Share this with a friend. Ideally one with crippling arachnophobia.

First of all apologies for the lack of blog last week. I want to say it was because I was really busy finishing off a job, which is true, but I am also suffering from a bit of writers block. I mean I've already written about insects, photographing insects, my production company that makes films about insects, the tools I use to photograph and film insects and conservation (hopefully of insects). What else actually is there to write about?! Seriously?! And then it hit me, I'll write about spiders!

It makes sense, the first film I ever made was about a spider. The Fen Raft Spider to be precise.

Also people are terrified of them. Which I have to admit I find hilarious. Why? What's so scary about this Money spider?

Harmless

Right now I am reading a very good book lent to me by my friend Mark, who is a spider expert at the Bristol Natural History Museum. It's called The Biology of Spiders by Reiner Foelix, and unsurprisingly I'm learning all sorts of interesting things about spiders. For instance: spiders have special sensory hairs on their bodies that are so sensitive to changes in air pressure that it has been described as a sort of sense of touch at a distance, useful if you hunt in the dark. Spider have 4 pairs of eyes*. Seen here on this crab spider.

Count the eyes.

Anterior median (front, middle), anterior lateral (front, edge) posterior median (back, middle) and posterior lateral (back, edge). The arrangement of these eyes is actually a really good way of determining what family the spider belongs to.

Notice the different arrangement of eyes

The jumping spiders Salticidae have the most sophisticated and well studied visual systems. The main (adorable) pair, the Anterior Median Eyes (AME) distinguish shapes and form, the others detect movement.

Adorable

Why is it that spiders have eight eyes and pretty much everything else that even has eyes has two? I don't actually know. But it was suggested to me once that it was because they, unlike insects, don’t have a separate head to look around with.

Beetles can look up

Spiders do get a really bad rap. I've seen it argued that it's because some of them are actually fast, aggressive, and their bite can cause priapism (look it up), followed by multiple organ failure and death, combined with the difficulty lay people have telling the difference between spiders them means being a bit nervous around them isn't actually irrational but rather sensible. To them I say this; the lightning fast, super aggressive spider that famously causes priapism and death is very easy to spot. Seriously, you will totally know one of those guys when you see it. I'd love to show you a picture of one to help (or maybe even tell you it's name). But I'm afraid I've never shot one. Because I don't have life insurance.

*Most spiders. Some spiders have less. Some have none at all. Nature can be confusing.

What's new with Team Candiru?

Well I sat down the other day and worked out that we actually have quite a lot of major projects in the pipeline. So here is a little rundown.

Scotland's Micro Monsters: This is a project that we are working on with renowned presenter and biologist Dr Ross Piper. We will be making a few awesome sequences about solitary wasps, nursery web spiders and sundews. We have just applied for some funding from Creative Scotland to get this project off the ground. If you enjoyed The Solitary Bees do watch this space.

Madagascar: We have submitted a proposal to the AEECL (The European Society for the Study and Conservation of Lemurs) to make a film all about the work that they do out in Madagascar. So far the initial feedback has been very encouraging. This film will be funded by a MAJOR crowd sourcing effort. Once it is underway we do encourage as many people to share and donate as possible.

Armenia: A few weeks ago I was filming at the Communicate conference. While there I met the delightful Bethan John founder of Wildlands Creative. I told her about our little company and said that we were keen to collaborate with new people. I am delighted to say that it looks like we are going to be making a film together to raise awareness about a vital land corridor running between Armenia and Iran. This land will be vital for the future of some of the Caucuses most amazing and endangered animals including the Asiatic leopard.

California Bees and Blooms: By far our largest and most ambitious project. Working together with the University of California Berkeley we will be making a film about the lives of some of California's 1600 species of native bee.

Technical specs:

Money spider

Camera: Nikon d300s

Lens: NIkon 105mm macro

Natural light.

Crab Spider

Camera: NIkon d300s

Lens: 24mm mf 2.8 prime reverse mounted with a home-made reversing ring.

Lit by an SB-800 speedlight and a home made diffuser.

Raft Spider

Camera: Nikon d300s

Lens: Nikon 60mm macro

Natural light.

Jumping Spider

Camera: Nikon d300s

Lens: 24mm mf 2.8 prime reverse mounted with a home-made reversing ring.

Lit by an SB-800 speedlight and a home made diffuser.

Thicked Legged Flower Beetle

Camera: Nikon d300s

Lens: 24mm mf 2.8 prime reverse mounted with a home-made reversing ring.

Lit by an SB-800 speedlight and a home made diffuser.


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