Hakalau - Big Island - Hawai'i, USA

The Spider’s Pearls: Tips for Shooting Tiny Things

This is a shot I took on the Big Island of Hawai’i. We were driving along the road, and we noticed a small road way down below us in a beautiful valley full. So, we pulled off the main drag and found the road we’d seen from above. I’m glad we did. We found ourselves in a gorgeous spot – waves pounding the rocky shore on one side, and lush rain forest on the other.

I noticed these lovely water droplets strung like pearls on a spider’s web. So, of course, I pulled out my macro lens and got down to business.

Capturing a shot like this is tough. Even with a macro lens, it was hard to get in close enough for the shot I wanted. And the slightest breeze is enough to keep the web dancing… so getting a sharp picture required patience.

I took several shots – hoping that I could get one that was sharp. Thanks to a few moments of stillness, the photo I took with a 1.6 second shutter speed (ISO 100) is cleaner than another I took with a 1/6 second shutter speed (ISO 400. 🙂 Sometimes, you just get lucky. 🙂

A few tips for shooting spider webs.

1. Look for a clean background. Here, I used an aperture of 7.1. That setting gave me just a bit of depth of field to work with, and left my background completely blurred out. I was VERY close for this shot… just at the focus limit of my lens, so my depth of field is incredibly narrow.

2. Look for patterns. Notice that I included only a few strands of the web in this shot. I looked at it carefully to find repeating patterns that were appealing to me. The Y-shaped strands give me the patterns I want, and the single strands break up the pattern just enough to keep things interesting… in my opinion, anyway. 🙂

3. Align the objects you want in focus on a flat plane – and keep that plane parallel to your camera’s sensor. As I mentioned before, I was working with a ridiculously narrow depth of field here, so anything outside my narrow plane of focus would be blurred. I adjusted my camera very carefully to be sure it was aligned as accurately as possible.


About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.


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