Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
09-06-2021, 06:18 PM - 2 Likes   #1
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 315
Tips for nighttime photos of spiders under streetlights?

Hello:

First, there will be pictures of SPIDERS in this thread. I mention this because some people simply can't deal with spiders.


Anyhow... can anyone offer some tips for getting better pictures of huge spiders under harsh streetlights?

I'm staying in a hotel in a small town in Minnesota, and the pedestrian bridge over the river is packed with huge spiders. Each night for the past three nights, they come out, spin big webs near the bridge lights, and feast on the little moths and flies that swarm the lights.

I've been trying to take pictures, and tonight will be my last chance before we head back home. I've gotten so-so shots, partly because I don't have exactly the equipment I would choose for this subject/lighting.

Here's what I got so far. These are B– pictures, maybe B pictures. I'd like to do better.





The challenges:
light: the spiders and their webs cluster near the big flourescent lights that occur every fourth post on the bridge. So it's either very dark, or dazzlingly bright.
wind: It's not terribly windy, but there is just enough of a breeze to make things tricky.
gear: I have "better" gear back home—ring light, macro extension tube, full-size tripod, external flash—but I have only what I brought for a 3-day trip.
creepy: I'm not touching a spider, and I'm not letting any of my gear touch a spider, either.

I brought my tabletop tripod. It's 12" tall with a decent ball head that can angle up or down about 30°. Landscape only. The spiders on this bridge are mostly two or three feet in the air, so I set up my tripod below them and aim up, INTO the light. Not ideal.
I have three green-ring SMC DA Limiteds with me, that's it: 15mm, 21mm, 70mm. I've been using the 70mm, which can focus down to about 26 inches. I also have a +2 diopter close-up lens/filter, which allows the 70mm to focus down to…about 18 inches?

The spiders will be out around midnight; any thoughts? Thanks!

---------- Post added 09-06-2021 at 08:28 PM ----------

I guess I should mention:

I took the sample photos above at ƒ/8, 1/4 sec or so, with a 2sec timer (which turns off my Shake Reduction). I think they move, or the wind moves them, too much for such a long exposure. I tried focusing in live view and through the viewfinder, but the two sample shots, which were the sharpest I managed to get, were taken with manual focusing, focus peaking, through live view. The K-S2 lets me angle the screen nicely, but some kind of motion blur or defocusing is making these shots too soft.

I also feel the light is too harsh/flared, but again, I'm shooting up INTO muncipal fluorescent lights, so maybe I can't fix that.

09-06-2021, 07:19 PM - 2 Likes   #2
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter
UncleVanya's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2014
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 24,478
Can you get a selfie stick or a fishing pole or a wand from a set of blinds and maybe a pillowcase to put near the subject and reflect or diffuse light? Can you push the exposure darker and lift from raw later - this might allow you to push the shutter speed higher. Another possibility is that you could change positions so you are shooting at an angle and you could add paper or a magazine to shield the light from the lens.
09-06-2021, 07:27 PM   #3
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Idaho
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 1,949
I played with the last shot using levels and contrast, and it isn't too bad. The only issue is washed out whites. I would suggest you use some exposure compensation to prevent the highlights from washing out (the spiders' bodies to be more specific). The in post processing you should be able to pull more out of the photos. If you have anything which can make a diffuser out of (like a stretched piece of white cloth) and get that between the spider and the light source, it might help. Also you might use some aluminum foil to make a reflector and get some light from a different direction on the spider of interest. The foil will help diffuse the light some while you're at it. Just my two cents.

Great looking arachnids!! Wouldn't want one of those down my neck
09-06-2021, 07:30 PM   #4
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 315
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Can you get a selfie stick or a fishing pole or a wand from a set of blinds and maybe a pillowcase to put near the subject and reflect or diffuse light? Can you push the exposure darker and lift from raw later - this might allow you to push the shutter speed higher. Another possibility is that you could change positions so you are shooting at an angle and you could add paper or a magazine to shield the light from the lens.
These are some good suggestions! You really impressed me with "wand from a set of blinds and maybe a pillowcase" that is some seriously creative thinking about the tools at hand. I think I can try a magazine/piece of paper to reflect the light. Also, looking around the hotel room with fresh eyes, I see that I have a wooden stool that I can sneak outside and onto the bridge. That might allow me to shoot down/away from the footpath lights. Here goes! Thank you.

09-06-2021, 09:03 PM   #5
Tas
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Brisbane, QLD
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 2,196
I don't know how close you can get, but you could look to capture a silhouette like this one: Spiderman gets a call | Just like Batman in Gotham City, Spi? | Flickr

This was a decent size spider in a tree out the front of my place and I saw it and the potential to frame it in front of a street light. The distance compression works with the long lens and not sure if anything like this will work where you are but with light being an issue I thought I'd pass this idea along.

Good luck with the captures.

Tas
09-06-2021, 09:04 PM   #6
Pentaxian
Thagomizer's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: London Ontario
Posts: 2,064
Just a thought. If your camera has a pop-up flash, you might wanna buy yourself a coffee at Starbuck's:



I used this when I forgot my Potato chip-tin flash extender/diffuser. The diffusion material is a paper napkin, also from Starbuck's. This was a Grande; Venti would have been even better. It got the light to my subject, so my flash wasn't casting a shadow of my lens onto it. This was with a Sigma 70mm macro, which focuses more closely than what you have with you will permit. 18 inches is a fair distance away, but who knows, it might help if you can use it. Good luck!

Last edited by Thagomizer; 09-06-2021 at 09:28 PM.
09-06-2021, 10:48 PM   #7
Pentaxian
35mmfilmfan's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Norfolk, UK
Posts: 3,186
QuoteOriginally posted by Thagomizer Quote
Just a thought. If your camera has a pop-up flash, you might wanna buy yourself a coffee at Starbuck's:



I used this when I forgot my Potato chip-tin flash extender/diffuser.
Glad someone else uses one of these !!

09-07-2021, 12:58 AM   #8
Pentaxian




Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Cymru
Posts: 2,169
The K-S2 has a good, usable ISO range. I've found from past experience that pushing it to around 800 still gives very nicely detailed shots. At that point, you're nearing a more useful shutter speed. Open up that aperture a little more and you're further increasing your shutter speed. This will help you with 'freezing' the motion a bit more, so-to-speak.
From what I can tell (and may be wrong), your shots aren't near the 1:1 macro range, i.e. the lens isn't near minimum focus distance. Your aperture will be a little less pivotal until you are at these super close distances, so feel free to play around with that a little more to improve your shutter speed. Everything else will start falling into place there.

I was in a similar boat when I started, I wanted to preserve ISO for reducing noise. I was told that a blurry shot with no noise was worse than a non-blurry shot with noise. I wholeheartedly agree, now.

Edit: That top shot with the 'harsher' lighting would be epic as a B&W shot. Get it looking super grungy with the highlights drawing the eye!
09-07-2021, 06:02 AM   #9
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter
UncleVanya's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2014
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 24,478
QuoteOriginally posted by PocketPixels Quote
These are some good suggestions! You really impressed me with "wand from a set of blinds and maybe a pillowcase" that is some seriously creative thinking about the tools at hand. I think I can try a magazine/piece of paper to reflect the light. Also, looking around the hotel room with fresh eyes, I see that I have a wooden stool that I can sneak outside and onto the bridge. That might allow me to shoot down/away from the footpath lights. Here goes! Thank you.
I’m glad these suggestions sparked some ideas. I can’t wait to see what you got. I hope that you were able to get some results your proud of.
09-07-2021, 07:01 AM   #10
Site Supporter
Site Supporter
ehrwien's Avatar

Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 2,125
You could get even closer with the 21, though it didn't sound like you want to get much closer (understandably) But I think it might be worth it to experiment with one of the wider lenses as well.
10-15-2021, 04:36 PM - 5 Likes   #11
Site Supporter
Site Supporter




Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 315
Original Poster
Hey, sorry for leaving you hanging for a while. I went back out with a stool I cribbed from the hotel room. Putting my tabletop tripod on this 36" stool gave me a 48" tripod, and that was a big help. I also took some aluminum foil from the kitchenette area, wrapped/taped it around a piece of cardboard, and gave myself a reflector of sorts.

I got this. Note that I got the shutter speed down to 1/30s at ƒ/13 because of the extra light from the "reflector." That was a big help in the light breeze over the river. Not perfect, but pretty creepy and a good bit better than I was managing before. Thank you all for the ideas and encouragement.


Last edited by PocketPixels; 10-15-2021 at 05:01 PM. Reason: deleted extra img tags
10-15-2021, 06:54 PM - 1 Like   #12
Loyal Site Supporter
Loyal Site Supporter
UncleVanya's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2014
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 24,478
QuoteOriginally posted by PocketPixels Quote
Hey, sorry for leaving you hanging for a while. I went back out with a stool I cribbed from the hotel room. Putting my tabletop tripod on this 36" stool gave me a 48" tripod, and that was a big help. I also took some aluminum foil from the kitchenette area, wrapped/taped it around a piece of cardboard, and gave myself a reflector of sorts.

I got this. Note that I got the shutter speed down to 1/30s at ƒ/13 because of the extra light from the "reflector." That was a big help in the light breeze over the river. Not perfect, but pretty creepy and a good bit better than I was managing before. Thank you all for the ideas and encouragement.

Great outside the box thinking and a good result.
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
70mm, bridge, camera, focus, gear, light, lights, photography, pictures, shots, spider, spiders, technique, tripod
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Night Nighttime Sunset mahanpots Post Your Photos! 9 07-11-2021 08:38 PM
How LED Streetlights are Changing Los Angeles interested_observer Photographic Technique 13 02-19-2014 09:32 PM
Non-obvious tips for nighttime people photography? Newtophotos Photographic Technique 7 12-10-2013 10:23 PM
Macro Spiders (And More Spiders) joe.penn Post Your Photos! 3 09-26-2011 08:28 PM
Cityscape Streetlights kbryant Photo Critique 5 12-19-2010 01:13 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:24 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top