Little Jumper





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Behind The Lens

I took this photo at the Cairns Botanic Gardens in Queensland, Australia. I met up with another local photographer (always great to have company) to check out a new butterfly display that had recently opened. This photo of a jumping spider turned out to be my favourite shot of the day, though!
I live outside of Cairns, so I forgot about the city traffic when planning my trip. I was staying at an accommodation in Cairns, and I think I left before 8:00am. It took me about 45 minutes of driving on a route that usually takes 25 minutes. At times, I was travelling as slow as 20km/h on 100km/h roads! We spent a little time photographing the butterflies and plants before I noticed this cute little guy. My camera exif data tells me I took this photo on November the 2nd, 2015, at 9:34am. It was a beautiful sunny day too!
Sunlight is great for macro, as it's very bright. I did have my speedlight with me, but I'm not sure if I used that to create the catchlights in the eyes or not, as I wasn't really a macro fanatic yet.
I shot this with my trusty Canon 7D and 24-105mm f/4L. I used an amazing technique I had learned some time ago online. It's called "reverse macro." Basically, with most lenses between 20mm and 100mm, you can take the lens off the camera, turn it around, and hold it against the body (lens filter thread against camera mount). This often allows for macro shooting, on the cheap! I think I had my lens set to 105mm. You won't have autofocus, but you can "focus" simply by moving the camera closer or further away from the subject. It takes some practice, but for me, it's worth the $500 or so that I save by not purchasing a dedicated macro lens. Another little tip with lenses that do not have manual aperture rings, is to set your aperture before removing the lens, and then remove the lens while holding down the depth-of-field-preview button. This closes down the aperture, and keeps it closed when the lens is removed. I had my aperture set at about f/10, as far as I can remember. My other settings were 1/250th, ISO400, and I shot in RAW.
Jumping spiders have always fascinated me. They have great personalities, and many are just "little brown things" until you check them out up close. This particular spider just looked great. It happened to be of a light yellow colour, and it was even sitting on beautiful big green leaves. The perfect shot! I'm in a jumping spiders group on Facebook, which not only provides me with lots of information regarding spider behaviour and ID, but also has many great photographers, whose images have greatly inspired my jumping spider images.
As I shoot RAW, I post-process almost every image that I take. Unless I took them for an extremely artistic purpose, I do like to keep my images looking as natural as possible. For this shot, I cropped the image a little, sharpened it, and added some contrast, clarity and vibrance. I also played a little bit with the shadows and blacks sliders in Adobe Camera Raw, my main image processor, to make the spider pop out from the background.
In my camera bag
Until March of 2016, I shot with a Canon 7D, Canon 24-105mm f/4L, and a Tamron 70-300mm VC USD (my favourite budget lens for birding). Since then, I've moved completely away from shooting DSLRs. I currently shoot with an Olympus E-M5 Mark II, Olympus PEN E-P5, Olympus 75-300mm II (absolutely amazing lens), Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, and Olympus 45mm f/1.8. This kit weights less than my Canon setup, and takes less space too! I also keep a few spare batteries on hand, along with a LensPen and some spare SD cards. I like to carry a little notebook around too, to take quick notes if I find anything interesting.
Jumping spiders reside in pretty much every country in the world. And they are all unique, so will provide great fun (and challenges) when photographing them. I like to make my own diffusers for my speedlights, experimenting with what kind of light works best for tiny macro subjects. I do love sunlight though, so that's all you need to start out. If you don't have a dedicated macro, just try the "reverse macro" technique. It's almost been a year since I took this photo, and I still don't have a proper macro; "reverse macro" has been serving me well. Jumping spiders are very curious little guys, so they may jump around (and onto you) at times. It just takes some patience to get the right shot, but when you do, you'll be ecstatic! Good luck.

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