View of the front - note the wheels
and the foot rest under the cameras
A lot of people who know me have heard about “The Man Cave,” which is my own, custom-build blind that I use for photography in my backyard. If you don’t know me (and I can’t imagine WHY you would be reading this if you don’t, but we’ll ignore your lack of judgment – for now) I am a professional wildlife photographer. I have used a variety of blinds for a number of years – mostly those pop-up camo blinds, in order to allow my subjects to get closer to me and to keep me out of the elements – more or less. They are a great tool, but they wear out, blow over in strong winds and you have to take them in and out every day. They can also get a little cramped inside with tripods, chairs, coolers and such.
A little plastic on top helps keep out the rain
About two years ago, I decided that I wanted something a bit more permanent. I knew the basic elements that I wanted – weather resistant, solid and movable. I even knew the size (4’ x 5’ x 6’ – W x L x H). Now, all I had to do was build it.
Run-flat wheels were a later addition
I got a flat early on - AAA does not service photo blinds
I started with a simple frame of the size I wanted, added siding in the form of plywood and wood salvaged from some old pallets, then threw on a roof that provided an overhang to protect me and the camera from the rain and snow. I wanted to avoid the need for a tripod, so I made a front support from 2 x 12’s that could accommodate two cameras on sturdy Bogen heads as well as food and drink for me. To make it mobile, I added two run-flat wheels with handles on the opposite side so that I could roll it around the yard. As you can see from the photos, I may not be a master carpenter, but I am creative.
Room for two cameras - a big plus when doing catalog shoots
Anyway, as things started coming together, the cave became heavier and heavier. So heavy, in fact, that I never put on the back door, instead opting to use an old camo sheet to keep the weight down. The crowning touch, though, has to be the addition of a rocker/glider that my wife found at a local garage sale for just $10. It is not only the most comfortable chair ever made, but it “glides” back and forth to allow for easy entry and movement towards the cameras. I have to admit, I have fallen asleep more than once during lulls in activity.
Probably the only photo blind in the world with a "Glider"
A final hint to those of you that might be inspired to build your own man cave. Don’t ask your wife if it would be OK to build one. Of course she’ll say “No!” If I had asked permission, I would never have been able to build one either. My wife may be patient with me, but she has her limits.
Full disclosure - these photos were taken with my pocket camera which sucks - not that I did it any favors. To prove that I really can take good photos, check out some of these shots, all taken from my man cave: http://stevebyland.com/index.php?p=1_231_Eastern-Bluebirds-2011
You can see thousands of my photos at http://www.stevebyland.com/ They are all available for sale as prints or license. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.