Nature Detailed

417 Magazine's Senior Photographer Brandon Alms showcases some of his nature photographer—all taken in his Springfield, Missouri backyard.

by Brandon Alms

Jul 2023

Dandelion against a sunlit backdrop
Photo by Brandon AlmsTake a look at some of the spectacular nature photographer of 417 Magazine Senior Photographer Brandon Alms. Purchase Photo

When it comes to photography, I love it all. While my day job at 417 Magazine consists of photographing subjects such as people, places, food, fashion, events, houses and everything else southwest Missouri has to offer, evenings and weekends are when you might find me photographing nature. It might appear like the photos in this article were all captured in surreal places across the globe, but everything you see here was photographed in my own backyard.

Finding these critters to photograph might feel like an impossible task, but it’s easier than you think. Put out a hummingbird feeder and those tiny little guys will come feed all summer long. Butterfly-friendly plants like milkweed are great for attracting Monarch butterflies. Next thing you know, the Monarchs will mate and lay eggs that will  hatch caterpillars. They will eventually cocoon,  metamorphasize and create new butterflies. All of these different phases are fascinating for me to photograph.

Macro and wildlife photography can be extremely challenging, and that is why I’m so drawn to it. You can coach a model to turn a certain way and look toward the light, but when it comes to animals, it is all a waiting game and really boils down to patience. I’ve sat in uncomfortable positions for an hour waiting for a critter to do something interesting to no avail. It’s the times that I manage to capture a tack sharp image of a hummingbird in flight that make it so rewarding. For me, it’s all about seeing things that you don't get to see every day. Those tiny, microscopic details and pops of color that the human eye doesn't see until you capture it in a camera.

Next time you step out into your backyard, be a little more observant as you never know what you might find hidden in plain sight. An endless supply of photo ops awaits your discovery.

Photos by Brandon AlmsThe monarch butterfly is one of the most recognizable insects on the planet, making them a popular subject for photographers. These two were paired together for a few hours, allowing me to shoot until the warm evening light flooded the scene complementing the orange vibrant tones in their wings. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsNothing makes me think of summer more than those little yellow balls of glowing light in the evenings. To capture a firefly taking off in flight was a big win, capturing it in mid-glow was a bonus! Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsJust a photo of a honeybee, but what inspired me to take this photo was that the bee was the only pop of color amongst all the white flowering bushes. Sometimes less is more, and in this case the perfectly centered clean image was a bee-keeper. Purchase Photo
Jumping spider
Photos by Brandon AlmsYes, most spiders really do have eight eyes. Something I was able to confirm for myself thanks to macro photography. I’m not a huge fan of spiders, but when I spotted this tiny little guy popping out from inside a flower, I had to capture him. Purchase Photo
Dandelion against a sunset
Photos by Brandon AlmsHow do you turn the common weed that everyone tries to avoid having in their yard into art? The setting sun was the key here. I noticed how the sun was creating little orbs of light peeking through the distant trees and framed up the dandelion creating a striking silhouette. This shot ended up being a Photoshop World Guru Awards Finalist in the creative category. Purchase Photo
Ladybug in grass
Photos by Brandon AlmsI often go out in the backyard, put down a yoga mat and lie down with my face level to the grass to see what I might find. On this morning, I spotted the pop of red crawling in the dew-covered grass. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsLook at those chompers! It’s almost as if this grasshopper was smiling for the camera. It’s these kinds of discoveries that I find when shooting macro photography that keep me coming back for more. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsMy two dogs have a certain bark for a squirrel, certain bark for a strange noise, and then there is a very distinct bark for a snake. On this day, I heard that distinct bark and grabbed my camera. Knowing that this was a non-venomous garter snake, I got in as close as I could and fired away. Purchase Photo
Cardinals on a branch
Photos by Brandon AlmsI have strategically placed bird feeders close to branches where birds can perch themselves for the perfect photo op. I had gotten some great shots of the male cardinal alone on this snowy morning and was about to call it a day. Then out of nowhere, the female flew in and helped turn a good shot into a great shot! Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsWhile a milkweed plant is a great host for monarch butterflies, dill is what swallowtail butterflies seem to prefer. This dill plant was crawling with these caterpillars. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsThis Eastern bluebird is the official state bird of Missouri. I don’t see them out and about very often, so I was thrilled when they started coming to my backyard feeders on this snowy winter morning. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsI found that I would have praying mantises lay a cluster of eggs under my back patio table every fall. The following summer, these eggs would hatch and I’d have dozens of these tiny little guys running all around. This hatchling seemed to be soaking up the warmth at sunrise. Shooting into the sun created a stunning silhouette showing off the saw blade–like arms. Purchase Photo
Photos by Brandon AlmsThese tiny 3.5-inch ruby throated hummingbirds are lightning quick and beat their wings 53 times per second! They are frequently seen feeding on hanging flower baskets and hummingbird feeders in my backyard. For this shot, I wanted to avoid the brown privacy fence in the background, so I positioned myself on my belly shooting up toward the glowing backlit leaves for a vibrant clean background. Purchase Photo
Slider Thumbnail: Butterflies
Slider Thumbnail: Firefly
Slider Thumbnail: Bee
Slider Thumbnail: Jumping spider
Slider Thumbnail: Dandelion against a sunset
Slider Thumbnail: Ladybug in grass
Slider Thumbnail: Grasshopper
Slider Thumbnail: Snake
Slider Thumbnail: Cardinals on a branch
Slider Thumbnail: Caterpillars
Slider Thumbnail: Bluebird
Slider Thumbnail: Mantis
Slider Thumbnail: Hummingbird