Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Spider shadows

with 37 comments

Tiny Spider on Rain-Lily 4531

I don’t think I’ve ever recorded such a vivid and elongated spider shadow as I did on this rain-lily, Cooperia pedunculata, that I photographed on August 19 near the eastern end of Balcones Woods Dr. You may find me strangely unobservant, but I was so intent on getting the spider in focus that I don’t believe I noticed its shadow at the time.

If you’d like a closer look at the spider and its happily-discovered-later shadow, click the excerpt below.

Tiny Spider on Rain-Lily 4531 Detail

If you’re interested in the craft of photography, you’ll find that point 24 in About My Techniques applies to the larger image.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2016 at 4:59 AM

37 Responses

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  1. That shadow is a wonderful bonus, though I must admit that your shot of the spider itself is pretty awesome by itself. I am always amazed when I review my images to find little treasures to which I was completely oblivious when I was taking the shots. Do you know what kind of spider that is? I don’t think that I have ever seen one quite like that.

    Mike Powell

    September 13, 2016 at 5:08 AM

    • Thanks, Mike. There’s nothing like starting the day with a dose of awesome. As you say has happened to you, too, part of the fun of photography is discovering those little after-the-fact treasures we were unaware of at the time we took our pictures.

      As for what kind of spider it is, I’m afraid I don’t know. If I find out, I’ll update the post.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2016 at 7:38 AM

  2. Beyond a shadow of a doubt that’s a mighty shadow within a beautiful photo.


    September 13, 2016 at 5:47 AM

    • Well said, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Have you see the Alfred Hitchcock movie of that name?


      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2016 at 7:59 AM

      • No. I think I have only seen one Hitchcock and it frightened me (as a youngster) so I steered clear of his other movies.


        September 13, 2016 at 6:53 PM

        • “Shadow of a Doubt” is an excellent movie. It seems that as a non-youngster you would no longer be frightened and would appreciate it.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 13, 2016 at 9:16 PM

          • Perhaps you are right. I will have a peek at it on YouTube.


            September 13, 2016 at 9:45 PM

            • I’m surprised that it’s on YouTube. I’d have thought the movie’s copyright is still in effect.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 13, 2016 at 9:49 PM

              • Of course it may be on YouTube illegally.


                September 13, 2016 at 11:37 PM

                • I thought of that too. This movie on YouTube has gotten over 40,000 views, so it’s presumably been up long enough for the copyright holder to find out and ask for it to be taken down. Perhaps it’s not still in copyright. Occasionally copyright owners have made mistakes and forgotten to renew in time (in the old days, when U.S. copyrights expired after 28 years). Probably the best known example of that is “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 14, 2016 at 8:24 AM

                • I don’t know how authoritative this page is but it suggests the film is still under copyright. http://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Copyright_status_of_Hitchcock_films It also shows how confusing copyright issues are!


                  September 15, 2016 at 12:10 AM

                • The person or people who put that article together seem to have spent plenty of time on it, but was the research accurate? I noticed that amended is misspelled ammended.

                  I suppose I could get in touch with Universal Studios to see if it does currently hold the copyright to “Shadow of a Doubt.” Then there wouldn’t be a shadow of a doubt.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 15, 2016 at 7:00 AM

                • There would be no doubt at all. And there is no doubt the the article was well-intended but there is doubt about the accuracy.


                  September 15, 2016 at 7:07 AM

  3. With no apologies whatsoever to William Blake:

    Spider, spider, spinning light
    In the petals’ sweet delight;
    Whose well-practiced hand and eye
    Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

    Some people might find the spider and its symmetry somewhat fearful, but you framed it perfectly. Even the shadows on the petals are symmetrical. This is one of my all-time favorites.


    September 13, 2016 at 6:00 AM

    • That’s saying a lot if a new picture can enter the group of your all-time favorites.

      I appreciate your framing the comment along the lines of those words from Blake. Only the would-be prey of the spider need be fearful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2016 at 8:10 AM

  4. Your comment about not noticing the shadow is relevant to “our” not noticing. The unseen laughs at us as we merrily see what we do. When the same happens to me, I realize how much goes unseen. It helps to open me for the next time. Regardless, striking shadow capture.


    September 13, 2016 at 7:13 AM

    • That’s a good way to put it, Sally: “the unseen laughs at us.” Because such after-the-fact discoveries keep happening in my photography, I’ve long assumed that I’ve failed to notice plenty of other things out there in the world that I would have photographed if only I’d seen them. You may have heard me mention the times when I’ve gone out and back along the same trail, only to discover while returning that on the way out I’d walked right past some prominent and photo-worthy thing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2016 at 8:17 AM

  5. Just delightful!


    September 13, 2016 at 8:13 AM

  6. Oh my goodness, what a shot!


    September 13, 2016 at 8:35 AM

  7. Lovely work, Steve. It looks a lot like a crab spider to me, and that would fit with its being alone on a flower. I don’t recognize it as one I’ve seen before though, and in the blowup it looks like the eyes may be larger than those on most crab spiders I’ve had the chance to study up close. A quick search, though, seems to point toward a possibility if its being a male Misumena vatia: http://bugguide.net/node/view/411106.


    September 13, 2016 at 12:27 PM

    • Thanks for your detective work. I’m not good at telling one crab spider from another. You may be right that the one on the the rain-lily is in the genus Misumena. I’ve always billed myself as a much better photographer than I could ever be a biologist, so I’m glad you appreciate this photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2016 at 5:12 PM

  8. Exquisite and most charming!


    September 13, 2016 at 1:37 PM

  9. I love the granular appearance of lily petals when viewed this close. Are all lilies this texture up close? I wonder…

    Lovely work with that spider, Steve!


    September 14, 2016 at 10:41 AM

    • I’m afraid the only lilies I know anything about are the rain lilies and copper lilies that grow in Austin, and in them I’ve often noticed the granularity you mentioned. That’s one of the reasons I’ve taken so many close-ups of rain lilies over the years that I’ve been doing native plant photography. Only occasionally have I managed to photograph a spider on a rain lily, and never before one with a prominent shadow. Glad you like the combination, Lynda.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 14, 2016 at 12:51 PM

  10. It is a great photo Steve .. And I really love that list of yours too 😃


    September 14, 2016 at 9:27 PM

  11. Ah, your signature gorgeous blue background but this time with a fluffy cottonwool base. You don’t need me to tell me this is a lovely shot, but I will. Lovely shot! 🙂 Nice work with the accidental shadows. You did well to get such clear details of the white spider against a white flower background. The depth of field is great.


    September 17, 2016 at 1:32 AM

    • And you may not need me to say thanks again, but I will. Thanks again.

      I’m fond of this recent success.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 17, 2016 at 10:30 AM

  12. That is a fantastic photo!
    I’m sorry I haven’t been around here for a while:
    I’m in the middle of a process of selling house – and buying a flat – and I’m SO busy with all the things that must be done when you have lived somewhere for many years and you suddenly have to pack, clean up, throw out and move. And at the same time putting the new housing in order and prepare for arranging this. So I did not drop by your blog for a long time – but I soon hope I will have time to follow you more again!


    September 20, 2016 at 6:15 PM

    • I appreciate your stopping by in the midst of all that activity. I hope your travails will soon be over.

      In 2004 we bought our current house, moved everything to it, and then sold our old house. That used up months and months, so I took few photographs in 2004. I’ve been making up for it ever since.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2016 at 10:11 PM

  13. This is such an elegant image. You’re right, the shadow is pretty great. It adds delicate detail to the overall image.


    October 6, 2016 at 12:16 PM

    • “Elegant” is an apt word. The long shadow made this a special image for me, too, and unlike any previous one. Hooray for novelty.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2016 at 1:41 PM

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