Cover Shot, June 2020 – Outdoor Photographer

The June 2020 issue of Outdoor Photographer highlights the work of photographers using their images to help wildlife and conservation efforts.

When Australia faced unprecedented wildfires during this past year, Doug Gimesy turned his lens toward documenting the efforts of Australian forest and wildlife officials and private citizens to rescue koalas from the devastation of their habitat. In his article, “Koala Rescue,” Gimesy shares photographs that transport us to the scene and offer a message of hope, revealing the best of human nature in times of trouble. Environmental disaster and rescue photography can be a dangerous business, so it’s not for everyone, but if you might be so inclined to pursue it, Gimesy outlines how to prepare yourself, stay safe in the field, and process what can be at times a traumatic, yet ultimately rewarding, experience.

As a native Australian, Gimesy focused on a subject close to home, and that’s something we can all do as photographers to further awareness for wildlife conservation and enjoyment where we live. Emma Balunek, a student at Colorado State University, discovered her neighbor the prairie dog and learned of its importance to the prairie ecosystem, as well as the challenge it faces due to land development and agriculture. “Agriculture and ranching are important livelihoods in the Great Plains,” Balunek observes, “but consideration should be given to a balance between agriculture and conservation.” Rather than using extermination methods, which Balunek notes “have extremely low success rates,” professional biologists and volunteers are working to relocate prairie dog colonies. Balunek got involved to tell the story of the prairie dog through her photography, to help illustrate that our needs and those of the wildlife on which ecosystems depend can both be met if we work to find a balance.

Like Balunek, Sara Stein is another young photographer looking for wildlife subjects near her home—in an unexpected place. A resident of Southern California, one of the most sprawling urban areas on the planet, Stein became aware of a world of wildlife hiding in plain sight among the tangle of freeways and shopping centers and millions of people. In “Finding Urban Wildlife,” Stein tells how she began to seek out local wildlife, leading her to a nearby wetland that provides sanctuary for numerous photogenic species. Stein shares practical tips for success that she’s learned along the way.

Also in this issue is a special feature that’s particularly applicable at the present moment when we’re looking for ways to be creative with our photography at home. Many photographers make at least some of their income through print sales in what has become an increasingly saturated market. In “Beyond The Traditional Print,” Lisa Langell presents insights for distinguishing your work with prints that will appeal to collectors and interior decorators—or be perfect for “that” spot in your home. Langell’s approach is a combination of high-key capture and processing paired with premium printmaking and bespoke mounting. While the combination of styles is her own, we hope her techniques will inspire you to take those extra steps that elevate a file in your image library to a special artwork for many to enjoy.

On the cover is one of Langell’s high-key images. Here’s the story behind the shot.

“This vintage-styled image of a bison was inspired on a drizzly day in Yellowstone National Park right near Yellowstone Lake. The light was perfect for high-key photography, and the bison’s coat collected the wet rain like a sponge, emphasizing the textures so beautifully and enhancing the contrast needed for this style of image.

“I was at a unique position so as to be able to photograph the bison at ground level, which gave better positioning for a connection between the animal and viewer of the image. I’m always watchful for bison and their unpredictable behavior. The reach of my long lens allowed me to get a close-up perspective for the shot and remain low to the ground at a safe distance.

“What inspired me for the antique look in this image is the texture, color, simplicity and weathered appearance of the print—much like the bison itself. Photographing and processing images of wildlife in a vintage style creates a nostalgic impression that reminds me of the beautiful artwork, sketches and paintings from old printed field guides. I love that style and the feeling it evokes and have found that it’s not just me—images with high-key styles, simple compositions and negative space appeal to collectors, too.

“High-key photography, with its unnaturally white or bright elements and a reduced contrast ratio, can be an exciting technique to try as you build your portfolio. Weather conditions and times of days that we don’t think of as “ideal” for most nature photography—shooting at midday or under drab, overcast skies, for example—are perfect for high-key shots.”

–Lisa Langell

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

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