Outdoor Photographer is the essential how-to and where-to magazine for the outdoor photographer. I would recommend it for all levels of photographic skill, although most discussions of technique are suited to intermediate to advanced skill levels. There is only occasional discussion of the most basic techniques, as would benefit beginners. There are, however, so many great ideas on where and what to photograph that I think beginners can get a lot out of the magazine as well. And you won't be a beginner for long. The "outdoor" in the title does not refer exclusively to nature photography. Most of the magazine is dedicated to nature photography,but there are frequent articles on travel, location, and other sorts of outdoor photography, as well.
In Outdoor Photographer you will find how-to articles on lighting, exposure, filters, gear, preparing yourself and your gear for the elements -be they arctic cold or rain forest heat and humidity, along with some advice specifically for digital cameras and the digital darkroom. And you will find this information for everything from close-up to landscape photography. Outdoor photographer focuses primarily on 35 mm and digital photography, with an occasional article on medium format. The discussions of exposure, lighting and locations are applicable to all formats of photography, however. And there is George Lepp's monthly question and answer column for those questions on just about any photographic or digital imaging subject that are not answered elsewhere.
And now for the best part. Outdoor Photographer tells you where to get great outdoor photographs. "Favorite Places" is a one-page feature in every issue that tells you about a great place in the United States to photograph, what there is to see, and what time of the year is best. Be sure to save those in case you ever have the time and means to visit them all. In addition to "Favorite Places" there are featured articles in every issue that detail a place to photograph, how to get there, what to take, what to photograph, etc., frequently written by well-known nature photographers and accompanied by some of their terrific photographs. I counted 3 such articles in the last issue of OP that I received. If you are a photographer or hobbiest who is able to travel a lot, Outdoor Photographer is a terrific bargain just for the locations. And if you don't travel much, it will help you photograph your backyard and local parks and gardens well.
on December 31, 2002
I have looked at many photography magazines - many of them are just filled with ads....not what an amateur is looking for. I wanted indepth articles, helpful tips and information to help me improve my craft. I found it here. I read every issue cover to cover and back again. I find helpful information in every issue. I highly recommend this magazine - even if you aren't purely an "outdoor" photographer.
on September 4, 2009
I've been an "Outdoor Photographer" subscriber for many years and have watched the magazine slide steadily downhill. My current subscription expires in December and I won't be renewing for 2010. The latest renewal price from the publisher is $21.97 (a heck of a way to reward loyal subscribers)!
More than most photo mags, OP blurs the line between editorial content and advertising. The lack of objectivity is even more evident in their placement of paid ads -- in most cases, directly adjacent to the article that cites the product or service!
Having worked in the publishing industry (trade magazines), I know from experience that the needs of the readers are always secondary to the needs of advertisers, but OP has gone too far. I dropped "Popular Photography" last year for much the same reason. I currently subscribe to "Digital Photo Pro" and "Photoshop User," as well as many photo-related websites and blogs.
Save your money to travel and create new photo opportunities!
on October 16, 2007
I let my original subscription run out without renewing, ignoring their numerous requests to sign up for another year. The publisher, Werner Publishing, sent my account to a collection agency, despite the fact that I had not purchased anything, nor said that I would renew the subscription. They sent me a threatening letter saying they were trying to collect a debt, and that "full payment is expected." When I called the agency, they even had a phone menu option for stating that you never renewed the magazine, showing clearly that this is a well-known, standardized process.
This tactic of harassing people and frightening them into coughing up $14.97 for a magazine renewal is unconscionable. They need to be held accountable for using this scare technique as part of their regular business practice. This publisher also publishes such magazines as PC Photo and Digital Photo Pro. At a minimum, they caused me to waste a fair amount of my time correcting the problem.
It's a shame, too, because the magazine is well-written, has great photography, and decent equipmnent reviews. Some outstanding photographers write here. However, their efforts are ruined by their terrible publisher. Do not support these harassment tactics. For a mere $14.97, they've permanently lost a customer, and I hope others as well.
on October 22, 2009
As an enthusiastic hobbyist photographer I was eager to subscribe to Outdoor Photographer. Especially given the fact that I got an e-mail offering a special annual promotional subscription rate to it from Amazon.
Well, I had the same experience that other reviewers here have stated. Only worse! I didn't even get to the subscription processing stage! I was notified that Outdoor Photographer canceled my order because they wouldn't honor the promotion.
I'm going back to only buying 1-2 issues/year in my favorite brick & mortar bookstore.
Stay away from this publisher and its publication subscriptions. Maybe if they're boycotted they'll smart up about how to serve their customer base...
on June 23, 2008
What a load - my subscription ran out and I get a notice from a collection agency threatening me if I didn't pay them for a subscription I didn't renew. This a month after my previous subscription expired. Werner publishing, also the publishers of Digital Photo Pro, PC photo and numerous other useless golf and video rags, seem to think this is the way to build customers. If you're tired of big companies messing with you, don't bother with this magazine. Even if it was free, it is little more than a glossy shill for the advertisers who pay to advertise.
For a fun game, try and find one negative review of a product from an advertiser that has a full page ad in the same issue. Good luck!
As echoed in other reviews, Outdoor Photographer is a magazine that caters to its advertisers. When I started it, it did seem better than most photography magazines, and I have found that there is some value to its articles.
However, now 2 years later, I find that its articles are lacking substance. How-to-articles turn out to be more advertisements for specific products. The underlying content and background information is rarely developed enough to be useful for photographers that probably have a medium level of expertise.
I know many people like a black-box approach, but as a photographer I do like to know how the software is getting me from point A to point B. There is often more to photography and editing software than the default settings. Only in rare instances does Outdoor Photographer get there.
The more useful features of the magazine turn out to be the on-location type articles and articles by specific photographers describing the background for specific photos. The magazine does show many beautiful photos, and it is nice to have a general idea of the conditions that led to those photos.
The advertising can get a bit old, and the reviews often feel like nothing more than extended advertising.
The reason I knock it to 3 stars and suggest only a year or two is that the magazine seems to repeat topics in its articles once a year or two. How many times do we need to see generic articles about how to shoot black and white photography. I'd almost rather see a lot more photos. I also get a bit tired of travel articles seemingly covering the same locations quite frequently. In 2011, the Patagonia region in Argentina seems to be the hip place to talk about. It does look beautiful, but as an outdoor photography magazine, there are a lot more places in the world that could and should be covered.
Overall, it isn't a horrible magazine as it is a step up from some photography magazines that seem like catalogs of products, but it could be better (not sure any photography magazine is). It may be nice for a year or so, and it could be best for people who are new to landscape photography, especially new dSLR users.
on November 21, 2014
I have subscribed to the hard copy version of Outdoor Photographer since the very beginning, way back in 1987, or so. The reason that I subscribed for so long was due to Galen Rowell's excellent column (I believe it was called "Photo Adventure"). Galen's writing was as vivid as the photos that he took, so I couldn't wait until the next issue showed up in my mailbox.
When Galen and Barbara passed away, I continued to subscribe, because it was like an automated reflex, so I continue to get the magazine until this day (2014). However because I'm a long-time subscriber, don't think I'm in love with the magazine; I think there are a lot of shortcomings, and plenty and room for improvement.
Most of the photography is wonderful and the cover photos are colorful (perhaps too colorful). Most of the photos contained on the cover, and within, are what I call "Kinkaded" photos (after the late, popular painter, Thomas Kinkade), in that the color and light are so unbelievable, it doesn't even approach reality. So okay, they are not literal photographs of the scene, they are "digital art" and an interpretation, so there's the escape clause. As photographers we are supposed to be creative, should we not strive to create our own, unique interpretations of the world, rather than crank out the same photo-shopped photos that everyone else cranks out?
Also over the years, ever since the beginning of the magazine the editorial work has been a little rough. I have read so many articles over the years, where the author refers to a photograph, and that photograph is no where to be found in the magazine. Huh, what's up with that? Doesn't anyone proof read the article before the magazine gets printed?!!
Perhaps, the biggest gripe I have with the magazine, is that it is clearly devoted to selling photo gear...it is a gear-selling rag. Every year, they have articles like, "The Best Wide- Angle Lenses", "What to Shop for in a Tripod", "Be Like Ansel Adams", etc.. Yes, one cannot take photos without gear, but to overwhelming concentrate on that narrow topic is myopic. I have read so many articles where an author writes about how they have used a new device in creating a photo, then as if by magic, at the end of that article, there is an advertising for that new device...what a coincidence!
All the photographer's woes are not solved by a new piece of gear...that would be way too easy on photographers, (buy a new device, and walla! the problem is solved). I have long said that photo gear is only 5% of a photographer's problem in making a great photo, the bigger issue for photographers is composition, inspiration, seeing the light, is more important (and these can't be bought in a store).
There are many folks that say they are "outdoor photographers", but in reality they are "gear collectors", and indeed perhaps the majority engaged in this hobby, or profession, are gear collectors, so the magazine's bent toward gear buying is right up their alley. I do not consider myself a "gear collector", so I make do with the magazine for so long, by over looking the gear-oriented articles and concentrating on the technical how-to articles, and creative inspiration articles.
Recently, I have became annoyed at the magazine in that I can find the articles on-line, before I even get my issue in the mail...there really is no advantage in subscribing anymore. Now there are many more outdoor photography magazines, than when Outdoor Photographer debuted in the late 80's, perhaps it is time to consider these other magazines.
on September 20, 2008
Well, I'm 5 issues into my subscription, and I have to say that, so far, I'm not very impressed. I really wanted to like this magazine, but I just don't. The photographs contained within its pages are wonderful, breathtaking even. But that's about it. There is usually one article that's semi-helpful, and the rest is just ads, or articles that read like ads, for the latest camera gear or processing software. The writers are more like cheerleaders for the newest gadgets that they feel you simply must buy. No critical reviews, no head-to-head comparisons...nothing. Even the tips and advice articles are just basic stuff that can easily be found on the internet. Needless to say, I won't be renewing my subscription.
on January 1, 2012
The purpose of this magazine is to sell you gear, most of which is gimmicky crap you don't need. With the amount of advertising contained it really should be free.
If you're looking for great landscape photos you can find better work online for free. I'm not against improving photographs in software, but I strongly dislike the photos "featured" in this magazine. Take any landscape photo cliche, over saturate it, and voila, you've got the cover photo.
If you're interested in improving your technique, know there is only one or two "how to" articles per issue. You can find better information online for free. Most of it boils down to buying good lenses, a circular polarizer, optionally graduated neutral density and gradient filters, and shoot at dawn or dusk. Learning light and technique will improve your photos more than all the gear. If you're still shooting on auto more gear is not the answer. You can do a lot with one or two lenses and a circular polarizer.
Almost every issue has an article on Ansel Adams. This filler gets old quickly and it isn't presented in a particularly relevant way.
If your main interest is buying and playing with gear, you may enjoy shopping the ads. Otherwise save your money and go shoot.