Top positive review
13 people found this helpful
Great photographic book, and informative too!
on 27 April 2012
When I was compiling a `Christmas List' a couple of years ago I stumbled upon a new book about spiders. As you may know there are relatively few books that give good information for the non-scientific community regarding spiders in Europe. I have in the past recommended two books particularly: The Private Life of Spiders - a photographic book with excellent overview and more detailed information on particular international spiders; and the Collins Field Guide - Spiders of Britain and Northern Europe - which is blooming marvellous, if a little densely technical for casual readers.
Having spent a little Christmas money and even splashing out on First Class delivery I am jolly pleased to say that I have a further recommendation for any budding spider enthusiasts out there.
Here's the review...
Stephen Dalton is an experienced wildlife photographer, particularly praised for his macro photography, including insects in flight. His wife enrolled him on a spider course, partly due to his fear of spiders, since he was bitten at the age of four. He became fascinated with these miniature predators and shortly after decided that the range of hunting techniques employed by spiders would form an interesting new photographic book.
As such, this book is divided into sections, the first and last being a brief introduction to spiders, and a useful guide to spider photography. The remainder of the book (nearly 200 pages) is devoted to beautiful photographic spreads of particular species and an enjoyably written description of each species pictured, covering its habits, habitat, characteristics and locations where they can be found.
Each chapter covers a different type of hunting method and depicts some spiders that demonstrate that ability. While these divisions are not scientific, they do certainly make it accessible to those newer to the subject.
The pictures themselves are of course the main draw here, and Stephen is a superb photographer. They are clear, crisp and expertly lit, top-notch in terms of artistic talent. They also serve well for identification purposes, although that is certainly not the primary aim here.
I was concerned, however, that the text would be somewhat basic or error-prone as the author is essentially an amateur. This fear was completely unfounded. Stephen writes well and the information is very good and based on several years of enthusiastic searching alongside an expert on spiders. I found only one mention of poison, where venom was meant (I'm hardly going to quibble regarding that), and there was one page on a species that seemed to accompany pictures of another (very closely related) species [Segestria senoculata, rather than the mentioned Segestria florentina].
I have to highly recommend this very entertaining and beautiful photo-book. Well worth £12 or so.