I was taking a load of clothes out to the washer one evening, and as I turned on the light in the garage, I saw I pretty big spider run behind the dryer. I was too far away to really see what kind it was, and living where I live, I’m pretty used to seeing all kinds of creepy crawlies, so I didn’t really give it a second thought.
A while later, I went back out to check my laundry, and this time, the spider didn’t run. She was perched in her web, in between the dryer and the wall, just above the bottom crack of a door that leads outside. I was able to get close enough to see she was a black widow and then she took off again.
This was a big black widow! She was at least three pennies long from leg tip to leg tip! BWs are very common where I live, but I hadn’t seen one this big, ever. There’s one that lives out by the mailbox post, and another that lives under the siding on the house, outside, and they are about half this one’s size.
…I know, I know… it’s here that I’m supposed to get the bug spray or the broom… or some other instrument to kill this fowl intruder, right?
I went inside and got a white paper towel to use as a backdrop, the tripod, and my camera. I put the 70-300mm lens on the D80 and locked it on the tripod. Then I laid the white paper towel under her web, hoping to get good contrast…if I could even get a picture at all…she was nowhere to be seen while I was doing this.
I placed the tripod, camera aimed at the center of the web, in the area that she had been perched and extended the cord remote thingie; that got me a few more feet away. I didn’t tighten the tripod swivel down, so it would be easier to adjust, if she even gave me chance for a shot… Then I went inside and watched TV for bit.
When I went back out, she was waiting for me. I moved slowly over to the camera and looked through the view finder and she was right there! She hadn’t moved! I grabbed the clicker and checked the meter through the view finder. I didn’t want to use a flash and I was hoping she would be still long enough to get a good shot at a longer exposure. I made some adjustments…she was sitting still…focused and clicked… a quarter second later, I had my first shot! As I was getting ready for the second, she ran away.
I went ahead and made some adjustments to the tripod; raised it and placed the camera over her web, looking down on the paper towel. I left the f5 aperture setting alone and just zoomed in on the center of the web, where she had been, and then I went back inside for a while.
We did this probably five more times throughout the evening, and each time I was able to make adjustments that would allow for longer exposures, and she would sit still through about four or five shots at a time before running behind the dryer again. She let me get up to six-second exposures of her!
By 1am, I had enough shots and said goodnight. I saw her every time I went into the garage after that, until the first real freeze. I haven’t seen her since then…but judging by her size, she may have survived a couple seasons already, and maybe I’ll get to see her again.