Found A Tiny Spider & Lockdown Extended

Side Note: Stop asking me about the newly launched Olympus E-P7 and 8-25mm PRO lens. I don't have them. There is nothing I can tell you more than what you already know from the official announcements. 

I guess it came with no surprise that the total lockdown which was placed in effect from 1-14 June was now extended to end of the month (news article here). The partial lockdown started in May (total lockdown started June), and it has been a month and a half I was trapped in my tiny little room. Currently the numbers of daily reported new cases are still running high with no signs of coming down, even after a month and a half long of various lockdowns in place (including 2 weeks full lockdown) and it is also reported that we are running out of hospital beds. If the numbers don't come down and situation does not improve, who knows maybe the whole country will be locked down for more months to come. Quite a depressing thought and seriously there is nothing anyone, or I can do at this point, but to just try to stay sane as long as possible. 

And I found a tiny jumping spider in my room. Hello!

What big eyes you have! Too bad the fangs are hidden, the fangs do look quite cool too. 
This image was obviously cropped. Full uncropped images more down below. 

I'd rather have my room clean from any insects, bugs or spiders, but I guess these little creatures are everywhere and I can't keep them out 100%. So the next best thing is to take out my macro gear and take some shots. Those of you who suggested "hey Robin why don't you do macro photography in your room?", I ask you this - ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

The shooting technique was quite straightforward and I have shared several times here over the years. If you want the full rundown of what I did, you can go to my macro shooting technique blog entry here (click). I also did a video showing how I shot my insect macro here (click). I have shared EVERYTHING from what lens, what camera, what settings, how to get the shot, wireless flash, how I diffuse my flash, seriously every single detail! I did not hide anything. 

I don't think the spider will survive long. I saw a lizard lurking around somewhere. 

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro, FL-LM3 flash attached on camera, FL-50R Olympus flash fired wirelessly off camera, diffused with a square softbox. 

General camera settings: 1/160, F8-11, ISO200, Flash on manual, adjusted accordingly. 

Lighting is critical for macro, there are many ways you can light your subject. The popular choice is using flash, and just make sure it is diffused properly. Using a large softbox is a safe technique. 

That Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens is an optical wonder. Even after all these years the lens is possibly the best macro lens in the market. The image quality it renders is second to none. 

There are many, many ways to get a good macro shot. To get sufficient magnification (getting close and have the subject appear large in your frame), you can either use a dedicated macro lens like the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro, or use various other techniques like extension tubes, macro converters, or even reversed lens ring attachment. You can even use a combination of different methods (say a macro lens and an additional converter) to achieve even more magnification. There is no right or wrong, just find the right method for your needs. 

Insects, or in this case the jumping spider did not stay still for very long. It jumps, because, you know, the name jumping spider. I don't think setting up a tripod and shooting using manual focus is very practical. I need to move whenever the spider moves, no matter how slightly. Being able to shoot hand-held is a huge bonus point. The Olympus cameras support powerful 5-Axis IS, which helps stabilize the live view on LCD or EVF, you don't get crazy shaky viewfinder when framing the spider. The active image stabilization will aid in steadying your view, which prevents headaches and help the shooting process much smoother. 

The spider was quite cooperative. It did stop and pose for me for at least a few seconds before jumping off. It did not seem to be afraid of me, it was just moving around merrily, but not away from me, or hiding in impossible spots. I did not get many good shots, but just a few good ones. 

I somehow wish the spider was green, or blue in color, but I guess that's too much to ask for. 

I quickly realize shooting too low of an angle, though at the eye level of the spider, may not be the best composition option. The spider was hiding in between gaps, though not disappearing from me completely, it did not die deeper into the gap. On normal cases this would be difficult to shoot because of dim light. This explains why I used the wireless flash off camera, I can position the light wherever I want and get sufficient light to hit the spider. 

This was an uncropped image, showing how small the spider was. This image was at full 2:1 magnification. Meaning this was the maximum magnification that the lens is capable of, and the spider was probably only 8mm in size (half of the frame, which was 17mm in length). 

I should have probably stopped down the aperture further for this shot to see more of the body and legs in focus. 

Another close crop, still revealing massive amount of fine details. 

I know some of my friends would catch the insects from their garden or the park, and then freeze them in the refrigerator. The bugs are cold blooded, they won't die, but the low temperature will slow them down. As they were frozen, then they would move the bugs and pose them in grass or leaves or branches and even spray them with droplets of water, making the dramatic look. 

I think that is cruel, inhumane, and falls into the category of animal cruelty. Please, I beg you, don't touch the bugs. Leave them alone. Please be a little more respectful to nature. 

I don't know how to feel about the extended lockdown, with high possibilities of further extension. To be entirely honest, even shooting that tiny spider was not so fun any more. I miss being able to find more colorful bugs to photograph. And if I bring my camera out to the park, I get fined RM10,000 (USD2,500), even if I was shooting bugs alone. 

What happens to a man when is confined in a small space against his will for an extended period of time? Maybe I will be a case study. We will find out, won't we?

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  1. Nice macro work, Robin.
    I loved doing spiders outside the window or the radio station where I worked. I've quite a stock of 35mm spiders and webs, all from the late 1970s.
    Stay in, stay safe, and I hope your country soon goes the way our State has been; very low numbers, (continuously declining), and about 90% of things reopened.

    1. Wow, you have spiders just outside where you work? That's incredible. When I was an engineer I had access to tunnels and underground drainage, man the spiders in these places are humongous! Too bad I was working and can't exactly spend time shooting the spiders.

  2. not a spider expert, but could it be a female Adanson's house jumper?

    1. Yeah it is quite a common jumping spider here in Malaysia. Seen this everywhere.

  3. ahah, glad I've been able to identify it :-)
    If you like, you could add some of your observations/photos to iNat, your pics would sure be much, much higher quality than pretty every other, and they would be very useful in helping other people id etc. (you can easily hide the coordinates, not to show where you live for example). Also you could look for my profile, it's a bit like FB for nerdy naturalists :-)

  4. Hey Robin, it really sucks with the lockdown and i definitely feel for you and wish you all the best. I sent you 40 USD, PayPal claims it was delivered, hope so, and hope all of your viewers contribute a bit to help get you through.

  5. Robin! I have a video idea. Will you give photo editing tutorials? That is something that I am lacking and I think you would be able to create interesting photo editing videos.

  6. Robin, I want your tutorials to be so good that they actually become art pieces. If you could give me some of the tips and tricks for editing photos in Corel Painter X3 or Adobe Photoshop CC, then my photo edits will end up looking like masterpieces!

    I love watching videos on YouTube about how people edit their pictures because it always inspires me. However, when I watch them there are also a lot of things that distract from being able to learn any technique at all- too much background noise with no captions while someone talks off screen visit my website timetoshade