Female Argiope aurantia Spider
Last Friday I received almost 400 visits from searches regarding yellow and black spiders with Zig Zag patterns in their web. With that in mind Ive updated this article and put it back at the front of the line as little educational F.Y.I. Enjoy!
If you live in North America chances are you’ve come across a female Argiope aurantia spider in your back yard, garden or in a field. They’re commonly known as the Common Garden Spider, Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Writing Spider, or
Corn Spider. They span from Central America into Canada and various species of them are found across the planet. You will usually see the females as in this particular picture and they can be quite big and impressive. They weave a large transparent Orb Web with a vertical Z pattern in the middle. They’ll spend much of their day in their web waiting for prey. Like many spiders it can consume a prey twice it’s size and it’s fangs are large enough to pack a nasty yet harmless bite on humans.
Photographing this spider can be quite complex especially in wild fields. The vast amount of vegetation makes it difficult to approach and it’s almost invisible web easily disturbed when attempting to setup camera gear. You can find them at heights of two to three feet up, if the vegetation is high enough. Unfortunately this one was barely a foot off the ground and demanded the tripod lay flat on the ground. if you disturb the web and scare the spider she will hide in the vegetation below and may not come back for a long time depending on what you’ve done. As a guideline always respect the subject and the natural habitat around you and the subject. This time of year these spiders are quite common and if you find one that’s hard to reach with a camera, you’re best to continue your search as a better positioned one will surely surface rapidly.
To photograph this spider we laid a Manfrotto 055 Pro tripod on the ground and extended the neck shaft in a horizontal position to adjust our working distance to the spider. It was late in the day and a small 12 inch silver reflector was used to clear up some shadows to the right of the subject. A Nikon SB-900 flash with diffuser was also laid on the ground below the spider to provide additional light. In addition we also used right angle viewfinder to better compose the scene and a remote trigger to keep the equipment vibration free while shooting
This particular spider is quite large and can be scary for some people to work with. It’s size means your likely to need a smaller aperture if you want to capture the maximum amount of detail possible. In this particular photo I decided to shoot @ f/5.6 as a good compromise between detail and Bokeh. The vegetation directly behind the web made it hard to obtain a nice background. That’s why I decided to employ a blur brush in Photoshop to further enhance the Bokeh and allow the spider to better detach from the background.
I know this is not the best picture I can get and I’ll be returning to fields looking for a better positioned spider in the perfect light. It was however my first Argiope aurantia Spider and it was quite challenging to capture and to work so closely to it.
Since this spider is almost always with its head facing down chances are you will almost always have to use a small reflector or remote flash to light up the underside. The web is quite large with many anchor points so be careful not to intrude too much and respect this spider’s space.
PHOTO INFO: Taken with a Nikon D300s equipped with a Sigma 105mm Macro Lens (f/5.6 – 1/500 -ISO400) with the use of a remote Nikon SB-900 flash triggered remotely through CLS and a 12 inch silver reflector.