I found this beauty outside my local Kohl’s store. It was dark, but I had parked under a light near one of those little shrubbery-covered islands with the curb around them. (What are those things called, anyway? Shrubbery islands, I guess.)
I wanted to photograph the spider because two friends of mine had, a few months ago, found such a spider in their house, had captured it and photographed it as well as they could through a Ziploc bag, and had posted the photos on their respective Facebook pages with a plea for information. (It was revealing of their personalities that one of my friends wrote “THIS IS THE BIGGEST FUCKING SPIDER I HAVE EVER SEEN” on her Facebook page while the other one simply but eloquently wrote “This thing. What???”) I was pretty sure theirs was a wolf spider, and I knew this one was.*
For once, I had my camera bag in the car. The wolf spider was near my car door, so I wanted to proceed cautiously. Wolf spiders can move pretty damn fast. They can’t jump, but something in the limbic area of my brain persists in believing that they can. Besides, darting doesn’t differ much from jumping, if a large spider is darting in your general direction. To assess the situation, I tapped my foot on the curb a safe distance away. The spider stayed put. I then made an awkward kicking motion (which I hope no one saw) toward the spider, and it still stayed put. So I edged the quarter near it for scale.
Since the spider remained motionless—either dying or depressed, I figured—I got braver with my shots. Finally I put the camera on super macro mode, which required putting the lens scarily close to the spider. But I was emboldened by its apparent indifference. I recently bought a little Fuji X10, a very capable retro-looking point-and-shoot with a bright lens and lots of controls, and that’s what I used here. The image needed a little lightening and a little sharpening, and I cropped it.
It’s fortunate for me that I prefer abstracts and semi-abstracts for my “serious” photography work. Several of my friends excel at wildlife photography, and I admire their work greatly. I don’t have the patience to do it myself, however. I hate using tripods, and my weak hands don’t like dealing with the weight of long lenses either. But those are mostly excuses; I simply lack the talent for photographing wildlife, just as I lack the talent for leading a wild life. This is as close as I get on both counts, and it’s good enough for me.
* Wrong again! I have now seen a much better picture of my friends’ arachnid, and it was in fact an orb weaver. They have assured me that it was much bigger and much scarier than my wolf spider. B. swears it was as big as her face. This seems hard to credit, but okay. It’s also possible that one’s perception of spider size is at least slightly influenced by whether said spider is outside where it belongs or inside one’s house.