Hide and observe!

03.06.2014  Ville Pohjola

Spring is the time for observing the nature. Birds are moving back to North, all the way up to the coast of the Arctic Ocean. This means that masses of nature lovers are also on the move. Lake sides and wetlands all over northern Europe are filled with birdwatchers.  

When birds have found their homes and settled down, the nature seems to calm down. When the spring turns to early summer the time is still right for observing the nature. For some strange reason the observation season ends for many nature lovers when June starts. As if birds are the only interesting object in our nature? For me the most active time for nature photography starts just before Midsummer. There is naturally a short silent time just in the May-June turning point because of the breeding time. Roe deers are hiding at the thickets, but with patience and knowledge you can still find them. White tailed deers are giving birth to their fawn and therefore hiding also.

There is still lot to see in the early summer nights. After a long winter mooses are grazing actively to fill up their energy storages. Foxes are trying to feed their offspring by hunting actively. Soon after the white tailed deer female has given birth to her fawn she can leave the offspring alone for a couple of hours. At that time the fawn is hiding very still at the thicket and the mother is eating at the close field. This is the moment for a photographer to be active. It is just the right time to find deers, mooses and other mammals already during the late afternoon.

This is the time for great experiences in the nature. The nightless night makes it possible to observe animals throughout the night. Warm days and cold evenings ensure that the scenery is at its most beautiful. Change in the temperature raises a magical mist over the fields and forests. The sun just visits behind the horizon. Every single element is in the correct order. All details are well planned by Mother Nature, including the nightly flight of a woodcock. The sound of it is one of the key elements of a summer night experience. This is the time of most magical nature photographs.

To be able to enjoy this experience a nature enthusiast needs to be well equipped. There are lot of similarities in the clothing of a nature photographer and a hunter. Covering the pale skin is crucial as animals will immediately see any white spots in the green forest. It is also important to be absolutely still, as any movement is easily spotted. Modern camo patterns are designed for this exactly. The camo pattern should fit to the environment they are used in. That way they work in the most efficient way. For example Realtree has a large variety of different patterns for different environments. Pine forest is very different from hardwoods and the bed of reeds has more vertical shapes than a thicket has.

A mammal’s eye sight is not very sensitive for colors, but it is important to hide the human movement carefully, and silence is the key element to get close to animals. At those distances your gear should be silent. Chemically treated, plain colored cotton is not the most silent fabric for for this situations. Instead I like to use technical fleece or brushed polyester with Optiface Concealment patterns. Optifade's digital camo patterns have been designed for hiding movement and it really does the job. It is a great experience to stand at a 10 meter distance from a beaver that does not have a clue about the human nearby. Seeing it swimming peacefully at its own element is a true nature experience. Another great moment is when a deer doe wanders peacefully right in front of you, eating and enjoying the sunset.

At these circumstances you also make the best photographs. When an animal is eating or just relaxing in its most natural environment it is also the best object for a photograph. To get to those situations requires some science. You need to have the knowledge about animal behaviour. This will help you attract the animal with methods like food or different calls. You also need the science of concealment. You need The Science of Nothing.

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