Earlier, I shared the story of an orb weaver who spun a web at our house. It was kind enough to build on our porch in a way that I could easily get to both sides without disturbing it’s creation. Today, I want to follow up with how I went about adding color to the web.
- Camera: Canon EOS 70D
- Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L
- Lighting: a pair of speedlights (in my case, Godox V860IIC )
Producing these images is relatively straight forward once you have a willing subject. It starts by understanding your camera well enough to get the right depth of field for what you wish to capture. I took advantage of this lenses’ zoom feature to keep me out of the spider’s way and shot at a focal length of
70mm. It was after dark, so I was working only with porch lights behind the web. This made focusing quite
difficult, so I had someone aim a flashlight at the spider. The contrast of a light-brown spider on a dark background really helps your camera focus!
Take a few shots and settle in on camera settings that get the look you want. I wanted to have the spider in focus with the web fading into a blur. To achieve this, I was about five feet from the spider shooting at f/2.8. This produces a narrow depth of field (and lets in more light) so that I could better control image sharpness. I set my ISO to 250 to capture more light and, once happy with my approach, set my shutter speed to my camera’s highest sync-speed (1/250th).
Adding Color to the Shot
- Magmod MagSphere (one on each light)
- Magmod MagGel
- Magmod Creative Gels
All of the above products can be found at magnetmod.com. There are alternative solutions, but I cannot recommend these enough for quick, creative changes.
My new favorite speedlights utilize ETTL technology. This can take a lot of guesswork out of your shot and allows you to focus more on creativity. Knowing I would be dancing about in the dark, I mounted one light on my camera. Better to use on-camera flash than to trip over a lightstand! This light is just for fill, to make sure the spider stands out on the web.
The second light is positioned behind the webbing and out of line of sight of the lens. This one is gelled so that it isn’t just lighting up the web, it is also adding the color. Utilizing your voice-activated light stand* and color gel changer is a must here! They can be very expensive, but are also handy for other, non-photographic tasks such as taking out the trash and emptying the dishwasher.
Adjust each light’s output accordingly, making sure to highlight the spider while adding color with the backlight. Beyond that, have fun and stay out of the web! Once finished, pack up and thank the spider for their cooperation and free insect control technique.
What do you enjoy adding color to when you create with gels?