Spiders, in general, are one of the most misunderstood creatures in our world. When most people come across spiders, their first instinct is to run away, stomp on them and kill them, or scream at them. Even though these creatures come in different shapes, colors and sizes, people tend to be freaked out when they encounter spiders.
While there are undoubtedly many dangerous spiders out there, jumping spiders are gaining massive attention—one for their friendly demeanor and the other for their bright colors and antics. Given how friendly jumping spiders are, it’s no surprise to see many people add jumping spiders to their exotic pet collections.
Today’s post will cover everything you need to know about jumping spider macro-photography along with all of the important equipment you’ll need for jumping spider macro-photography.
Knowing the subject… your jumping friend
Before you set out to work, you’ll need to get up close and personal with your spider friend. By up close and personal, we mean knowing your jumping spider friend. And in case this is your first rodeo, let us quickly tell you that jumping spiders are an integral member of our ecosystem and the perfect allies every gardener or farmer would love to have in their garden.
Their friendly demeanor, bright and gorgeous colors, and brilliant spider antics make them excellent exotic pets. That said, jumping spiders are also great at controlling insect populations. And yes, they also control their own population by eating smaller species of jumping spiders or their mate in some special cases. And when they aren’t controlling insects, they also serve as natural food sources for birds and other mammals.
Read on for some tips on how you can photograph jumping spiders using a good macro lens and a DSLR or Mirrorless camera.
What you need for macro-photography spiders
Thinking about getting into macro-photography spiders but don’t know where to start? Well, today is your lucky day as we have put together a helpful guide for anyone who wants to get into micro lense jumping spider photography. From what gear to use to tips to shooting the perfect photos, today’s post will undoubtedly take your macro-photography skills from 0-100. Think we are bluffing? Well, wait until you see what we have planned out.
When it comes to what gear to use for micro-photography jumping spiders, many newbies get confused. But to answer all your questions about gear, we will recommend starting with a DSLR, an external speedlight, a decent micro-lens capable of at least 1:1 macro and you can increase that magnification by adding extention tubes or by using bellows, and yes, you’ll need some diffusion materials like paper or foam.
We took some time to speak to people who have been into macro-photography for some time, and they stated that you could even start spider photography with a Canon MT24EX Flash System, Canon 6D, or Canon MP-E 65mm lens.
Starting macro-photography for jumping spiders may look expensive, especially when you consider all of the required equipment you are going to need to buy, but guess what, you can start with a second-hand camera and a cheap flash. For around $500, you should get decent gear to kick off your spider photography journey.
How to find jumping spiders
One of the trickiest creatures to photograph are jumping spiders. Besides being small in size, jumping spiders are easily disturbed. And except, of course, they are curled up in their web (which isn’t the case with jumping spiders as they don’t build webs), there is every likelihood that you won’t find them sitting in one place too long.
While our spider friends like to hang out in garden sheds, knowing where to find them will make your journey a tad easy. In terms of their habitats, our furry friends can be spotted on garden fence panels and walls. And just so you know, most jumping spiders don’t build webs; instead, they patiently wait for their prey and take them out with their devastating jump.
Overall, you can find our spider friends in the most unlikely places. Over the years, we have spotted jumping spiders around long grasses, at the bottom of fence panels, and around rockeries. So if you’re looking for your subject, the first thing you need to do is figure out where you can spot one. Sometimes, you may even need to travel to get the perfect picture.
At the end of the day, always remember that our spider friends are versatile creatures. To this end, you may stumble on them almost anywhere.
How to take photos of small spiders
Once you locate your target, it is important you’re prepared. And by prepared, we mean having your camera set up and ready to roll. For newbies who have no idea what we are driving out, you can simply just have your macro lens configured at a full magnification of 1:1. Also, it’s important that you use manual focus. Once you have gotten this right, the next thing you want to do is move your camera back and forth. This will enable you to perfect the plane focus position.
Once all that is done, all you need to do is hit the trigger once you have that perfect focus in your viewfinder. It’s important that you keep firing the shots as long as your subject remains still. That said, remember that jumping spiders will often take off when you try to capture them and unless you want a noisy shot or blurry photo, you’ll need to have a flash in place. Besides adding more light to the scene and subject, the flashlight will help freeze your spider friend in motion.
When it comes to spider photography, you’ll need to think outside the box. To get decent pictures, you can play around with your flash power. Instead of having it on automatic, set it to manual and adjust accordingly. Also, you may need a bit of experiment to get this right. If you plan on using a 1:1 micro-lens, you can configure the settings as follow:
- Adjust your aperture to f/8 or f/9
- Having ISO calibrated to 320
- Configure your camera to a 1/125th second shutter speed.
Even though it is very true that the depth of field is pretty narrow at high magnification, adjusting your F stop past f8/f9 will only give you a less sharp and diffracted subject.
Before you go about shooting any jumping spider you come across; it’s always a smart move to take some test shots. You can start with the grasses or flowers around the area just to make sure you have a perfectly lit photo. Doing this will allow you to make some last-minute adjustments before setting out to capture a moving object.
To improve your chances, you can set out early in the morning to find spiders that are still warming up. Usually, during this period, jumping spiders are very slow and inactive. As per positioning, we always recommend going as low as possible. If you don’t mind lying on your belly, that should be fine. Since jumping spiders are quite skittish creatures, they tend to move too fast at the slightest distraction. So getting your positioning right will do you a lot of good.
If you can predict the spider’s path, get in front and allow the spider to walk into the frame, that will give you ample time to take the perfect shot.
Don’t lose focus
When you first get started with spider photography, there is every likelihood that you’ll not get things right. This is where many people get discouraged and feel like macro photography for spiders isn’t for them. Always remember that all of the beautiful pictures of jumping spiders you come across are just one out of many attempts.
Plus, you never get to see all of the blurry, noisy, and blown out photographs. Even though your hit ratio is maybe 1 in 10, that one perfect photo will make the whole experience worth it.
If you’re just starting out, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to start with garden spiders, especially those curled up in their web. These types of spiders don’t freak out as much as your typical jumping spiders when you shove the camera in front of them.
Experts macro tips for shooting jumping spiders
Exploring macro photography jumping spiders can open you up to a whole world of detail. And when you’re starting out, things can be a little murky. But not to worry, we have put together a list of expert macro tips that will take your spider photography skills to a whole new level.
You don’t need a lot of sophisticated gear
When you first get started with micro-photography jumping spiders, there is always this desire to get a lot of sophisticated gear. But from experience, we have come to know that you don’t need to spend an insane amount of money on equipment.
We have read stories of people who started with a DCR250, a Yongnuo flash, and a Raynox diopter. For those who have no idea, the diopter is a special snap-on adaptor that works almost like a filter
. This brilliant device increases magnification on a lense. If you are using a standard 50mm, a diopter should be able to increase magnification by a whopping two and half times. Trust us when we say it is a remarkable and low-cost way to get into the world of photography.
If you don’t have the money to put into a dedicated setup, you can try using an alternative like getting a hold of an old vintage lens and reverising it, so the rear element is facing the front, also known as the cheapest form of macro photography, also known as reverse lens macro.
Get familiar with your subject
When dealing with creatures like quirky jumping spiders, you’ll need to spend quite some time getting used to their behavior, especially if you’re looking to photograph them with any success. People who have had success in this area have reported spending hours to get the perfect shot. So when getting familiar with jumping spiders, you’ll need to exercise a great deal of patience.
Also, the perfect spider photographs are usually a product of trial and error. Plus, if you’re looking to capture a decent picture, you’ll need to make sure everything is set up so you can take the shot at any moment.
While jumpings spider species like the peacock jumping spiders are relatively common and can be spotted in almost all habitats, the challenging aspect is photographing our furry friends. Another difficult part is that our spider friends are not in color throughout the year. So if you’re looking to capture colorful spiders like the peacock species, you’ll need to scout them during specific months.
If you’re just getting started with macro photography with a particular emphasis on jumping spiders, experts always recommend finding details in larger subjects first. To this end, focusing your attention on flowers wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Always remain calm and collected
When photographing moving objects like jumping spiders, experts always recommend staying calm, collected, and relaxed. And after photographing for a while without any luck, it’s always a smart move to take a break. You can take some time to do something else.
Trust us when we say there are days when you’ll not be in the right headspace for it. So during such times, being patient will pay off.
And just like any other activity, you’ll need to have passion for what you’re doing. This is the recipe for success in this area. Let us remind you, some of the best macro jumping spider photos you have come across probably take hours to take. So if you don’t have the patience to wait for hours, you may never capture the perfect image you set out for.
Use tools such as a gimble/stand to rest your arms and practice your breathing when taking the shot.
Experiment with depth of field
It can be pretty challenging to get the depth of field spot-on at a wider f-stop when photographing subjects like speedy jumping spiders as it shouldnt come as a surprise, any increment in movement can be difficult espeically at a lower F stop.
When you decide to use a wide aperture of, let’s say, f/1.8-f/5, you may end up with a shallow depth of field which can look amazing, but using this option will only allow you to capture a small range of your subject. More so, the background and foreground will be blurred and is chellenging to get the whole whole spider in the shot without blurring the areas you want.
We love shooting wide open to get that amazing bokah but with macro you are going to have to set up the shot in a controlled enviroment to get those resolts.
Higher f-stops above f5 will give you the sharpness and clarity in the macroshots that you do take.
Let’s say, for instance, you want to capture all of the hairs on a jumping spider in tight focus; you’ll have to use a small aperture like f8. The cool thing about using a smaller aperture is that it gives a slower shutter speed, allowing for sufficient light into the sensor.
When starting out, there is nothing stopping you from experimenting with different depths of field. This way, you’ll stumble on the perfect one that works for you.
If you want to take your spider photography to the next level, you’ll need to spend sometime mastering focus stacking. What is focus stacking? focus stacking is an incredible technique anyone can use to get sharpness throughout their shot which can be archieved with programs like Adobe lightroom. And just so you know, sharpness is the most crucial technique in macro photography.
This brilliant technique involves combining multiple shots of the same subject and composition at different focusing, with the resulting images captured and varying depths of field between each photo.
Like every other technique, you’ll capture many terrible images when you start practicing focus stacking. Nevertheless, if you continue to practice, you’ll soon get better at the technique, so give yourself some time to master the skill.
When you first get started with focus stacking, you want to start from the front of the subject and proceed forwards.
Lighting is everything
One of the most significant challenges you’ll encounter when starting macro photography is lighting. As you step down on your apature your losing light and in effect your darkening the image which can cause noise in post processing. At the same time with a lower shutter speed it allows more light to be recorded on the sensor but can result in a blurry image.
Having a speedlight/fllash on the camera with the help of an X-pro flash transmitter with a single or multi flash setup can give you full control over the composition of light hitting the subject. With will help you avoid unwanted shadows and over exposing on certain areas of the composition.
Single flash is fine, but if you are looking for high burst shots then you will need a higher refresh rated camera flash which will require a dedicated battery pack which can start to get expensive. More so, when shooting tons of frames.
Experts always recommend letting your flash rest after a few hundred shots to ensure nothing goes wrong. But then again, you can easily get carried away, especially when you start getting those fantastic shots.
Regardless of the type of flash you settle for, it’s always important to diffuse your light if you want to get crisp detail and avoid blowouts on the high lights. For this, you can try experimenting with a pack of foam card which will bend over your flash. You can try bending the pack of foam in a concave shape. Try some different shapes out, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of images you’ll get.
Bring the outdoor in
Bringing your subject (jumping spiders) indoors will make your job pretty easy. And that’s because when shooting jumping spiders, your focus should be more on the subject than the background.
To make your job a little easier, you can shoot your subject inside a custom diorama. You can use something as simple as a twig piece and some leaves to imitate your subject’s outdoor environment. Once that is done, you can balance the entire set on a lazy Susan. Using a lazy Susan, you can easily move the whole diorama if the jumping spider moves.
Make the most of post-processing
If you plan on focus stacking, then you’ll need to get comfortable with using post-processing software. This will help you manage the tons of images you wish to combine. Thankfully, this shouldn’t be a problem as the adobe lightroom software most photographers use these days is more than equal to the task. And just so you know, Photoshop is great at managing focus stacking brilliantly. Plus, the software allows room for minor corrections in movements.
Start shooting macro images using dead bugs
Many would-be macro photographers who may have though “Macro is too hard” even before it started because of the difficulty and challenges that come with shooting an insect in motion. But if they are dead, they are motionless which makes it easier to take the shot and understand the settings with different light situations, f stops and shooting in different evviroments (outside or inside).
Trust us when we say you’ll spend hours trying to capture a beautiful image of a jumping spider, only to find out later that what you have after a full session to find imperfections like blurryness, blowouts and grainy images.
To make your job easy, we suggest scouting your garden or backyard for dead insects such as wasps or ants. Take the dead bug to your macro setup and fasten it to a leaf or other props you may have set up. Using these dead bugs, you can practice lighting, which will eventually improve your macro photographing skills.
The exciting thing about practicing with dead bugs is that it improves your knowledge of lighting as well as how to diffuse your flashes. Also, it will help you master your distance when it comes to closing in on your subject.
Keep pushing yourself
Getting better at macro photography jumping spiders will not happen overnight. Always remember that the best jumping spiders macro photographers took years to master the craft. Keep learning and pushing yourself to take sharper and sharper images.
While honing your macro photography skills, always think outside the box and be willing to try new things. Once you get comfortable with a particular technique, explore other strategies to see how they can improve the quality of pictures you’re photographing.
One way to improve your macro photography skill is to try wide-angle macro using lens like Venus Optics Laowa, a fully manual macro lens. Also, joining communities that share tips and tricks to improving your macro photography skills will do you a lot of good. Some of these communities share techniques that you may never get to learn if you go at it alone.
Shoot your subject against a smooth background
Most jumping spiders have an incredible amount of detail, whether it is the detailing on their fangs and jaws, the small hairs on the legs, or the complexity of their compound eyes.
When you first start macro photography, there is always the temptation to photograph jumping spiders on highly detailed rocks or moss. But you’ll soon realize that putting your subject on a detailed background will take away some of the detailing from the overall image.
When shooting jumping spiders, always remember that our furry friends are already quite detailed, so setting them up in a very complex background will prevent proper background selection. To make things easy for you, we suggest you find something like a smooth leaf. This type of background makes for better and more appealing images.
Best macro lenses for spider photography
Are you interested in kicking off your jumping spider macro photography journey but don’t know the type of lens to buy? Well, today is your lucky day as we have put together a list of some of the best macro lenses you can explore right away. While some of these macro lenses are affordable, some of them will cost you a fortune. That said, keep in mind that our list of best macro lenses for spider photography varies from cheap to expensive, so depending on your budget, we are sure you’ll fancy one of these macro lenses.
So without further ado, here is our list of best macro lenses; read through to find one that meets your budget and has all the specs you’re looking for in a macro lens.
Sony E 30mm f/3.5 macro
Sony E 30mm f/3.5 macro is one of the most brilliant macro lenses you’ll ever encounter. We love that this impeccable lens features brilliant specs that will take your macro photography skills to the next level. Using this powerful lens, you can capture a clear and crisp image of jumping spiders, making them look bigger, just as you expected.
This powerful lens from Sony can also be used for a photo walk on a typical day. We fancy this lens’s extra-low dispersion or ED glass, which helps to reduce chromatic aberration. Also, the lens delivers impeccable contrast in the entire image, regardless of the aperture you’re using. Here are some of the brilliant features of this extraordinary lens.
- Delivers a maximum aperture of f/3.5
- This lens is built for the famous Sony E MILCs
- Boats of a 1:1 magnification
- Features a 30mm focal length
- You can use this lens within a minimum working distance of 3.74
- Features powerful ED glass elements.
Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM
If you’re on the market for a 35mm Canon lens that will improve your macro photography skills, you’ll be hard-picked to find any lens better than the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM right now. This superb macro lens features an optical design and a powerful focal length that ensures you churn out high quality, impeccably detailed, and true-to-life images of your subject.
With this lens to the rescue, you can decide to shoot with half-light or full light, depending on what you’re out for. Besides all of the exciting features we have highlighted above, this impressive lens also boasts a large and bright f/2.8 aperture. This outstanding aperture allows for more light entry as well as a stunning depth of field effect. Here are some of the most insane features that make this Canon lens a must-have.
- This superb lens is designed exclusively for Canon APS-C cameras.
- With a 35mm focal length, this lens will ensure you capture the perfect images.
- This canon lens delivers ten lens elements along with one glass-molded aspherical lens
- 1:1 magnification
- Delivers impressive aperture up to f/2.8
- Maximum working distance of 5.12
Nikon AF 60mm f/2.8D
It isn’t every day you come across a powerful macro lens for jumping spider photography like the Nikon 40mm f/2.8D AF-S Micro. This powerful camera packs a punch and features tons of exciting specs that will take your macro photography skills to the next level.
Besides the excellent lightweight design that makes it easy to handle, this macro lens features a 60mm focal length on DX-format bodies. Even though the lens is missing an image stabilization feature, we love its Close-Range Correction system. This impressive feature allows users to capture detailed, clear, and premium-quality images of objects captured far away.
Also, the lens features an integrated coating that allows for more light to simmer through the camera’s sensor. Here are some of the top features of this incredible lens:
- This macro lens is designed to be used with Nikon FX/DX cameras
- This lens boasts a maximum aperture of f/2.8
- The lens has a 40mm focal length, which is equivalent to 60mm full-frame
- 1:1 magnification
- Seven groups or nine elements
- Features and integrated Silent Wave Motor AF system
Samyang 100mm f/2.8 Macro for fujifilm
When it comes to finding a decent macro lens for your Fujifilm camera, you’ll be hard-picked to find a macro camera that is better than the Samyang 100mm f/2.8 macro right now. Besides being great at its job, this sharp macro lens offers an impressive combo of excellent optics, a robust focal length, and an insanely low price. This makes it a must-have for people who don’t want to go overboard with their budget but still want a powerful macro lens that delivers exactly as promised.
For only $500, you’ll get this powerful macro lens that will deliver a 1:1 focusing, which is the set standard for macro photography. More so, the lens is excellent for all types of close-up work, including spider photography.
If you’re looking to capture unmoving objects and flowers, this macro with a 100mm focal length should do the job just fine. On the flip side, you may struggle a bit if you plan to shoot skittish subjects like jumping spiders.
And good enough, the macro’s f/2.8 maximum aperture is excellent for that soft-focus look, along with beautiful bokeh that most macro photographers always love to capture.
Let’s take a look at some of the features that make this macro lens for Fujifilm a must-have:
- It works great on almost all Fujifilm cameras.
- This macro lens comes with a maximum aperture of f/2.8.
- It has a focal length of 100mm
- 1:1 magnification
Panasonic Lumix G 30mm f/2.8 Macro
If you have always wanted to shoot close-up subjects like jumping spiders, you’ll love the remarkable performance of the Panasonic Lumix G Macro 30mm f/2.8 ASPH. This great macro lens from the stables of Panasonic is a robust 60mm equivalent lens.
Its superb macro potentials make it eligible for a minimum focusing distance of 4.1. It also delivers a 1:1 magnification, making it ideal for shooting life-size images of nearby subjects like jumping spiders. Let us also add that this macro features one spherical element, a unique feature that makes it great for controlling spherical aberrations and distortions. Also, its multi-layer coating feature is designed to reduce ghosting and lens flare.
Besides its robust optical performance, this macro lens features a powerful MEGA O.I.S system. This remarkable feature makes up for camera shakes and provides an opportunity for sharper hand-held shooting. With an exceptional AF motor and internal focusing design, this macro lens is poised to deliver smooth, fast, and near-silent focusing performance.
Here are some of the top features of this macro lens:
- Despite its 30mm portrait-length lens, this macro delivers a 60mm equivalent focal length, making it great for Micro Four Thirds cameras.
- This macro lens works seamlessly with Lumix cameras.
- Besides providing a life-size 1:1 magnification ratio, this macro lens also has a minimum focusing distance of 4.1, making it ideal for close-up subject photography.
- The macro lens has one aspherical element designed to reduce distortions and spherical aberrations. This delivers better rendering and better sharpness.
Leica MACRO-ELMAR-M 90mm f/4
When it comes to jumping spider macro photography, having a reliable macro camera that gets the job done is just what you need to take your career to the next level; and with the all amazing Leica MACRO-ELMAR- 90MM F/4, you have just the perfect lens to get the job done.
While you can use the Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 as a telephoto lens, you can also pair it with the Leica Macro Adapter for macro photography as it delivers magnification of up to 1:2. Regardless of what options best work for you, keep in mind that this macro lens is designed for incredibly high imaging performance.
Even without the adapter, this powerful lens performs superbly as a versatile telephoto lens. While the Leica Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4 macro lens is excellent for travel photography and detail capturing, you’ll love its performance when deployed for spider photography. Here are some of the top features of this macro lens:
- Works excellent with Leica cameras
- It has a magnification of 1:2, making it ideal for macro spider photography
- Its maximum aperture of f/4 ensures that enough light passes through the camera lens
- Besides been great for spider photography, this lens can also be used for travel photography
Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR
There are very few macro lenses on the market that deliver the kind of performance you’ll enjoy with the Pentax D FA 100mm f/2.8 WR. Besides being optimized for DSLRs, this macro lens is also pretty compatible with film SLR cameras.
What we love about this macro lens is the fact that it is constructed with aluminum housing along with six weather seals. This design makes it possible to shoot your subject in almost any environment without risking any internal damage to your lens.
Thanks to Pentax Super Protect’s multi-layer coating, you’re sure that your lens optical element is designed to lower surface reflection while delivering crisp and high-quality images. More so, the lens’s optical element is designed to produce crisp and sharp photos while removing any type of flare and ghosting.
With its Quick Shift focus system, users of this lens can easily switch from manual to AF modes and vice versa.
Designed to deliver life-size 1:1 magnification, this sharp macro lens is perfect for close-up jumping spider photography. You can also use it for other types of photography, including product and nature photography.
Thanks to its rounded diaphragm blade configuration, you can rest assured that your camera will produce stunning images.
- Delivers a robust 1:1 magnification
- Works with almost all types of Pentax cameras
- Boast of a staggering 100m focal length
- The macro lens comes with a maximum aperture of f/2.8.
Save money on lenses with vintage lenses
If you want to get more out of your macro experience without spending a small fortune on one lens then you can get the same result for only $100 with a vintage lens.
Cheap lenses like the Nikon Micro AIS 55mm f2.8 or the 105mm Micro are great bang for your buck and only cost $150 – $200 second hand on ebay.
They are comparably sharp to the newer lenses and have amazing micro-contrast which is needed for microphotography.
You can find any old vintage lens and use an adaptor to mount it on your APSC or full frame camera of your choice. Just look on Amazon and you will find hundreds of different adaptors that will help you adapt any vintage old lens to your camera even if its a sony, fuji, Nikon, Pentax, canon and etc.
What makes vintage lenses so cheap is the lack of autofocus, so if you are not concerned about autofocus then you can enjoy your time honing your skills in manual focusing which is needed for macro photography for jumping spiders.
Buying an Autofocus lens for $1000 or more only to switch it to manual focus to get the macro shots you want is counterproductive when you a plethora of amazing vintage lens that will give you compariable sharpness and image quality to modern lenses.
But you do you, Auto focus sounds good on paper, but it can be a hindrance when you are shooting small jumping spiders.
Frequently asked questions
What can photographers use macro lenses for?
Macro photography is one of the unique areas of photography that is generating a lot of buzz. To excel in this area, you’ll need a reliable macro lens. And for those who have no idea, macro lenses can be used to shoot jumping spiders, plants, insects, and other small subjects. Macro lenses are especially ideal if you’re looking to capture near subjects with robust detailing.
Is it possible to use macro lenses for normal photography?
Even though macro lens manufacturers build their lenses for close-up photography, many macro lenses on the market can also be used for general photography. The only difference is that when deployed for macro photography, this camera gets you impressive detailing that you’ll not get if you were to use a standard lens.
With a 105mm macro camera lens, you should be able to cover sports events and other related activities.
Can you deploy a macro lens as a telephoto lens?
Good camera lenses, especially those from recognized brands, make excellent telephoto lenses. That said, some camera lens manufacturers build unique telephoto macro lenses with added distance.
The difference between telephoto macro lenses and their shorter counterparts is that telephoto macro lenses have a shallow depth of field. With telephoto macro lenses, you can kiss goodbye to unwanted shadows casting on your subjects.