Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dewdrop-bedecked spiderweb

with 24 comments

Raindrops on roses, dewdrops on spiderwebs. Clichés though they be, what veteran photographer hasn’t had a crack at one or both? On the misty morning of December 14th at Brushy Creek Park in the town of Cedar Park I spied a dewdrop-bedecked spiderweb in an inaccessible place and partly blocked by branches from most vantage points. I tried out different positions and did what I could with my telephoto lens zoomed to its maximum 400mm focal length.


𝕾          𝕾          𝕾


Back on August 28th last year I wrote a commentary called “FOLLOW THE SCIENCE!”. I reported on a large Israeli study showing that the protection against Covid-19 afforded by so-called natural immunity (i.e from having caught the disease and recovered) was stronger than the protection provided by getting two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech anti-Covid vaccine. I also pointed out that our government was ignoring the strong result of that study by refusing to recognize natural immunity as sufficient to allow people access to places that require proof of vaccination.

Now here we are five months later and jurisdictions in the United States are still refusing to recognize natural immunity as at least equal to vaccination. In other words, they’re still refusing to follow the science. Let’s hope that’s finally about to change. On January 19th Reuters ran an article headlined “Prior COVID infection more protective than vaccination during Delta surge -U.S. study.” Here’s the article’s first paragraph: “People who had previously been infected with COVID-19 were better protected against the Delta variant than those who were vaccinated alone, suggesting that natural immunity was a more potent shield than vaccines against that variant, California and New York health officials reported on Wednesday.” Now, it’s true that studies have shown that people with natural immunity who’ve also gotten vaccinated have the best protection of all, but there’s no reason for an institution or jurisdiction that accepts proof of Covid-19 vaccination not to also accept proof of natural immunity. That’s what the science requires.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 21, 2022 at 4:32 AM

24 Responses

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  1. A striking shot. The mass of random-looking strands behind the web makes it look like the spider was practicing, maybe getting the hang of using its web shooter before it got itself organized and constructed the main web.

    Robert Parker

    January 21, 2022 at 5:45 AM

    • Where I could stand wouldn’t normally be considered within striking distance of a striking shot, yet not all hope was shot and I got the hang of getting the shot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2022 at 6:50 AM

  2. Wow, the web is stunning against the dark background! The silvery strands almost look metallic, like a thin wire.

    Ann Mackay

    January 21, 2022 at 9:10 AM

    • I think most of the dewdropped spiderwebs we see pictures of are flat and photographed parallel to the plane of the web. What intrigued me in the view from this angle is the way the web forms a surface whose upper portion curves around and largely blocks the portion behind it. We do live in a three-dimensional world, after all.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 21, 2022 at 9:48 AM

  3. Very nice 👌


    January 22, 2022 at 4:15 AM

  4. Truly a piece of art! Did you use the flash to create the black background?

    Peter Klopp

    January 22, 2022 at 9:57 AM

    • As much as I’ve recently shown pictures whose dark backgrounds came from using flash on a close subject, this wasn’t one of those times. Even if I’d wanted to use flash, I was far enough from the spiderweb that flash would have had practically no effect. The background came out more dark than not anyhow, and in processing the image I managed to pull down the background tones to black.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 22, 2022 at 10:05 AM

      • Thanks for the explanation, Steve! It is amazing how much one can do to enhance a photo through processing.

        Peter Klopp

        January 24, 2022 at 9:01 AM

        • It sure is. Computers make a photographer’s processing so much easier and more expansive than what we could do in the days of film and chemicals.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 24, 2022 at 10:14 AM

  5. Your comment to Ann referenced what I picked up on: the photographically unusual curve of the web. Whether horizontal or vertical, most web photos are ‘flat.’ As a way of showing the patterns of a web, that works, but in nature, curve are much more common because of spider movement, wind, and so on. I really like this view.


    January 22, 2022 at 10:16 AM

    • From a different position I took some more-conventional pictures in which most of the web aligned with the camera’s sensor and therefore came out looking flat. When it came time to prepare this post, I had trouble deciding which view to post. I could’ve shown both but went with the less-conventional take.

      As intricate as curves often are in two dimensions, moving into three dimensions greatly expands the possibilities for curves and surfaces. Mathematicians have spent centuries studying them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 22, 2022 at 10:28 AM

  6. Striking photo of a spider web!

    Alessandra Chaves

    January 23, 2022 at 8:02 AM

  7. A magnificent creation by both the photographer and the spider.


    January 28, 2022 at 6:32 AM

    • I think the former had to work harder at his creation than the latter, whose craft came instinctively.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2022 at 6:47 AM

  8. ‘Follow the science’ has become quite a catch phrase. An expression which is no longer the catch phrase it used to be is ” Such and such (meterology, cooking or whatever) is not an exact science.” In fact I haven’t heard that phrase, “not an exact science” in a long time. Our debates about science seem to be polarized into science and not science, rather than exact science and inexact science, or social science, applied science, natural science etc, etc.


    January 28, 2022 at 7:39 AM

    • Of course scientists’ conclusions change as new evidence comes to light. Early telescopes let Galileo see things no human being had ever been able to see before; that new evidence changed the way we understand our solar system—including even the fact that we refer to it as the solar system and not the earth system.

      Because science is inescapably a human endeavor, it unfortunately remains at the mercy of human frailties. One of those is putting ideology before facts and failing to “follow the science.” (Yes, that phrase has been overused.) On television we recently saw a political operative—I would say a professional liar—who kept insisting that we’re in a “pandemic of the unvaccinated, even though we now know that many people who have been fully vaccinated and even boosted are coming down with cases of Omicron, a few of them more than once. Coincidentally when Eve and I took a walk in our neighborhood two days ago we ran into a neighbor who is more on the political left than we are. One of the first things she said, completely unbidden, was “Why can’t they just admit that vaccinated people are getting sick with Omicron?”

      And as you point out, some “sciences” are inherently more exact than others. The “social sciences” are very different from chemistry and physics. I’m sorry to say that the “social” in that term often far outweighs the “science.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2022 at 8:07 AM

      • Your conversation with your neighbor reminds me about another science which is popular today; citizen science. Not that she was indulging in it. Oh then there is popular science. Whilst thinking about science, I thought to check on someone I hadn’t thought about in a long while; Karl Popper. During his time in Christchurch he wrote his second major work, The open society and its enemies. I haven’t read it, nor any of Popper’s work but I have listened to some of his words, via YouTube. I think I would have enjoyed my philosophy lectures much more if Popper had been one of my lecturers. https://teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/4p18/popper-karl-raimund


        January 28, 2022 at 3:14 PM

        • I’d heard of Karl Popper but didn’t know anything about his philosophical views, and certainly not that he taught in Christchurch. If he’d been younger or you older you might have had more enjoyable philosophy lectures in school. Wikipedia echoes the Te Ara article:

          “Popper is known for his rejection of the classical inductivist views on the scientific method in favour of empirical falsification. According to Popper, a theory in the empirical sciences can never be proven, but it can be falsified, meaning that it can (and should) be scrutinised with decisive experiments. Popper was opposed to the classical justificationist account of knowledge, which he replaced with critical rationalism, namely ‘the first non-justificational philosophy of criticism in the history of philosophy'”.

          As Te Ara says: “On Popper’s account, science proceeds by formulating hypotheses. The criterion of a scientific hypothesis is that it generates predictions that are capable of being falsified by reference to empirical data. These hypotheses can never be conclusively proved true, so that scientific knowledge is necessarily provisional.”

          Isn’t it true, though, that while scientists do formulate hypotheses, the hypotheses themselves often arise from observations? In the decades when I taught math, I occasionally noticed what seemed to be a pattern. The would-be pattern led me to make a tentative guess about what was going on, then do the research to find out whether what I was seeing was merely coincidental or whether the pattern was valid.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 28, 2022 at 3:50 PM

          • Thank goodness for the observant mind (or the keen observer), which is you, who brings your observation skills to photography. What an awkward sentence! Your observations = great photos for us to enjoy.


            January 28, 2022 at 9:22 PM

            • Thanks. I’ve occasionally even snuck in a few math patterns here, though I restrain myself. Many more people are interested in nature photographs.

              Steve Schwartzman

              January 28, 2022 at 10:02 PM

  9. Hey Steve … fabulous shot! I bet you smiled when you saw this …


    January 31, 2022 at 9:50 PM

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