Monday, December 7, 2009

Shooting from a Blind

I started to shoot from a blind a month or two ago. It's been an interesting and sometimes funny addition to my shooting style.

The blind I got is the Kwik Blind from's store. It was not much money, especially when you consider the time and effort and camera gear involved... I've spent twice as much on a single memory card!

The good thing about a blind like the one I got is that it is small and light and comes with pouch on a belt so it is easy to carry around.

read on for more.

The down side to using a blind and setting up while there's light out is that (at least when I did it) the birds saw me and flew off a bit. And then it becomes a waiting game. I waited a bunch and was nearly ready to move on (40 minutes in to waiting one time) but I stuck it out. It turns in to a bet on the odds and I kept doubling down.

I had my ipod and was passing the time, and was beginning to learn the ins and outs of using a blind.

Along with the blind I got a Walkstool, the XXL one, but it turned out to be way too high to be comfortable on non-level ground. I used my LLBean low-chair instead, it has legs that are about 4 inches high and was great for getting low and sitting above the muck.

Eventually the Snowy Egret I was hoping to shoot from close up came back. It took a while, during which time he would look towards me and shake his head like he wasn't believing his eyes because part of him knew I was still there. Lol. Anyway he did come back, and then all that grass was in the way. I learned from that setup that I needed to plan the spot just a little better. Get closer to the grass to shoot through it, not from behind it so much or something like that.

For the shots in this post I was at Chincoteague along the Wildlife Drive. I'd only shot here, well, almost never. It was new to me mostly. I focused on the area where there are pipes that allow water to flow from one pond to another, where the egrets and herons spent a lot of time fishing in that concentrated flow of water.

The funny incident was when an older fella went by on a bike and circled back around to ask me what I saw with my MICROSCOPE, and kept shouting at me to get a response. I pretended, and ignored him, I was HIDING! But I learned I need to hide not just from the birds, but the people too.

And for that matter, people in cars didn't help much either. Often they'd see me or my blind and pull up right behind me or next to me and want to see what I was seeing. Some time people would get out of their car too. That was a learning experience for me no doubt. I later positioned my own car so that it was between me and the road, so there was not a spot for someone to stop DIRECTLY behind me. And with the car angled just a little it would make it harder to see my spot when they approached but easier once they were past me...

At least one time someone said from their car 'oh sorry, didn't see you there' which I believed. They were either paying little attention to my spot or the camo was working or who knows.

I've only posted a few photos to my flickr where I used the blind, since results have not been amazing yet, but I've been encouraged none the less... Here are some shots taken from the new blind:

Snowy @ Chincoteague
The above was taken from the setup as seen in the first photo above. It worked pretty well, but that was also the spot where people saw me too easily.

Heron Hunting
(A person got out of their car to shoot the bird after seeing me I guess, and the bird immediately flew off, before they had the camera and tripod out.......)

Great Egrets @ Sunset - Chincoteague 2009
(they weren't all that close but I was in the blind)

This fall I've tried a few new things, gone to a few new places, and indeed gotten some new results.

This winter and spring I will be using the blind more, shooting some video with my new D300s (and 1.7x TC), and continuing to try to push myself past my comfort zone. Photography is 'just' my hobby, but I like to take it pretty seriously and work hard to get improving results.

Happy Shooting.



Pat Ulrich said...

Cool post, Jon! I've never really considered a blind, since I just assumed they were probably fairly expensive, and perhaps more hassle then its worth. I'll be curious to see your results over time! Do you know if there are any stipulations about setting up a blind in public places?

And I absolutely love that last frame -- beautiful!

Dr. B.N.Singh said...

Best of luck Jon. Thanks for sharing.

Nikographer said...

No restrictions on using a blind as far as I know, but I'd be careful around hunters!

What's In My Yard? said...

This is one of the coolest sites I have found. Nice pics.