Sometimes I Think They’re Hiding From Me

Nature’s camouflage makes critters hard to find

A great gray owl in an evergreen tree showing how well the owl's camouflage works
A great gray owl does his best to blend in.
An American bittern camouflaged in the reeds
An American bittern in the reeds

One of the toughest challenges for a nature photographer is to show how well a critter’s camouflage works. If the critter has blended-in nearly perfectly, they’re hard to highlight. Here a couple examples and how I handled them.

The great gray owl was almost invisible against that evergreen tree he was in. With his eyes closed, or nearly so, there wasn’t much of a shot. Patience paid off when he finally opened both eyes while half in the sunlight.

With the American bittern, the solution was to get in close (actually with a 500mm lens and a big crop) and use a wide aperture (small F-stop number) to blur the foreground and background.

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