The PhotoArk™ is an idea born from observing wildlife on the farm. The shiny metal pig arks are everywhere and the wildlife is completely habituated to their presence as well as any noise coming from within – they are quite simply part of the landscape. Like a mini one-man hide, the prototype PhotoArk™ is a secure, low-maintenance, weatherproof and comfortable ground-level photography hide.
The PhotoArk™ in detail
The PhotoArk™ is constructed with a galvanised steel exterior filled with 40mm Celotex insulation. The steel shell rests on a solid timber base with a ¾-inch exterior plywood floor and heavy-duty tanalised timber frame. Yes, I did say “galvanised steel” and yes it’s very shiny and reflective.
But it’s worth pointing out that the wildlife on the farm is not at all bothered by this, because for wild animals it’s the unfamiliar shape, smell or movement that are triggers for alarm. These shiny metal stock arks are dotted all over the farm and are an everyday part of the landscape.
Clients enter via a small hatch at the rear which has securing catch-locks on the inside, should you wish to lock yourself in at night. Inside, the floor area measures 2.3m (8ft) in length and 1.9m (6ft) wide plus an internal height of 1.1m. It’s a cosy space. At the front, an 500mm x 800mm scrim-covered opening provides the viewing window. The metalwork, surrounding the window on the outside, is covered with a matt-black plastic coating to prevent light reflecting and inside a black-vlevet curtain screens the rear.
These hides are designed for ground-level photography, standing less than 30cm from the ground. I provide machined aluminium tripod plates suitable for most tripod heads (although gimbals work best) or you can use a tripod – one that opens wide for low-level work. Alternatively you can use a double beanbag. I also supply wooden blocks to raise the height for comfort.
If you find lying prone at this low-level uncomfortable, the window is high enough (~800mm) for you to sit-up and I provide basic bed chairs, like this one on the right. To enhance comfort levels, 30mm rubber matting has been installed and a self-inflating camping matt is provided. It doesn’t sound much, but it works. In the winter, the 40mm Celotex insulation keeps ambient temperature within the hides comfortable. During the warmer summer months, the scrim at the front allows air to flow through and we provide battery powered fans to keep you cool.
The PhotoArk™ has been designed for just one photographer only, bookable in advance. Two PhotoArks™ are currently in use at our field badger site, an open location, with extensive sett and mature hedgerow, with unbroken light all day long.