May 5, 2022
I love going on picture walks! When I’m out on the trails looking for something beautiful or interesting to photograph, I am totally engrossed in what I am doing. Sometimes, though, my very best picture walks, aren’t walks at all. I just stand in one place for the longest time until I become invisible; no longer noticeable to birds or other nearby creatures: Hidden in plain sight.
One of my favorite places to ‘hide’ has been my own backyard. There’s a quiet, inviting creek just down the hill where the wood ducks, mallards and geese come to swim and the white-tailed deer come to drink. There are tall, mature trees on both sides of the creek that provide both shelter and a place to nest for a wide variety of songbirds, and a small contingency of squirrels. Most days, there’s a delightful cacophony of birds singing and wild turkeys gobbling as they try to attract a mate. Interspersed with all the singing and gobbling, you will hear the rat-ta-tat-tat of the woodpeckers and, in early spring, there will be the soothing chorus of tree frogs.
When I’m not on my home turf, my favorite hiding place is anywhere I can find a source of water, no matter how small. This past winter, when the creek was mostly frozen over, there was a very small opening in the ice where three thirsty robins had gathered for a drink. It made for a great shot! A few days ago, I was standing quietly among the cattails along the mucky edge of a very tiny pond, when a red-winged Blackbird landed directly in front of me! Another great photo opportunity!
As much as I enjoyed getting that close-up of a Red-winged Blackbird, it is not the most interesting or challenging bird I’ve attempted to photograph. The real picture prize for me has been the Belted Kingfisher. It’s virtually impossible for me to photograph unless I’ve been standing inconspicuously for a very long time! If the Kingfisher arrives before I do, I don’t stand a chance! They know I am coming long before I even leave the house!
My best ‘hiding in plain sight’ shot was not a Kingfisher or a Red-winged Blackbird, but a Bald Eagle! I had been standing in the tall grass along the edge of a lake when an impressively large Bald Eagle swooped down out of nowhere, grabbed a fish from the water in front of me and quickly flew off! Luckily, I was able to get in a few shots before he totally disappeared! It was the best catch of the day—at least for me!!
The secret to hiding in plain sight is simple: be quiet and be ready! It also helps to have your camera mounted on a tripod or a monopod so that the act of lifting the camera to your eye doesn’t scare away your subject. Once you find a place to stand, check your camera settings, take a few practice shots, and then be still! If you’re lucky, you’ll soon blend in to the landscape!
I never know what surprises await me, but I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve been able to hide in plain sight and photograph all the critters who might otherwise disappear at the very sight of me!