Hides and seek
I must admit that I have a ‘love hate’ relationship with hides. On many reserves, the only photographic access to the wildlife is through the hides. Some of the hides at Tophill Low are particularly good. The new hide at North Marsh is definitely in the four star category and now that the surrounding reed beds have matured, the opportunities to photograph the surrounding wildlife have increased ten-fold.
However, hides do present a few problems. Firstly, your vision is restricted and it is difficult to use a tripod so I nearly always use a bean-bag—actually, my bag is full of bird-seed, not beans. The second problem is the angle of view. Most birds are ideally photographed at eye level. Their eye-level, not yours! Looking down on a bird often appears unnatural and the steeper the angle, the more artificial it becomes. This is what my friend Marsel van Oosten terms, the ‘zoo perspective’. Still, it certainly beats crawling through the mud and excreta on your belly, commando style.