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I don't really claim to be a very good photographer - most of my efforts fall into the "good snaps" category - but I like to think I know a good photograph when I see one. In fact trying to take your own shots is the only way to really appreciate a good photograph, and how much thought and skill has gone into its creation. There are a number of photography magazines that have been on the shelves for many years - Amateur Photographer and Practical Photography being two that spring to mind (the latter being a particular favourite of mine). I never buy photography magazines for myself - my wife always brings them home for me. So when she came home about six months ago with a new magazine she'd found called Outdoor Photography I was interested to see what it was like. The photography magazine market has, not surprisingly, been taken over recently by oodles of magazines on digital photography. So it was nice, I thought, that the publishers of Outdoor Photography (OP) had decided to strike off in completely the opposite direction - OP is dedicated to a particular branch of photographic subject... regardless of whether its taken on film or digitally. So what's it like? OP focuses on two main areas of photography: landscape (or scenic) photography, and wildlife photography. It also covers a few other areas, such as macro photography, from time to time. The magazine is broken into four sections: - Viewpoints - Features and Techniques - Regulars - Tests The “Viewpoints” section always consists of ten two page articles about places or subjects that make a particularly good photograph. Each “Viewpoint” features one main photograph, and the main editorial section describes how the photograph came about – how it was taken, the circumstances, the techniques used etc. In addition, each “Viewpoint” features a couple more photos, a chunk of facts about the place/subject
, and a “Planning” section – telling you what to take, when to go, where to stay, the nearest pub etc. To give you a feel for it, the August 2001 issue contains Viewpoints” on: - The Moray Firth Coast - Worm’s Head (Gower Peninsula) - Arinagour (Isle of Coll, Scotland) - Margate Sands - The Roaches (Derbyshire) - Grimsby Fishdock - Plockton (Scotland) - The Sound of Jura - Derwent Edge (Derbyshire) - Swillbrook Lakes (near Swindon) I always find the Viewpoints interesting and inspiring. The photos are excellent, and it’s fascinating to read about how they were taken. The “Features and Techniques” section contains quite a few articles (eight or so) on a wide variety of subjects. Again, to give you a feel for it, the August 2001 issue has articles on: - Aerial photography - How to use neutral density graduated filters - Eriskay ponies - Scottish ferries - Taking wildlife photos in your back garden - Moths - Scotland’s ancient forests - Making backgrounds less obtrusive through digital manipulation Told you it was a wide variety! Articles are never huge (2-4 pages, usually) but always contain excellent photos and expert advice. The “Regulars” section contains the usually stuff – news, letters, how to subscribe, plus a few other regular articles such as “Travelogue” – about Yellowstone National Park in the August 2001 issue (a place that holds great fondness in my heart, as it happens – go there! But that’s a subject for another op). Finally “Tests” contains the usual photo magazine reviews, but in addition contains review for other bits of kit that the outdoor photographer will need – Gortex jackets, gloves, tents etc. OP is printed on good quality paper and the photos are reproduced well. I think this is very important for a photography
magazine. You can economise for magazines on other subjects, but not photography! The editorial style is relaxed and informal, but is clearly written by experienced photographers who know their stuff and love their work. Availability is a bit of an issue, unfortunately. Some shops stock it, others don’t. If you don’t see it in your local newsagents, you’ll have to shop around a bit. This is a shame really. To conclude: if you’re a photographer who’s bored of the same old articles in Amateur Photographer, and you fancy a change, try OP. If you’re a photographer who takes a fair amount of scenic photos – why haven’t you bought this before?? And if you just like taking snaps… well try it anyway – it’s a great relaxing read, and might inspire you to greater things!