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PHOTOGRAPHING FROM HIDES by Ray Channells

When photographing water birds, it is necessary to use a hide, to obtain pictures where the subject is not aware of the photographer.Over the years I have used several different types of hide, starting with one covered in hessian. I gave this up because the birds could become aware of the camera man, and loose strands of the material have a habit of intruding into the picture, or bedecking the equipment. At present I use a hide as follows: the top framing is constructed of polythene water piping, the corner pieces having an extra piece fitted and glued, so that 3 cavities are available for the side pieces and the legs. The latter are tubular aluminium, 5’ high, for strength and lightness, excepting one leg of 1¼” square wood. This is for screwing on the female pieces of press studs, the other pieces being attached to the material of the hide down 2 sides. This makes for easy ingress and egress. The covering material is cotton dersiti. The hide measures 3’ x 3’ x 5’, and is held down from each corner with nylon cord and a steel peg.
 
Erecting the big hide - Ray, Andrew and Tim
 
Flood time - rising water can be a problem
An opening for viewing and photographing is made in 3 sides, as it is often necessary to accommodate subjects approaching from different places. The material is light, making the interior reasonably cool. However, when the sun is behind the hide a shadow of the photographer can be thrown on the front, and a sudden movement has often scared the birds. For this reason I usually hang another piece of material, or my shirt, in hot weather, over the back (from inside).The whole hide fits into a plastic fertilizer bag, with the legs extruding, and is reasonably light and easy to carry – for short distances!
 
 

 

Rescue operation

 
3 examples of hides, side by side. In spite of the daunting sight, several white-faced herons came quite close, and were photographed catching fish

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