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Tiger Stripes Camouflage

Camouflage: Why Things are Seen

Camouflage (Photo credit: Anita363)

It only takes a quick glance around the natural world to see that camouflage is one of the most effective defense mechanisms ever developed. It is for this reason that we see it utilized by a large number of organisms that are preyed upon, and in many cases it is an amazingly successful strategy.

In this article, I’ll discuss some of the reasons why things are seen, and how you can use that knowledge to keep yourself from being detected. This information should help you when considering your own survival efforts.

Detection of Changes

It should be noted first and foremost that the human visual system (and the visual system of most other animals) is geared toward detecting changes in the environment. This is in and of itself a survival mechanism, as a non-changing environment poses potentially less of a threat than a changing one. For example, you can imagine that you would feel more at rest in a peaceful clearing with no one around than you would in that same clearing if you constantly saw movement in the trees and heard unidentified noises all around you.

The idea that people and animals notice change more than stasis is the foundation for all forms of camouflage. If you can make yourself resemble your environment more, it will allow you to blend in with your surroundings. Because you blend in, others will be less likely to notice you as there will be less disturbance of their normal visual scene.

What Types of Changes Register

The visual system is tuned to recognize any changes, but because we know that certain things indicate movement by a potential predator we are especially tuned into them. For example, changes in the surface of something, including the color or pattern, are sure indications that there is another presence in the environment. Also, moving shadows or alterations in the spacing between two objects are sure signs that someone or something else may be near. These types of changes are what we are particularly tuned into, and it is these changes that you must minimize in order to go unnoticed.

Natural Examples of Camouflage

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You can see many animals take advantage of how the visual system picks up primarily on change. The typical example is the chameleon, which changes its coloring depe


nding on the background it rests upon. Countless other examples abound throughout nature, however, including leopards, foxes, insects, etc. All of these creatures are trying to reduce the amount of change they introduce into their environment in order to go unnoticed and thus stay alive longer.

How to Use This Information

It is great to know why things are seen, but what we are concerned about here is using that information to your advantage when it comes to survival. Knowing that things are seen based on the concept of change indicates that one of the first steps toward creating good camouflage is minimizing that change. In order to do that, you must know your environment.

Blending in
Blending in (Photo credit: Duncan~)

Thus, the first step to camouflage is to know the area you are trying to blend in with. If you are trying to blend into an urban environment, your camouflage strategy will differ drastically from if you are trying to blend into a woodland environment. Either way, you should don clothing and bodypaint that matches your surroundings.

In addition to body paint and clothing, you should consider rubbing some natural debris on your body to allow you to blend in further. Natural debris in a city environment might be garbage, while in the woods it could be dirt, leaves, and branches.

Your disguises shouldn’t begin and end with camouflage, however. You should also pay attention to creating the proper environment to hide in. It is essential to find a good location where it is likely you will be able to blend in. Once you’ve done this, prepare your location just as you do your body, for maximizing stasis over change.

Blending in with your surroundings is an essential part of survival. In order to make it in an unsafe world, you must master this technique. To do so, keep in mind the way the visual system works and work to minimize the changes you cause in the environment around you.


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