Master hides for dramatic bird captures
Discover how to shoot competition-worthy bird imagery with practical advice from wildlife photographer Simon Roy
Wildlife photographer Simon Roy teaches us how to utilise hides to shoot delightful images of birds
Many wild animals have an instinctive fear of humans and even the very best camera and super telephoto lens will be insufficient if the species you are trying to photograph feels threatened by you. fieldcraft skills and camouflage can help a photographer get closer to wary subjects, but often the most practical solution is to work from a hide.
a well-positioned hide will enable you to make award-winning images showing relaxed, natural behaviour, and with minimal disturbance to your subject. a hide can be simple or complex but its most important function is to disguise the human form with shelter and comfort being secondary needs. there are many different types including wooden hides, canvas hides, floating hides, elevated hides and even using a vehicle, which can be a very effective mobile hide.
Hides are most suited to situations when you can predict where your subject will be, like a favoured perch or close to a feeding station. wildlife will eventually accept the hide as part of their environment, and then you can start to add or remove elements from the scene. over time a creative photographer can produce a broad collection of work from a single location.
in this feature, we will look at how to set up and use hides for bird photography with tips on equipment and camera settings. a hide will create better opportunities, but a photographer still needs the subject knowledge and technical skills to make the most of them.
GONE FISHING A LOVELY FEMALE KINGFISHER, CAPTURED FROM A WOODEN HIDE