Camouflage For Wildlife Photography
Possibilities and uses of camouflage
In the photo, I'm wearing a poncho with gloves and hood Sneaky from DeerHunters
The main goal of camouflage is to blend in with the environment as much as possible.
Becoming invisible to the animals, which will allow you to observe them undisturbed and in most cases will give you the only way to get as close to them as possible. Each animal responds differently to camouflage. While getting close to mammals usually requires precise camouflage, (In most cases also block the human odor is needed. Mammals have a relatively well-developed sense of smell to help them recognize the impending danger) get close to birds is much easier. Birds respond mostly only to movement.
In general, camouflage and its use could be divided into mobile and stationary.
I would call clothes with camouflage patterns and camouflage disguises mobile ones. Of course, they are not invisible to animals, but thanks to the camouflage pattern and the ability to break human body silhouette, they are quite effective. It is important to take advantage of them and think when using them. If the animal is looking in your direction, use the disguise ability to blend in with its surroundings and don't move. Any movement, even if the animal will not be able to accurately identify you, will scare it and most likely it will run away. Their advantages are flexibility and the ability to change positions in the field with the possibility of stay unnoticed. They do not block odors so it is necessary to observe the direction of the wind. As I wrote, mammals have a perfect sense of smell. And even if they don't see you, your smell will attract their attention and they won't allow you to get closer unnoticed.
Ghillie camouflage / Sneaky 3d camouflage
In addition to clothes with a camouflage pattern (which is not so effective), you can buy camouflage suits that you can wear over your clothes. You have a choice of two design options. Ghillie or 3d camouflage suit.
Ghillie offers great camouflage that allows you to blend almost invisibly with vegetation. It is also used by snipers and is really very effective. Due to its weight and impracticality when worn, I do not use it personally. Its straps tend to get stuck behind every twig, it's really hot inside and if you get into the rain, .... you'll hate this suit a lot.
The best choice that seems to me is 3D Camouflage Sneaky Set.
It is a fine transparent fabric with a second layer that creates a leaves effect. This gives the suit a 3D dimension which quite well breaks the human silhouette and they naturally react to the movement of the wind. The fabric is light and breathable. It dries quickly and doesn't get too dirty easily. The camouflage can be purchased as a suit (jacket + pants) or as a poncho. Both variants have their advantages and disadvantages. The suit is less successful at breaking a human silhouette but is more practical when moving in a more demanding environment. The poncho, on the other hand, will camouflage best and can be used for multiple purposes. Like a hide blanket when you're lying on the ground. You can hang it on branches, and create a blind-screen hide etc. On the other hand, it can bother you in the bushes, where it will get stuck behind branches, thorns, etc. I own both a poncho and a suit. Thanks to the really small size and weight, I always take them both with me and leave the choice to the present situation.
Wildlife photographers will need more options to hide.
Quite often you will have to wait for the animal for a long time, or you will need to eliminate your movement that can scare the animal. A photo blind or a natural hide is best suited for this purpose. A natural hide will always serve you best. It will be in place for a long time, and the animals will get used to it. They will take it as part of the environment in a short time.
Photo blind Butteo Mark II
Photo blind is a very practical solution.
If you are going to choose a blind, I recommend choosing the one for photography. There are a lot of hunting tents on the market that look very similar, but they are not suitable for photography. You will probably adjust the photo blind for your needs ( Enlarge the view window to get a better view from the blind. Create/adjust an extra camera window at a different height, etc. ) The blinds are usually made in unified dimensions and offer quite similar parameters. Windows at 25cm / 70cm / 90cm height may not be suitable for every occasion. Although 90% of you will be ok with it, I want more freedom to adjust the position from which I'm taking photos.
I personally prefer spring construction blinds. They are light, decompose quickly and fold back. Once folded, it attaches well to a backpack, or you can carry it in your hands if needed.
Taking photos from the blind is quite undemanding. You will definitely need a folding chair, you will be able to spend even a few hours in blind without any problem. I consider it easy to take pictures of birds from a photo blind. The birds do not react to the blind and there is no need for special camouflage over the blind more or less. It's getting more complicated with mammals or even with water flows. They know their territory better and some even defend it. It is better to cover the photo blind with the surrounding vegetation or an extra camouflage net to better blend with the surroundings. It is always better if the blind does not significantly disturb the original environment. Otherwise, the animals will react to it. That doesn't mean they would run away, but blind will get their attention and you may not be able to catch the animal in its natural behavior.
telescopic rods| camouflage DeerHunters | other camouflage nets
Although the photo blind will certainly be the primary and most optimal solution, there will always be situations where a more practical way to disguise yourself can be found. It will be given by the possibilities of the location, where even the photo blind will be unnecessarily too large and look conspicuous. Or you will just want to have something smaller and lighter with you. Something that offers you a similar camouflage efficiency, however, does not take up so much space packed. One of them is a simple blind-screen hide. It's flexible and fast to set up. It is suitable for places with lower vegetation, or you can place it in a small space between the bushes or tall grass. The blind-screen hide can be made by a camouflage net (I have several in colors and variations for different habitats and seasons) which you can hang behind the branches or telescopic fishing rods. Among other things, fishing rods can get used for many other things. Can be used as a Flash holder, twig holder for photographing birds, etc.
Set up screen-blind ( timelapse )
The screen consists of a camouflage net (I have several in colors and variations for different habitats and seasons) which you can hang behind the branches, etc. For sure, I also carry fishing telescopic rods on which I can hang the net. You will not always find suitable branches so it is good to always have these sticks with you. It's cheap and lightweight. One rod weighs around 200g and they are available in various lengths. They are telescopic, which means they can be easily adjusted to your desired length and stored in short. You can use classic clothes pegs to hold the net or use a more sturdy clamp. It will do a better job on windy days.
Among other things, rods can be used as a flash holder or perch holder for bird photography.
Sure you will come up with other good use for them.
Using rods to attach a flash or branch.
My next alternative is a kind of mini photo blind for low angle photography. It's a simple tent construction over which I throw a camouflage net. It is similar in size and weight to a blind screen. It offers better stability on windy days and has a roof. If I take the Ghillie net with me, which I throw over the construction, I will create a perfect haystack I can hide in.
Construction is light and cheap to buy. All you need are tent rods. Carabine and cord to keep construction stand together. I found this is very practical on various surfaces and offers me a very steady tent even on windy days.
Tent rods | camouflage DeerHunters
The construction holds the net well above me and allows me to move freely. Of Course, the range of movement is quite limited, but even so, I am able to spend a few hours there. In combination with DeerHunters net, you get a great view all around, and the chances that animals will notice you are very low.
Never use a semi-transparent camo net when the sun stays behind you. This will make the net appear transparent.
Set up mini photo blind ( timelapse )
Well, it should be all. The basis should always be the same. Use the field vegetation to your advantage. Make the most of natural resources and use camouflage as a supplement. You will definitely come up with different ways and techniques for each environment. Be creative and try new things. There is not certainly one and only universal recipe for everything, and you certainly will not suffice with a single technique or one type of photo blind. Camouflage is just one of many things you will have to master on your way to create great wildlife photos.
I hope you have learned something new and wish you all the best.