Nick Baker reviews the Stealth Gear One Man Chair Hide for NHBS

“I think this hide is great value for money.”


“If, like me, you’ve spent time trying to conceal yourself from your wildlife subjects, then doubtless you will have found yourself wrestling with scrim, and swearing and cursing as it gets caught on tripods, zippers and Velcro. The other extreme – and until now the only solution – would be to buy a ‘blind’ – a wildlife hide with many of the complexities associated with putting up a tent – a puzzle of poles and guy ropes. As well as often confounding the wildlife watcher/photographer, the whole set-up was both expensive and heavy.

I’ve been aware of these Stealth Gear hides for a year or so now and judging by the high demand, they seem to have caught on – and for good reasons.

It’s a robust camping chair design with a fan of hoops that unfurl from behind and over the seat. This in turn drags with it the polyester fabric of the hide itself. There is a little mesh pocket on one of the arms for your beer, which also can function as a lens holder – pity it doesn’t have two of them! The whole caboodle comes in a Camo-Tree design (photo-realistic leaves and bark, and woodland scenes) which in my experience works, pretty much anywhere, to break up the outline of the unit – and, almost as importantly, hides the contraption and the watcher from the unwanted attentions of his own species!

I found it best to sit in the chair with my gear in front of me and simply flip the hide over my head. Once inside it can be a little fiddly, and your personal organisation is tested a little, but so it is in any blind. If you have big elbows, lots of gear, a mate or intend to be waiting a long while, consider the two-seat option, otherwise you might find it a little too cosy for comfort. But the one-man works very well for me.

There are five apertures through which you can peer or shove a telephoto lens, all of which can be opened or closed easily with Velcro attachments, either opening them fully or leaving a printed mesh panel in place which enables the hide user to see out, while nothing can see in. The five windows are adequate enough, but you can’t see behind – which would on occasion be useful. That said, it would be a bit challenging to turn around even if there were a rear-facing window, especially with a hide full of gear. If full, all-round vision is what you require then this is available in the two-seat version.

The hide comes with a bag of ground pegs, also in a Camo-Tree design. Come on guys, you put the bag down in the long grass because you are in a rush to set up, and of course the wind starts to blow and where are your pegs to secure the thing to the ground as it fills up like a balloon and its skirts start to ruffle uncontrollably in the breeze? In a camouflage bag! Which is where? Somewhere in the long grass, doing its best to be not to be seen… I’ve attached a piece of orange baler twine now I’ve recovered it, so hopefully this won’t happen again.

Slight niggles: stitching holes let through pinpricks of daylight, and water does come spattering through in a torrential downpour. Leaving the hide is difficult – keeping your set-up and not totally blowing your cover requires agility and contortional abilities that are beyond most naturalists over 40! But having said that, all these problems can be applied to all but the most expensive hides and blinds I’ve used, so on balance I think this hide is great value for money.

(Note: if you have children and are fed up with the gaudy primary coloured plastic wendy house that jars with your aesthetic sensibilities then there is a hidden bonus to this hide – 4 year olds love them! And being made of camouflage material, you can sit it in the corner near the shrubbery and barely notice it’s there. It kept my daughter occupied for hours!)”

Book of the Week: Gorillas

Continuing our weekly selection of the very best titles available through NHBS:

Gorillas: Living on the Edge

by Andy Rouse

What?

Another brilliant photo-story, introducing the critically endangered mountain gorillas of the Virunga Volcanoes of East Africa.Plant-Animal Communication jacket image

Why?

A follow-up to his incredibly successful previous project, Tigers: A Celebration of Life, Gorillas: Living on the Edge is full of vivid portraits of episodes in the gorillas’ daily lives. Rouse demonstrates his superb “knack for capturing this great ape doing interesting things”, picking up an extraordinary range of facial expressions and intimate and entertaining moments. As 25% of the profits of Tigers went to tiger conservation projects, so 25% of the profits of Gorillas will go to conservation projects in Rwanda, supporting their continued protection of this characterful ape in its last stronghold.

Who?

Andy Rouse is an inspirational wildlife photographer who is well-known the world over. He is famed for his ability to capture moments from the lives of animals and birds in the wild, getting “up close and personal” with some of the most fascinating and often potentially dangerous animals.

Andy has starred in his own TV series and made numerous TV appearances, has been a pioneering user of digital technology in his work, and he has consistently won awards in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. He has also been runner up in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and had several winners in the Nature’s Best competition.

Read more on Andy Rouse’s website

Available Now from NHBS

Introducing Anima Mundi – Adventures in Wildlife Photography

ANIMA MUNDI – Adventures in Wildlife Photography is a FREE quarterly wildlife and nature travel and photography online magazine.

Anima Mundi #2
ANIMA MUNDI – Adventures in Wildlife Photography is available as a FREE fully interactive 100+ page, widescreen pdf and is published over the internet four times a year in January, April, July and October.

ANIMA MUNDI – Adventures in Wildlife Photography is published in cooperation with X-RAY MAGAZINE, the largest and best-ranked dive periodical of its kind in the world.

Each issue of ANIMA MUNDI features extensive, 50-page long, fully illustrated articles about prime wildlife photography locations worldwide, with field-tested, user-friendly information about trip destinations, local facilities, guides and specialized tour operators.

You will also find in-depth features about all sorts of fascinating wildlife – both terrestrial and marine – plus interactive videos and links, wildlife photographers personal galleries, book reviews, field equipment and techniques tips and a lot more.

Anima Mundi is on Facebook

NHBS have worked with Andrea and Antonella Ferrari, the creators of Anima Mundi, for the last few years as distribution agents for their publishing company, Nautilus Publishing. These three great books have been long-term best-sellers, and are available now from NHBS:

A Diver’s Guide to Reef Life
A Diver’s Guide to Underwater Malaysia Macrolife
A Diver’s Guide to the Art of Underwater Photography

Here Andrea talks about the Anima Mundi project, and his passion for wildlife photography:

What inspired you to create Anima Mundi?

Nature and wildlife have always been a great love of mine. Together with my wife Antonella I’ve written a dozen or more coffee-table books and guidebooks about topside and marine life – we have focused on underwater photography during the past 20 years – but gathering material for such endeavours and working on them during our twice-a-year holidays abroad and weekends at home was becoming quite a chore as we both had an office job. So after 30 years we finally quit our jobs and decided to devote ourselves fully to what we love best. ANIMA MUNDI – Adventures in Wildlife Photography allows me to be my own boss, to make my own creative choices and to follow my own path. Besides, it’s free for everybody to download and enjoy and it will stay so in the future, so we don’t have to worry about compromises – we can make our own choices and freely offer our own field-tested opinion. I’m having the time of my life! We’re not aiming to compete with any other magazine in the line as we’re freely following our own creativity – however I felt a hands-on magazine about wildlife photography and travelling could actually fill a void, as most others are glossy and expensive but also rather devoid of practical, independent advice for those interested in following our footsteps. In this respect ANIMA MUNDI – Adventures in Wildlife Photography isn’t only eye candy for the armchair traveller but also offers sensible, practical information regarding local conditions, travel agencies and facilities to the wildlife and nature photographer.

Tell us about your background in wildlife photography and natural history

We started about 30 years ago – we were very young and inexperienced then of course, but we soon realized that to put together a fully exhaustive feature about a National Park, or even a single species, a lot of time was needed – weeks, if not months – and being both with a company job we couldn’t afford such long holidays. It was heartbreaking seeing our hard-earned tiger photos flatly refused by an editor simply because there were no images of them mating, rearing their cubs or taking down their prey.  So we turned our attention to scuba diving and underwater photography, where there was less competition (and also more fun for us!). If one is focused and disciplined enough, the coral reef environment offers fantastic photo opportunities even for the brief duration of a two-week trip, and we were soon able to visit some amazing locations and bring home some very good shots. We built up quite a reputation – I was the first ever to photograph properly both an Oceanic Whitetip and an Oceanic Thresher shark in the wild, and we were awarded the coveted World Grand Prize for the Best Book About the Sea in 2004 at the Antibes International Festival of the Underwater Image with our coffee-table volume Oceani Segreti.

We also did a Reef Life and a Sharks guide, and then of course we published our best-sellers, A Diver’s Guide to Underwater Malaysia Macrolife, A Diver’s Guide to Reef Life and a Diver’s Guide to the Art of Underwater Photography. To be honest I’ve lost count of the books we’ve done or the translations they received – but now I’ve finally been unable to resist the call of digital publishing! Make no mistake, I consider myself a glorified amateur – I’ve never attended a formal course in photography or biology, but I take what I do very seriously, and I’m proud to say our writings and images are considered quite valuable by some very serious biologists and taxonomists. Some were even used to name new species. It’s all about passion, and being happy with what one is doing!

What are some of your favourite places to visit?

We find beauty and interest everywhere. For scuba diving, the Red Sea 30 years ago used to be marvelous, and then we moved to Borneo first and Raja Ampat in West Papua later. These I would say are the underwater destinations we love most. Borneo and Raja Ampat in particular are at the heart of the Coral Triangle, the epicenter of marine biodiversity – it’s pretty amazing what one sees there, but it’s also heartbreaking seeing the damage which is being done to the marine environment. During the past 30 years we’ve seen marine life plummet everywhere. That – and the onslaught of age! – has convinced us to go back to topside photography. South East Asia, India and Sri Lanka, Central and Southern America, Eastern and South Africa and even poor battered old Europe can offer some fantastic encounters, but of course one must know where to look and with whom to go.With the end of the civil war now Sri Lanka can be safely visited again at last, North-Eastern Poland was a fantastic surprise for us and now Costa Rica and Ecuador are beckoning, not to mention Africa, of course. There’s a whole world out there, and to those who know how to look it’s still full of beauty and surprises. ANIMA MUNDI – Adventures in Wildlife Photography was created for exactly that – to freely share beauty and information with those who care, at no cost at all. Sustainable ecotourism – such as that for wildlife photography – can really help locally, and I’m firmly convinced the free global sharing of information would solve a lot of the world’s problems. Then again, I have always been a lover of science fiction and fantasy…

What advice do you have for keen wildlife photographers who are interested in breaking into the professional market?

Well, I don’t really feel I am in the best of positions to offer advice – as I have never considered myself a true full-time professional. Anyway, I am firmly convinced that the first and most important thing to do is to learn about one’s subjects, being thoroughly conversant with their life habits, their behaviour, their habitat and so on.  So my advice is read and read, and learn as much as you can – know your subjects, become your subjects, this will double the chances of a good  shot and will also double the enjoyment. I’m also a keen proponent of strictly disciplined behaviour in the field – silent stalking, perfect camouflage, absolutely no manipulation or staging and so on. It’s like playing at cowboys and indians again, but it does work! But seriously – if you know what you are doing and you are disciplined and motivated enough – you’ll be able to publish something sooner or later, if that is what you really consider important. Of course you also have to be a good photographer, and that is half practice and half sheer instinct, a natural quality. But reading and learning constantly helps a lot in getting better!

And who/what have been your greatest inspirations, in terms of photographers, or books you have read?

Oh, my idols – when I was young I desperately wanted to learn diving and explore the oceans after the late Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his incredibly influential television documentary series, The Man and the Sea…the man started it all, all my underwater work I owe to him. I can still hear the title music ringing in my years – after 40 years! Later on I also found inspiration in the works by David Doubilet, Doug Perrine and Howard Hall, among others. In topside photography I have always greatly admired the work of Frans Lanting, Steve Bloom, David Hemmings and Nick Brandt – but they’re in an alltogether different league, pure artistic genius at work! I also like a lot of Andy Rouse‘s recent work – but there’s so many incredibly good nature and wildlife photographers out there nowadays, the digital age has opened so many doors – just think of ANIMA MUNDI – Adventures in Wildlife Photography, it’s a channel open to anybody which would have been simply unthinkable until a few years ago.

Subscribe to Anima Mundi

Related titles:

Great Barrier Reef by David Doubilet
Successful Underwater Photography by Brian Skerry and Howard Hall
Life: A Journey Through Time by Frans Lanting and Christine Eckstrom
Spirit of the Wild by Steve Bloom
A Shadow Falls by Nick Brandt
Tigers: A Celebration of Life by Andy Rouse

Browse books on wildlife photography techniques

Set yourself up for wildlife photography with some top quality hides and clothing, trail cameras and travel gear