Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Jumping Spider Catches food in mid air

Jumpercatch: 5min approx. A jumping spider captures a lacewing in mid air. Both real and slow motion times are shown. Check it out!

I shot this video actually back in 2005. In it's RAW form it captured something rarely seen and even more rarely captured on video in any way, a jumping spider catching pray in mid air. The Video lasts about 5min. This was totally impromptu, I had no idea she would really catch something. Simply hopeful, I filmed her for about 15mins and ended up getting a shot I never expected. Especially using the gear I was, a Kodak DX7630 with a homemade close-up lens. This video was shot right out side my door on my outside light. I edited it now that I have a good video editing program (something other then Microsoft Movie Maker.. and yeah you gotta pay for it if you want it when it comes to video edit software). With that program I did some quick experiments this time, not only did I cut out most of the boring parts of the video but I did a second take on the capture which shows the spider capturing the lacewing in mid air at 1/10th real-speed. The ability to show you both real speed and "slow-mo", is one of many reasons I chose to finally get a video edit program. I usually keep the topic on photography and the topics of my pictures but here I will make a note, after going through HELL with Microsoft Movie maker in BOTH Windows XP and Windows Vista I looked on line to see if I was not the only one. I found several sites with endless comments way too graphic in language to quote here. It seems, windows movie maker comes with Windows Vista and with Windows XP but is a completely failure program. In other words, its so full of holes that I was unable to even edit the smallest of videos and spent most of my time restarting. One would thing, Bill Gates has the largest personal fortune in the world, something like 25 billion dollars. Enough to make every man woman and child in America a Millionaire without even a downgrade in lifestyle. Yet he won't even ship programs that work! And I tried to find fixes for Microsoft Movie maker, which used to work. Back about 4 years ago. Now days it's been left in Windows Vista but it simply crashes. All reports say it's completely useless. If Microsoft wont' fix the problem with there most basic software, and old Bill just keeps getting richer and richer.. it makes me wonder if he uses his own software. Or does windows movie maker work if I were to buy the full 64bit version for my dual core computer "Windows Vista Professional" or Whatever the f&$%...maybe.. I bet it works in there. Yeah. Sorry, I don't have an extra $500, or is it $1000+?? The fact that Bill Gates got away with selling something that costs 25cents to make for $250+ is bad enough, the fact that the product does not even work for the consumer or the poor and thus semi-pro user is even worse. I wonder if he reads any of the hate mail he gets on line. I really do. There was literally 100s of pages of it on Movie maker alone on one site. But he's the richest man in the world. So he does not care. He does not strike me as being a very humble or generous man. 25 Billion. That's his "personal fortune" last I heard. On paper it's a whole lot more. Considering that 1000 million is 1 billion, that's a difficult number to put into perspective. How Bill Gates can live with himself and act like he does is something I don't and won't ever understand. Imagine having the power to change the world, and not using it. It’s sad. As I said, I usually don’t comment on politics or anything like that on this site, but in this case I just had to say something. If you want a basic and stable Video edit software package around $50-100, Roxio My DVD Video Lab 10 is not a bad choice.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dancing Talking Spider!

The star of this show is the incredible Araneus diadematus

I know what you might be thinking, I used a video edit program to match up the spider's movement to my voice. However, had I have done that.. do you really think that I would have chosen to say what I said. This is RAW footage as you can see from the overexposure. I had no time to set my video mode correctly for this one. Timed exactly and caught on video by accident while I was taking stills with a Kodak camera. I used the video function to show the spider and purely by accident realized that every time I spoke she shook her web and moved her legs! This of course was a response. Spiders do not have ears as we know them, however the slightest of vibrations on there webs or leg hairs can cause them to quickly respond and investigate as it may mean for her.. a meal. When she taps the web, she's using a kind of "sonar" in the web. Females listen for the right sequence of taps on there web made by a male of the correct species. This way they don't get eaten. Before a spider goes for a kill, she will check out as much as possible what she's going for. So in effect, she's sending a "sonar ping" through her web. These taps bounce back differently if anything is in the web. Spiders have an extra ordinary ability to remember things. This same species even shocked the scientific community when they systematically learned how to build webs in 0g orbit and a completely new web-building strategy was needed. They adapted quickly in the Space shuttle and built perfect webs after some trail and error.

She dances to nearly every word I say with her lighting reflexes. This was originally a large video that showed me capturing a spider in my aunts house. I used a new video edit program to add the text and convert it to an internet-compatible file. NO other modifications where made. Not every spider even of this species will do this so on demand. Spiders do have there own personalities there is no question. Usually you can only do this a couple of times before a spider gets wise and afraid climbing or dropping out of the web. This one however, seemed to like to dance to my voice!

An example of the "drop technique" used by many species of spiders. Often used by our hero here, A. diadematus. This is another shot of the same species of spider. This time she's playing dead after having dropped out of her web. A quick defense. It is not a good idea to handle spiders like this however. First off she will roll around in your hand in a ball like that but she may be injured if your not very careful. And last but not least, this is the time when a spider is most likely to bite in self defense. They are not considered dangerous to humans by anyone’s standards, but one should always be careful as you never know about allergies and you should also consider that the spider is a living thing which belongs safe in her web. Outside of it.. she has to build a new one. Catch one too small, and she may not have the energy to rebuild a new one.

Also called the "cross spider" and garden spider. These are among the safest spiders. Although I recomend NEVER handleing spiders, if you were to get bit by this one, the most you would get would be about 1/10th of a bee sting. They are not very agressive and play an important role in insect population control.

Since web builders have such bad eyesight, they almost completely really upon vibrations to tell what kind of pray is in there web and what's going on. If they detect something dangerous, they will not approach, or may even cut it loose. I've seen them pluck objects like dead leaves from there webs without even a test bite. They know what's going on. So in this case, the feel of her web memorized, she's confused by it's vibration when I talk. So she wonders what's going on. Both as a warning to other spiders and to investigate where the vibrations are.. she sends out her "pings" every time I talk. Unable to isolate what direction they are coming from she becomes confused and on guard. I could have kept doing this for a while, but sooner or later she would have tired of it.