Cover Shot, November 2020

The November 2020 issue of Outdoor Photographer is dedicated to the fine art of black-and-white photography, with pro techniques and portfolios to inspired your creativity when shooting in monochrome.

In our feature story “Writing With Light,” renown black-and-white photographer John Sexton shares with us a selection of previous unpublished monochrome images shot on Polaroid film. Sexton takes us back to a time in the art and science of photography when Polaroid films were primarily used for making instant proofs of an image prior to exposing the final negative. For Sexton, though—and many who worked with Polaroid films—there was something special about the medium beyond the “instant” proofing capabilities. Sexton refers to the “intimate, jewel-like quality of an original Polaroid instant print” and how working with Polaroid helped shape his approach to photography early in his career.

Choosing between color and monochrome expression for a given subject is subjective, but Aaron Baggenstos proposes several situations in which black and white may be the better option for wildlife photography in his article “When To Choose Black & White.” While color is the obvious choice for wildlife images, especially for colorful subjects, monochrome can be a compelling alternative in some situations and may help you overcome technical challenges as well, as Baggenstos explains.

Also in this issue is the final article in our three-part series “The Art of Luminosity” by Marc Muench. In the previous articles, Muench covered the fundamentals of digital imaging and how light is captured by our cameras, along with advice for learning to interpret and expose the light in a scene and use it creatively. In part three, Muench introduces us to his approach when processing images in Lightroom. 

On the cover is a photograph of a brown bear made by Aaron Baggenstos in Katmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska. Here’s the story behind the shot.

Cover of Outdoor Photographer November 2020 issue

“In June 2017, I was leading my Ultimate Alaska photo tour when inclement weather grounded us in Homer for an extra night. Our intended destination was Katmai National Park & Preserve, a designated wilderness where about 2,200 brown bears roam in an unaltered, natural habitat, making Katmai one of the premier brown bear viewing venues in the world. In fact, Katmai contains the world’s largest protected brown bear population; it’s a place where more bears roam the peninsula than people who live there—one of my favorite places on earth.

“The following day was encouraging. We set flight through mixed rain and fog, weaving in and out of clouds and mist alongside volcanos and mountain peaks, with occasional glimpses of the breathtaking mountain scenery below. On arrival, our skiff picked us up from our floatplane as the heavens drenched us with heavy rain. Despite the downpour, outfitted in our rain gear, we headed out for an afternoon shoot of about one hour where we sighted only a solitary bear high on a hill…no great photos.

“Then I spotted a beautiful brown bear on the beach. I estimated the path of the bear and quickly positioned my group about 75 yards ahead up the shoreline. (An experienced naturalist bear guide was with us to ensure safe encounters.) We laid down in a row on the rocky shore to be below the bear’s eye level, trying to achieve a larger-than-life perspective. Clicking rapidly, I suddenly realized the bear was completely filling the horizontal frame of my 600mm lens, so I flipped to portrait mode to make this image just before the bear turned and walked away from us, into the distance.

“We were overwhelmed with the opportunity to capture this incredible encounter, despite the severity of the conditions. The lesson is that regardless of weather, there are images to be made—you miss 100 percent of attempts you don’t make.”

–Aaron Baggenstos

The November 2020 issue is now available in a variety of digital formats including Apple News+.

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