Everyday alien creatures: Singapore photographer's stunning shots of South-east Asian spiders

SINGAPORE - Why bother hunting for alien life in outer space, when there's alien life right here?

"They're really all right under our noses," said freelance Singaporean photographer and software engineer Nicky Bay, who has gained attention for his up-close-and-personal shots of spiders in Singapore.

And in all their delicate, iridescent beauty, the spiders really do resemble visitors from another world.

It was in 2008 that Mr Bay, 38, first took up macro photography, which involves large, close-up photographs of extremely small subjects. He soon discovered that spiders make perfect models.

But Mr Bay, who has conducted photography workshops as far afield as Borneo and Belize, bemoaned the fact that larger creatures are more likely to catch shutterbugs' attention.

 

"Most others who go out to nature parks don't notice the wildlife, especially the smaller creatures," he told The Straits Times.

"The problem is, everyone is just walking. They're not stopping to look."


A female Huntsman spider (Gnathopalystes sp.). PHOTO: NICKY BAY

For beginners who fancy themselves budding spider photographers, Mr Bay recommends Venus Drive - the entrance to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve's TreeTop Walk. His advice is to pay attention and get down and dirty to spot the little critters.

He also enjoys taking pictures of tarantulas, but would not disclose where he goes to find them, for fear of unscrupulous poachers.


A male Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.). PHOTO: NICKY BAY

Mr Bay's work has appeared on the National Geographic website and has also been displayed in exhibitions at the National University of Singapore. He currently has photographs on show at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Germany.

Mr Bay is no trained biologist, but has developed a keen interest in his tiny subjects.


A Huntsman spider (Heteropoda boiei). PHOTO: NICKY BAY

"Over the years, I have come to want to learn more about the subjects," he said. "After I observe some, I'll go around asking about them and read up."

He has built relationships with various local arachnologists - or spider experts - and has been commissioned to take scientific photos for their work.


A female Huntsman spider (Heteropoda sp.). PHOTO: NICKY BAY

In fact, Mr Bay said that his pet project is a book on South-east Asian spiders that he has been crafting in collaboration with a Thai arachnologist. But don't hope to buy it in bookstores any time soon, because Mr Bay called it "a never-ending project".

"Every time I find a new spider, it's memorable," he said.

"Like catching Pokemon." But better.