Monday, May 24, 2010



(km-fläzh, -fläj)
1. The method or result of concealing personnel or equipment from an enemy by making them appear to be part of the natural surroundings.
2. Concealment by disguise or protective coloring.
3. Fabric or a garment dyed in splotches of green, brown, tan, and black so as to make the wearer indistinguishable from the surrounding environment.
v. cam·ou·flaged, cam·ou·flag·ing, cam·ou·flag·es
1. To conceal by the use of disguise or by protective coloring or garments that blend in with the surrounding environment.
2. To conceal, usually through misrepresentation or other artifice: camouflaged their hatred with professions of friendship. See Synonyms at disguise.
To use protective coloring or garments for concealment.

Fancy dictionary pronouncements aside, what is camouflage? The best I can make my thoughts sing out loud.... Camouflage is the art of encouraging people to see what you want them to see, no matter what is really there.

Is it all about fancy camo patterns and paint jobs? Not a chance. I clearly recall a street I used to drive, for no more reason than somebody had painted their mailbox with a camouflage pattern. I often thought about nailing that mailbox with my truck, and then claiming "I didn't see it ".

No... camouflage is many things, and all depends on the venue and purpose. For this missive, I'll refer to 'urban camouflage', or the art of being seen as something other than what you might be.

Lately I've been favoring 'tactical pants'. This article of clothing is the most comfortable I have ever worn, and hands down is the most practical. Yet... there is a worry. Will they look too 'military' and make me stand out from the crowd?

The answer.... no, they don't. They look like regular old cargo pants from WalMart to the uninitiated, and not like the serious apparel they are. People see what they expect to see, and pants with big leg pockets are fashionable cargo pants, NOT tactical wear with magazine pockets and flashlight holders built in.

I have worn a safari vest for years, as long as it's above 5 degrees or so. Maybe a long sleeve shirt under it, maybe not, but always positioned to neatly cover my weapon. The many pockets hold spare gear such as magazines, a knife, a flashlight, etc.

Add the tactical pants and the safari vest together.... and do I suddenly look like a wannabe militaristic mall ninja who might need to be watched? No.... because I add my camera to the mix. With a decent digital SLR hanging off my neck, I am no longer a half crazed mall ninja, but a Photographer. Naturally I have a vest with pockets, that's what photographers wear. Of course I have cargo pants... that's what photographers wear to hold their lenses and stuff.

With the right mix of gear, and a few gentle nudging encouragements (my floppy Disney hat perhaps), People see what they expect to see, and what I wish them to see.

The best part of such camouflage... once people pigeon hole someone and attach a mental label to him, that person can become invisible.

More than a few times I have laid down my camera, taken off my hat and sunglasses... only to have people around me blink and stare, as if seeing me for the first time. More than a few times... hundreds of times in fact... have a I moved around a large crowd with my camera, my safari vest, and my funny hat only to have no one remember me being there.

Camouflage.... encouraging people to see what you wish them to see... because it's what they expect to see.

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