Cover Shot, September 2020

Fall will soon be upon us with its shorter days, moody weather and stunning foliage color, changes that remind us of nature’s clockwork and that make this a favorite time of year for photographers. Our September issue is focused on helping you make your best images of the season. In his article, “Fall Color Fundamentals,” Kevin McNeal shares his top tips to capture the bold hues and atmosphere of the season, as well as recommended destinations for autumn photography.

Also in this issue, Jonathan Irish introduces us to the idea of “Dancing Around The Teacup,” a concept he picked up while working as a photographer for National Geographic. The core idea is to explore a variety of creative approaches to a subject or scene and not simply settle for a photograph of your first observations.

At the foundation of every successful photograph is an awareness of light. We recognize good light when we see it—but translating what’s in front of our lenses to a final image is the challenge. In the first article of a three-part series, “The Art Of Luminosity,” Marc Muench explains the limitations of digital camera sensors and methods for overcoming those limitations.

On the cover is a photograph Kevin McNeal made in Denali National Park, Alaska. Here’s the story behind the shot.

Image of the cover of Outdoor Photographer's September 2020 issue

“I had always dreamt of photographing Alaska and, more specifically, Denali National Park in autumn. As a child, I had seen images of the larger-than-life mountain. I realized from research on Denali that the peak didn’t always make an appearance. It wasn’t unusual to not see the mountain for several weeks. Armed with this knowledge, I promised not to get my hopes too high.

“As I entered the Wonder Lake campground, the outdoor enthusiasts I met were disenchanted, as the mountain had not been out in weeks. Early that next morning, I woke to the sounds of joyous shouts that the mountain had emerged. I joined the lucky few other photographers as we made our way to the ridge above Wonder Lake. As first light appeared, I saw the first glimpses of the elusive Denali Peak and the dazzling display of red autumn tundra at my feet. The warm bearberry carpeted the valley as far as the eye could see.

“When the morning light surfaced and showcased the autumn colors, I searched for a composition that would do justice to the majestic scene. I positioned myself at the top of the ridge and framed the view to include Wonder Lake leading into Denali mountain. I made sure to capture various compositions and shoot at ƒ/16 for depth of field and lowered the camera to a 45° angle to get closer to the fall foliage. I wanted to create an impact with the foreground color and texture. Having a colorful foreground brought the image together more cohesively. The icing on the cake was the captivating clouds that balanced the overall scene. It was an autumn morning I shall not forget.”

– Kevin McNeal

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

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