Canon 30D, handheld
Reversed Sigma 28-105 at f16
1/200 second at ISO 250
Sunpak FP38 flat panel flash w/ diffuser/reflector

Through the keyhole
jumping spider Phidippus within rolled leaf shelter

On a potted plant sitting on the back deck, I found a new structure one afternoon, one of the leaves rolled up and secured with webbing. I knew the approximate timeframe when it had occurred, since it had not been present less than a day earlier when I'd last observed the plant, so I knew something had created a new shelter for itself. Seeing down the open end was easy, and photographing it not much harder.

This female jumping spider, probably genus Phidippus, had pulled the leaf into a cylinder and tacked it in place, most likely to serve as a repository for eggs. She showed no distinctive concern over my looming very close for the shot; while appearing wide-eyed here, spiders always look like that, and if you notice, she is cleaning the tip of a foreleg in her mouth, going about her business without displaying any alertness or agitation. I was so close, however, that the flash unit on its macro bracket wasn't aiming down the tube, but shining directly through the leaf from upper right, giving a green pallor to the reflections seen in her eyes. I'm sorry I wasn't able to see her constructing the shelter – I'm fairly certain that I'd spotted her on the plant several hours earlier. It's one of those things where I start thinking that I might have witnessed the task had I hung around patiently, but it's unlikely that it would have worked anyway; with my looming presence, she probably would have avoided tackling the project until she felt safer. Still, it's always among my goals to photograph such actions in detail.