Find the Right Light Friday – Spider Web

By Lane Erickson

“The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web.” – Edwin Way Teale

It’s time once again for my weekly installment of Find the Right Light Friday where I post one image I’ve created where I feel I was able to capture something special. My goal is to describe the process of how the image was created. 

This week we focus on the arachnoid genius’ creation: the spider web. 

The Setting

If you follow my blog or have read any of the posts I’ve written lately you’ll know that recently my wife and I drove through Yellowstone National Park (September 2019). I had high expectations on creating some very specific images. Most of these did not turn out the way I had hoped, although, I was able to create other images that I hadn’t planned on. 

This experience is what led to my article: 3 Things Great Photographers Do When Their Plans Get Derailed. It’s also what led to today’s FTRLF image. 

The Idea

Yellowstone National Park was far more crowded than I had anticipated. In fact, I’d planned to go to several locations to create images that I could tell right away wasn’t going to work. So, I decided to go to lesser known areas.  

At Madison Junction, rather than turn right at the intersection to head towards Old Faithful like everyone else, I turned left. The golden morning sunlight was all around and I knew I needed to find something to photograph before the amazing light was gone. 

About a quarter mile’s drive north is Terrace Spring, with a boardwalk surrounding the spring. 

This particular morning was cold. Steam rose from Terrace Spring sometimes blowing past the boardwalk in the morning breeze. 

As my wife and I explored the area that’s when I saw them. Hanging underneath the railing on the boardwalk were many spiderwebs. The steam had coated them in moisture which had frozen in the cold air. 

The Image

At just the right angle, the morning sun backlit the spider webs. I also found that if I moved around, a dark section of pine trees in shadow would be the background. I used my Fuji X-T1 camera, and the awesome Fuji XF55-200mmF3.5-4.8 R LM OIS lens. I also used the flip screen on the back of the camera like a waist-level viewfinder to compose the image.

Here is the image I was able to create.

Spider web with drops of dew hanging from wood railing against a dark background

My exposure was ISO 200, 1/30, at f/8. The optical image stabilization (OIS) saved the day because I was zoomed out to about 140mm, which is normally too much magnification for a 1/30 shutter speed.  However, the OIS handled it perfectly and I have several sharp images.   

As a photographer, things rarely go as planned. When everything seems to come unraveled we just need to keep on trucking, because great light and great images are all around us if we just open our eyes to see them.  

Always open to comments, I welcome your thoughts, suggestions and even your critiques. Have a great Friday and best wishes in finding the right light for your own photographs.

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