Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

Warning, there be spiders here, tread with caution. Today I would like to show you a bit more of how I might arrive at the final result when I’m shooting bugs – I go about things quite differently compared to last year.

When I got started with my bug shooting last year I pretty much shot everything that moved and then slowly started working more on composition and angles to get better shots instead of just a lot of them. This year I’m taking that concept even further and I try to really get the most from my subjects. That means that I shoot a lot less but my results are getting better. Let’s take a look at how this shot of a spider came to be.

I mostly went out to try some things with the ants that live close to our flat (hopefully something I can use to get some good shots eventually) but before going back home a took a quick tour through the small forest area to see if I could find anything interesting. This spider was sitting on a leaf and it was pure luck that I spotted him. It was quite windy so shooting him where he was sitting wasn’t going to work. As I’ve described before it’s usually easy to move critters when it’s windy so I took the leaf from the tree and sat down where we could get some shelter.

The first shots (see above, the shots there are straight from camera) were ok, the critter was a fairly willing poser and I always like a good spider. However, they didn’t have anything that made them really pop; the background is black and, as some of you may remember from another post, I often don’t like it when the bugs are sitting on leafs. Luckily I had my coloured paper with me and I had even added blue (using my daughter’s chalk again) to the other side so that pink wasn’t my only option. I put the paper down on a rock and the results were definitely more interesting.

SpiderStill, the problem of the leaf remained. At this point I already had a few good shots but I wanted to keep pushing for even better ones. I found myself a twig and encouraged the spider to climb up on it – if this lost me the spider I already had some shots so it wouldn’t be a complete waste. Amazingly the spider took the whole being-prodded-with-a-stick-thing pretty well and now I had much better possibilities for more interesting compositions. At first he sat quite still but after a while he started getting a bit skittish and at one point he even ran up my arm. I managed to get him back on the stick and, while still being slightly skittish, he gave me the shot at the top.

I would never have gotten this shot last year, I would have been content with the first ones and left it at that. By working a shoot like this, to keep looking for ways to improve things, I feel the results you can obtain are better than if you rely on serendipity to bring you the good shots. It’s definitely time well spent, at least if you prefer quality over quantity.

Keep shooting and I’ll be back next week.


Spider Spider


4 Responses to “The evolution of a shoot”

  1. michaelqpowell

    Thanks so much for sharing your thought process as you went about trying to shoot the spider. I am just starting out with macro photography and photographing insects. It’s one thing to see the results and marvel at them, but I learned so much more by understanding how you got those amazing results.

    • Rifqi

      You’re very welcome, I’m always happy if my information can help people get better shots. Don’t hessitate if you have questions, I try to encourage discussion on my blog, even though I don’t have many readers.

      • michaelqpowell

        I’ll be sure to let you know. I’m off with a friend today to try to shoot butterflies (in an indoor butterfly garden). I’ve only started to get more serious with photos a couple of months ago and buying a macro lens has helped me a lot.

      • Rifqi

        Good luck, it’s all about practice, patience and luck. Just try different angles and make sure you get focus on the eye closest to the camera. It doesn’t matter if everything else is tack sharp, if you miss focus on the eye, you miss the shot, at least in my opinion.

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