My Most Commented About Image on Facebook


Huntsman Spider © Dave Cracknell 2011

Last night while sitting in the lounge room watching TV my wife mentioned that there was a large spider in the en suite that I would have to “Dispose Of” before she went to bed. Having been married to my loving wife for over 23 years I knew what she meant, my wife has a major dislike of our multi legged friends, “Dispose of” didn’t mean going “Saprano” on it but gently removing it from our house THEN going “Saprano on its ass”.


As a photographer I love the opportunity to photograph different objects as they presented themselves. I went to check on our furry friend to see where it was and I located it just beside the toilet and it was quite large. To photograph it I had to be in control of the situation and had to capture it and move it to a photography friendly spot.

I quickly found a suitable container and lid and within a minute had the little guy encacerated. I know that spiders and insects slow down when cold so in order to photograph the spider I needed it to be less flighty, so I popped him into the freezer for 10 minutes. This doesn’t kill them it just slows them down considerably, however too long in the freezer and it would have been “swimming with the fishes”, if you get my meaning.


© Dave Cracknell


While the spider was preoccupied I quickly set up a mini lighting setup to help capture the spider’s portrait. I wanted a natural background so a palm leaf was chosen. I chose a lighting rig that didn’t work and swapped it to the Orbis Flash Modifier. Here are the components shown in the image on the right.

1. Canon EOS 7D + Canon 100mm f2.8 USM Macro + Canon WFT-E5 wi-fi grip mounted to a focusing rail which in turn is mounted to my Studio Stand.

2. The Orbis Flash Modifier is mounted on a Canon 580EX II Speedlite.

3. The Canon 580 EX II Speedlite.

4. My iPad is sitting on a Laptop table attached to the Studio Stand and the iPad is synced to receive the images as I take them via the WiFi Grip on camera.

5. This is where the spider WAS during the shoot. The palm leaf is there to provide a more natural background.

6. Canon Off Camera Shoe Cord provided the communication between camera and flash.

7. An external battery pack is attached to the 580 EX II to provide a quick recycle time.

8. A Manfrotto Magic Arm is used to hold the flash just above the Camera & Lens.

The white background was placed behind it all only for the photo of the rig. The crap stuff behind on my bench was too distracting.


Ring Flash Lighting © Dave Cracknell

To explain why I put the ring flash above the camera rather than over the lens like you are supposed to, is quite simply, to cast shadows. If  I had used the ring flash as a ring flash then the result would have been 2 dimensional and evenly lit. As you can see on the left side of the image above. I don’t know if you are aware that a spiders skin and fur is quite reflective and front lighting the spider would have just been bad. Plus the eyes, all six would not be as dark and foreboding. As you can see on the left side of the photo the eyes have gone almost transparent. A large light source close to your subject gives a softer, wrapping lighting effect. I wanted shadow but I didn’t want them harsh and behind the subject. I wanted an imposing  image that would evoke an emotional response and have a little mystery and wonder to it.


I put all this together with the knowledge I had about 10 minutes of freezer time for the spider and I hoped to have at least 5 minutes of shooting time. I took only 12 images during which I had to compose, focus  the camera and wrangle a spider. Even though the spider was moving in slow mo it only had one goal and that was to get away. Once the spider has warmed up it was off and that is when you call it a night. I recaptured the spider and set it free outside the house as per the wife’s request. The spider quickly disappeared from view behind some pot plants. I don’t expect it to come inside ever again.

The reason I had the iPad receiving the images was so I could edit the image and send to Facebook. The images were collected on the iPad by an App called ShutterSnitch. I quickly chose the image I liked, not hard when there is only 12 to choose from and exported the image to my photo album on the iPad. Another App called Adobe Photoshop Express was used to edit the image and send to Facebook. all up it took around 3-4 minutes after the spider was released to have the image up on Facebook, not a world record I know but still not too bad. What amazed me though was the reaction on Facebook to the image. I had the image on Facebook for less than a minute before the comments started.

The comments ranged from the “EEWWW!!” to “Great Detail” even “I Love it”, as well as a suggestion to have a creatures topic for the Photo Competition I run on Facebook. After only 18 hours up on Facebook 33 comments made about 1 image. Once again not a world record but goes to show the power of social media. I ran some numbers even though the image only had 33 comments and liked by 8 people it went out to over 3000 people on Facebook, friends and friends of friends. If someone commented on the image then their friends of friends saw it too. No wonder the world has gone Facebook mad.

Happy Shooting

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