Black Jumping Spider with White Spots
Sam caught this jumping spider for me shortly after I finished the flash concentrator for the 2:1 macro lens combination. This made it possible for me to get some decent face shots that show its huge eyes and surprised expression
You can see that in addition to the big eyes up front, there are also a couple of smaller eyes looking to the side.
I ended up getting a lot of pictures of that expressive, intent face. Incidentally, I think that the black circle in the center of the eye is the reflection of the end of my camera lens, and the white around it is the reflection of the light coming from the flash concentrator cone. Overall, it gives the impression that the eye has a pupil.
Unfortunately, I spent so much time getting pictures of the face that I neglected to get many pictures of the dorsal side, which is why the picture of the abdomen is a bit blurry. I was looking at it from an angle where the abdomen and head were not at the same distance, and I was focused on the head.
This could possibly be the same species as the one I posted back in early April, given that this one has had a chance to molt at least once since the end of the winter and still has all of its hair. However, I think it is a different species, because the previous one lacked the white line under the eyes and across the forehead and was more elongated, while this one lacks the two white dots at the rear of the cephalothorax and is more “stocky”. It could also be closely related to this one, which has a very similar size and build, but the color scheme is quite different.
Which is a rather roundabout way of saying that I don’t know which genus of jumping spider this is. The Salticidae are a big family, and like a lot of spiders the easily-visible variations within a species are larger than the easily-visible variations between species. As a result, even experts don’t like to try to identify the species from photographs alone, they pretty much want to have the specimen in hand to look at it under a microscope. I posted it on bugguide, and nobody there is going out on a limb to identify the genus either, so I guess I’m stuck. I do like jumping spiders, though. They are such cute little fellers.
 Just for the sake of comparison, here’s the quality of jumping-spider picture that I was able to manage back in August of 2007, when I was still just starting out. This was using a Canon A95 point-and-shoot camera, with an add-on reversed 50mm SLR lens for magnification, mounted on a microscope stand for stability, and using desk lamps for lighting:
I guess the combination of better equipment + better light + better idea of just what I’m doing does make a difference to the quality of the picture after all. Incidentally, there is one piece of equipment that was the same between the two sets of pictures: they both used the add-on reversed 50mm SLR lens for increased magnification.
 The difficulty of identifying down to species bothers me sometimes. There is a real possibility that I will photograph (or, maybe, already have photographed) an undescribed species, and I will never know it because I don’t know what to look for to prove it. Thomas Say and his contemporaries had a big advantage over people like me, because they were coming into a pristine continent where it was pretty much a given that anything that you found was probably an undescribed species. 
 “Try inventing something these days, why don’t you? All the easy stuff has been done already!” – The Mother of Invention, from “Leonardo da Vinci and his Fightin’ Genius Time Commandos”