Photographing Spider Webs, 3

The artistic side of a web

Orbs of Gold

Shooting from the side of a web into the rising sun

The two previous posts in this 3-part series reviewed spider web photography basics.

Strange, isn’t it? The two previous posts harped obsessively about the absolute need to keep the camera sensor parallel to the plane of the web to achieve edge to edge tack sharpness. The essence of today’s technique isn’t to just bend that “rule” slightly, but to break it to hell and back. Another illustration of knowing “rules” before trying to break them.


Technical – Nikon D300, Nikon 75-300 @ 200mm , 1/800 sec, f/5.6, EV=-1.33, ISO200, WB=Cloudy, spot metering, aperture priority, RAW capture, tripod, circular polarizer, manual focus

  • Camera to the side of the web
  • Fast shutter speed
  • Lens wide open & at minimum focal distance to give-
  1. A very shallow DOF to isolate a narrow portion of the web
  2. Round out-of-focus-elements and not polygons which you’d see when stopped down
  • Using a zoom allows easier framing without the risk of moving the camera/tripod and breaking the web
  • Exposure is tricky shooting into the low rising sun; I spot metered on the brightest part of the web and adjusted from there (-1.33 EV) using the histogram
  • You will never get the image you want if you use auto-focus
  • Lots to think about between exposure and focus and your time frame is fleeting as the sun isn’t going to stay there all day


Visual design elements – shapes, lines, texture & tones – this image has them all

Narrow in-focus oblique line immediately captures the eye

Rhythmic repetition of sweeping curved & straight lines – and orbs – fill the frame

Everything flows obliquely into the lower right corner


If done right then almost no post-processing should be required; a little tonal contrast adjustment was used to further accentuate the in focus strand.


This technique opens the door to the opportunity to make beautiful abstract images. Here are some examples. Run your mouse over the slideshow to bring up controls. If you click on the stop (square) control you can then step through the eleven examples one at a time (or not ;-)).

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So – there you have it. Everything worth knowing about making web images in three parts starting here.


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