Photography Magazines… Separating the BS from the Baloney

aurora borealis, northern lights, Dan Jurak, Alberta, snow, winter,

And they say the internet is bad. Supposedly when you read something in print on paper it’s going to be more accurate than what you read on the internet. After all, everyone can have a voice on the net. Look at me. LOL

I just read the latest copy of my favourite outdoor photographer magazine. I won’t name it but you can probably guess which one it is. It doesn’t matter because I see the same thing repeated over and over in various publications.

Magazines might seem like they are there for your education or entertainment and to a point they are but they exist primarily to drive revenue. That means attracting advertisers. By comparison to most magazines, how many advertisements do you see in Consumer Reports? Yeah. That many.

Many articles in photography magazines exist to attract advertisers. Seldom do you see a critical word put to ink. By comparison, bloggers who tend not to be mainstream media types usually but not always have nothing to lose by being honest and by that I mean being critical of a product. Print is losing ground to electronic media. I find more interesting and insightful information on the net than I do in the magazine store.

Want an example of an advertorial or editorial that is meant to sell product and that is to my way of thinking a complete waste of money? In the magazine I mention above is a spread on how to protect your camera from the snow? Huh? There is a picture accompanying the article of some sort of apparatus with a glove like back for you to stick your hand in. The premise of the protective cover is this, fine snow is like sand that can get into your camera or lens and ruin it? Absolute BS. I spend half of my life lying in snow drifts waist deep and have never had any kind of problem with the dreaded SNOW DAMAGE. Maybe my snow is different than what they have in California where this magazine was published? If so, I take back what I said. Another thing? The size of hole in the back of the cover for your hand looks only big enough for a bare hand. Right. -20 Celsius and you have a bare hand to operate your camera? No way. I call BS on that.

Same magazine, front cover. Snow it seems is a palette for the photographer. Snow reflects the color of what is above it. That is one hundred percent true. Snow can be all sorts of shades of blue or orange or pink. I have no problem with that.

What I do have a problem with is that they say the purple of the snow is a result of the early morning purple sky above it. Again BS! How do I know that? A year ago I was browsing a fellows blog. In it he had a photo that was taken only seconds and  a meter away from when and where this magazine cover photo was taken. The blogger even mentions being with the owner of the cover pic. You know what his morning photo looks like. Blue skies. White snow with a slight blue cast to it.

The cover photo was heavily and I mean heavily Photoshopped. It has no physical resemblance to what color the sky was at the time. I have nothing against Photoshopping to get the look you want but someone, probably the caption writer used a little imagination when writing the description.

Here’s my problem with that. Many novice photographers will think themselves failures because they can’t get the same look to their photo. They’re being led to believe by the magazine that this is how it looked when photographed. Again, I call BS.

The old saying caveat emptor applies more today than ever when it comes to anything printed on paper. Magazines and newspapers are desperate to keep advertisers. Sometimes it appears at the cost of their readers. Don’t always believe what you read if whoever is writing has something to sell to you.

Happy shooting,


ps. The photo above demonstrates the premise that snow DOES reflect the color above it. Everything was bathed in a bright green from the aurora on this particular night.

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~ by Dan Jurak on November 12, 2013.

7 Responses to “Photography Magazines… Separating the BS from the Baloney”

  1. I hear you! Its why I started blogging.

  2. That is one gorgeous image. :-)

  3. Sometimes I find it hard to follow what you say without the examples you’re talking about – but still – I agree that most “reviews” are simple copy and paste press releases. I wish to believe we are smarter than that but even the negative comments you find on amazon or other active user sites are full of ignorance.

    In response to deceit. A recent publication of an image in a nature/travel magazine of a location near where I live was flipped. It was meant to be a travel piece but couldn’t represent the area very well being a mirror image of itself. When I challenged the editor, I was told it was better for the text. What made it worse and even more obvious was the repeat use of the same image but flipped again latter on in the magazine. The layout designer clearly won over the purpose of the story.

  4. I agree Dan. I find NAmerican magazines very superficial and as you say product orientated. An article will promise something and then is so short it really does not deliver -except to promote the author’s work or photo tours. The exception I have found is the British magazines. They do in depth teaching -however after years of reading them I am finding them getting repetitive. They also have honest reviews and ratings of gear that seems to match what you find elsewhere on the net.

  5. Dan, I have enjoyed reading your blog for a few months now, and I find your perspective on landscape photography to be very candid and refreshing.

    Regarding the cover shot on the magazine, I went back and checked this image on both the magazine and the photographer’s website. It’s a great composition and it conveys the feel of winter in the Canadian Rockies. But I agree something is not right with the color. The snow in the mid-ground at the base of the mountain is white with a slight purple/blue cast. It’s ironic that this mid-ground snow does not have a magenta cast (that one would expect from the color in the sky), while the ice crystals in the near foreground do have a magenta cast. And the pastel orange in the sky and water is no where to be seen in the snow or ice.

    You are right on about this image.

  6. Mike, I one hundred percent agree with you regarding the British photo magazines. They are far better than their North American counterparts. About the repetitiveness, they seem to recycle the same ideas/articles. After all, how much is new in photography that you can have a full issue of new information each month? I think that they’d be better off with showcasing photos with how-tos but that’s just me.

    Thank you for visiting and commenting,


  7. Thank you Ed.

    If you had the side by side image which I don’t feel that I can post here without permission, you would see that the original and untouched image had white/blue snow with not a touch of magenta/red/orange.

    The Photoshopped image for my tastes has gone to the extreme. That is not to say that it is wrong because there is no such thing in art/photography but I think it was pushed so far as to be distracting. Not to get away from the point of the blog, the editor who wrote the capline implies that the sky was originally that color and that is why the snow is purple. That’s misleading. Now how many amateur photographers are going to be disappointed that they never see that color in their images? Oh, maybe if I used the same camera/lens/filter combination I could get it to look that way?

    Thank you for visiting and commenting,

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