Te Papa’s Natural Environment team have recently been putting a lot of effort into photographing their collection of spiders and putting the images up on Collections Online for you to view. I thought it was time to showcase some of this fantastic imagery.
Phil Sirvid, Collection Manager Entomology, said the primary objective for this photography is to document our type specimen collection for everyone to see. When someone describes a new species, they pick one specimen from all those they’ve examined to be the type for that species. That specimen is the one to which the new species name is attached so it’s like a gold standard for the species. When researchers from overseas want to borrow type specimens, New Zealand law requires an export permit for the specimens to leave the country. However, our high quality images of type specimens may show researchers everything they need to see so when this happens there’s no need to lend the specimen. If we don’t have to send the specimen there’s no risk of loss or damage to it and there’s no need to get an export permit.
Of course, these images are not only of interest to specialist researchers. In many cases, type specimens have not been fully illustrated or photographed before now. Our images give everyone a chance to get a highly detailed look at a variety of animals that most people have never seen.
By no means are these spiders easy to photograph, partly because of their size. Te Papa uses the technique of extended depth of field photography to do this. Interested in how Te Papa took these images? Check out the Tales from Te Papa episode about extended depth of field photography.
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Manager Picture Library