5 ways to get more macro out of your backyard

  • caterpillar pictures by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

5 ways to get more macro out of your backyard

I began my macro journey (obsession) last summer.

I always felt like I was getting generic, uninteresting photographs so I developed these tips.

Now, I often find myself going on “Macro Hunts” throughout the week seeing what I can discover.

green macro leaves by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

Garden greens

1. Look around

Often we go for the low hanging fruit – the flowers, the grass, ladybugs – but when you get down on their level, new bugs and special gems begin to appear. I moved a flower tub and found a large frog underneath. I moved a pot of mint and found a snake (I cannot say I really recommend that experience).

macro flower photos by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

Garden flowers

2. Be ready

I keep my macro lens nearby on the mantle. I can’t tell you how many times I have run back inside in a hurry after spotting something. Sometimes I come back to find it gone, sometimes it is still there and I score a shot!

Related: 12 macro photography tips you need to know

yard bugs and pets by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

Frequent yard visitors

3. Be patient

Sometimes the best shots don’t always reveal themselves at first. You can look high and low and not find anything. But sometimes, you need to wait it out. Often times the best finds appear right as I am putting my lens cap on to come inside.

bug macro photos by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

My favorite “last minute” finds


4. Check often

Check back often so you don’t miss out on any visitors. Not only do some subjects show more activity during different times of day, but the lighting changes too.

spider macro by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

A garden spider during three different times of the day

5. Grow it

Why not plant some pretty flowers or plants in your yard; find out what grows well in your area. Some of my favorites are African Daisies and Echinacea as they are beautiful and low maintenance. You can grow beautiful sunflowers for just a few cents a seed, or plan a trip to the nursery. You can also plant host plants for local butterflies and caterpillars. While my husband doesn’t love the garden pests, I don’t mind sharing some dill in exchange for the colorful subjects to shoot. I have milkweed, dill, and grapes in the garden and the caterpillars I encounter are spectacular.

Related: Macro photography without a macro lens

echinacea photos by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

Echinacea–often called coneflower–photographs beautifully and attracts friends


caterpillar pictures by Courtney Rust of Rusty Lens Photography

Eight spotted forester Caterpillar; Blue Swallow Caterpillar; Monarch Butterfly; Cabbage Looper


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About the Author:

Courtney married her physicist version of Good Will Hunting. She ate after midnight and woke up with five children. She earned a BS in mechanical engineering at the University of Alaska and worked oil rigs in the Cook Inlet. She picked up her first camera at 9 and has never stopped shooting. She shoots multi-genre and has a “take it as it is” approach. Visit Courtney Rust online.
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3 Comments

  1. Tamra Aug 24 2015 at 8:19 am - Reply

    I read this just prior to harvesting our garden, and I was inspired to bring my camera along with me. It’s been something I’ve been meaning to do for so long! Thank you!

  2. Juliana Aug 26 2015 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    Beautiful photos! I love all of them, specially the caterpillars! Wow! Could you tell us what lense you used? and if zoom, what focal lenght? thanks!

    • Courtney Sep 20 2015 at 2:06 pm - Reply

      Juliana, Most of these photos were taken with the Nikon 105mm 2.8 lens.

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