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Some of the most beautiful examples of spider webs are often in readily accessible areas--even in our own yards! Orb webs are often found spun in open areas where small insects can be trapped. While they may be seen as obstacles that need to be removed, the fact is that spider webs are natures own pest control--helping to reduce the insect population just like birds do.

So the next time you see some unique spider webs, instead of knocking them down, grab a camera and take some photos! Here are some techniques that may help you in capturing images of webs.

Some general photography issues to keep in consideration:

  • Contrast
    • The reason that we usually find webs by walking through them is that we can't see them. A good way to make sure your webs appear on your photos is to shoot from angles that provide good contrast with the light webs (i.e. a dark background).
  • Focus
    • If you have the choice between using auto focus and manual, go with manual. Although you can pick up webs without them being in focus, if you want them to be sharp then you will have to focus manually. Unless there's some mass to the webs, your camera will most likely focus on whatever is behind the webs.

    Click images for larger view

In this example I took a straight up photo of some spider webs in my front yard. If you click on the image you see that the webs are faint and hard to detect despite them being in relative focus, and there being a good contrast against the background.

Using a fine mist of water from a spray bottle I dusted the webs. This adds contrast to the webs, making them pop out against the background. Spray paint would work too, but water works well and is safe for the spider (you wouldn't like it if someone came spray painting your home!).

This picture was shot without flash. The web is visible, but soft upon close inspection.

I used the flash for this shot, and you can see that the web is much sharper on close inspection. Some areas aren't as visible as without a flash though, so there are pros and cons to using a flash.

Image after levels adjustment and color correction.

Same image with Unsharp Mask filter applied. Notice the newly exposed details in the water droplets that were misted over the web. The values I used were around 130% for Amount, 2.0 for Radius, and 2 for Threshold. Every photo is different though.