Wildlife photographer uses swan disguise to get closer to birds

© Henryk Janowski

Birds are usually skittish creatures and getting close enough for a photograph is only half the problem for wildlife photographers. The other half of the problem is in getting close enough while keeping birds comfortable and undisturbed by your presence so they act naturally and show behaviors not usually viewed by humans. Oh, and doing all this without damaging your expensive camera gear.

While remote cameras are one option, wildlife photographer Henryk Janowski has come up with a brilliant way to solve for all these problems and still get to be part of the action. In the local swamp where he photographs a variety of bird species, he captures intimate and up-close behaviors by swimming around underneath a swan.

© Henryk Janowski

PetaPixel notes, "After a number of failed ideas, he came up with the idea of building a floating swan that hides his body and supports his camera equipment. To use the swan blind, he puts on a neoprene diving suit and immerses himself in the water up to his head."

© Henryk Janowski

Janowski states:

I've always wanted to get close enough to wetland birds to photograph them undisturbed. However, water has always been a barrier in my ability to build shelters that I can stay in for long stretches of time. For several years, I used devices that would, on one hand, let me get closer to the birds. On the other hand, there was always the possibility that my photography equipment would sink in the water. I had an idea to build a ship-type structure designed to look like a swam so that I could spend hours in the water amongst the birds.

Whenever I swim in my camouflage, I feel at one with nature. You pass birds and beavers at play, undisturbed by human presence. This proved to me that I had successfully broken the taboo that the aquatic environment was inaccessible... I came back happy and full of satisfaction, not so much with successful shots, but from having been able to reside in the middle of this beautiful spectacle without introducing chaos and panic among the birds. Instead, that morning, I was one with them.

How successful is this disguise? His photography can answer that for us:

© Henryk Janowski

© Henryk Janowski

© Henryk Janowski

It's hard to argue with a disguise that lets you get so close to wildlife without disturbing it, that you can capture beautiful moments like these. Check out more incredible photographs of birds on Janowski's website. You don't want to miss some of these intimate and wonderful portraits.

Tags: Animals | Birds | Photography