting the whole feather in focus at the same time. In this image fortune favored me and most all the parts came out sharp.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2014 at 5:29 AM

24 Responses

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  1. Possibly that is just what remains of a sumptuous spider feast.

    Steve Gingold

    November 21, 2014 at 5:43 AM

    • Argiope spiders are relatively large, but I don’t think they’re large enough to catch a bird, and my impression is that even a hummingbird would be too large to have gotten caught in this web.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 6:05 AM

      • I was just kidding. I am sure that, even though the spider silk is pretty strong, the web would not be able to hold a bird. When I was a kid in the Boy Scouts, at night the counselors would get together while the campers were sleeping and construct enormous rope webs over the different campgrounds. These things were huge and we were amazed that they were able to string them up into the trees as they did. Those might have been able to catch a pterodactyl.

        Steve Gingold

        November 21, 2014 at 6:10 AM

  2. I have the same problem with delicate subjects in the wind, which is almost constant by the lake. This is excellent.


    November 21, 2014 at 6:29 AM

    • Thanks, Ken. One advantage of digital over film (does anybody remember film?) is that there’s essentially no cost in taking a lot of pictures rather than a few. I took a bunch in hopes I’d get at least one with the main parts of the feather in focus. It’s easy enough to throw all the failures away.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 6:38 AM

  3. Lovely delicate capture…


    November 21, 2014 at 6:39 AM

    • I was happy to find I’d gotten a good picture of that delicacy, which I appreciated in person but wasn’t sure I could capture in a photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 6:41 AM

  4. It’s quite amazing how hoarfrost or ice crystal-like the feather’s structure is. People often talk about frost looking feathery, but this is the first time a feather has reminded me of frost. It’s a cool and cooling photo: a worthy substitute until real frost shows up.


    November 21, 2014 at 8:59 AM

    • You’ve made me wonder whether anyone has done a scientific study comparing the structures of feathers with those of frost. The term “convergent evolution” normally refers to living things that have developed similar structures, but perhaps the term could be extended to include an organism that mimics a non-living structure (assuming that feathers turn out to share structures with crystalline ice).

      You may remember that last winter I took advantage of freezing temperatures to get some rare (for me, for Austin) photographs of ice forming, and the location then was yet again this same part of Great Hills Park:


      If the cold weather so far this season is a harbinger for winter, I may get another chance at ice pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 9:15 AM

  5. Artfully arranged, and seems almost as if the spider had done it on purpose. Do you suppose the she was doing some home decorating?

    This is superb spider web decor and a brilliant capture, Steve. So glad the wind cooperated.


    November 21, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    • I’d say any decorating (ventilating?) was being done by the wind, Lynda, not the spider. Fortunately I managed to get at least one image that’s reasonably sharp, though most of my pictures of this feather weren’t usable.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      • “…any decorating (ventilating?) was being done by the wind…”

        I knew that, Steve. I was just trying to anthropomorphize her life to make it more fun. The feather, had she actually done the decor on her own, certainly makes it more festive. 😉


        November 22, 2014 at 3:38 AM

        • I guess I’ve just read too many children’s books in my teaching days. LOL!


          November 22, 2014 at 3:39 AM

  6. I love the intricate structure in your photo and the transition of colors.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    November 22, 2014 at 1:14 AM

  7. Beautiful capture. 😀

    Raewyn's Photos

    November 22, 2014 at 12:44 PM

  8. Hey looks like it turned out pretty well to me! I really appreciate how this captured feather looks more like an organism all on its own, not just part of one! It reminds me a little bit of those crazy crazy centipedes I see from time to time in the basement. Or one of those caterpillars that have a little feather like appendage.

    Good eye!


    December 1, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    • Right, it does seem to have a life of its own, and that’s one of the things that attracted me. I’m not familiar with the “crazy crazy centipedes” you have in your basement (or anywhere else), but I gather they writhe a lot. I have seen, at least in pictures, the feathery caterpillar appendage you mentioned.

      It’s sometimes hard for the camera to catch what the eye sees, but in this fame the two coincided.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 2, 2014 at 6:53 AM

      • Not that I hope to find one but now if I do I’m going to have to get a pic. Not fun to have crawling around but cool subject for a photo. 😉

        I know what you mean that the eye and the camera don’t always mesh, can be frustrating. Glad it happened for you.


        December 4, 2014 at 12:56 AM

        • If something’s crawling around that you don’t want to have crawling around, at least it can be gracious enough to let you get a picture of it, right?

          Steve Schwartzman

          December 4, 2014 at 7:02 AM

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