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About Andy

 

I am an avid adventurer, conservationist, teacher, and outdoor photographer whose photography celebrates the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. My photographic safaris allow my travelers to not only enhance their understanding of photography, lighting, and wildlife, but to develop a life-long admiration for Africa ‘s beauty and culture.

Banana Republic recently used my photographs as the cornerstone of their Urban Safari campaign, and my images were seen in all 750 stores around the globe, as well as in their billboards, catalogs and annual report. I was also the winner of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the ‘Wild Places’ category in 2008 and a highly commended in the ‘Creative Visions of Nature’ category in 2007.

I launched Gura Gear in 2008, in an attempt to deliver lightweight camera bags to the market. I was looking for a lightweight camera bag to hold all of my photographic gear, and there was nothing desirable on the market that suited my needs. After spending 2 years with many prototypes, the Gura Gear Kiboko bag was born. More products are now available on the Gura Gear web site.

 

 

 

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Entries by Andy Biggs (718)

Monday
Dec122016

Photographic Processing and Believability

We are living in the golden age of photography; digital photography has matured and the tools available are robust and functional. The intersection of these magical cameras and raw file processing software brings up the subject of believable photographs. Why should a photograph need to be believable? It doesn’t, but this is often how viewers look at photographs. If an image is believable then the viewer can get past that hurdle and on to opinions of interpretation, quality, aesthetics, and how they actually feel about the photograph.

For example, I recently encountered an elephant (below) while on a boat in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The color in this version of the photograph is unbelievable; I set the Saturation slider beyond what I would normally do. To illustrate my point, I doubt that many people will take a look at the actual content of the photograph after seeing how inappropriately I processed the image because the colors aren’t believable.

  

 

 

The second version of the same photograph (below) was edited more consistently with my normal processing style and language, and the image is more believable. You can move on to discussing how you feel about the image, whether or not you like it, what you think about the main subject, and so forth. But herein lies a challenge and a bit of a paradox for me: color photographs are often believable, but this also has the ability to limit our creativity at the same time. Interpretation of a scene or subject can be done in many different ways, from which lens you use, how far away you are, how you dodge, burn, select an overall color palette, and to where you crop (if at all).


 

The main point in discussing this is to propose the idea that believability changes when you work in color versus black and white. To use a metaphor, consider a box. What exists inside the box is everything believable and outside is everything not believable. For me, the box in the color world is much smaller than a box for black and white. Black and white photographs can be worked in more aggressive and more interpretive ways before a viewer fully understands or appreciates the amount of work done on the image. By removing the color, the reference points are also removed and the photographer is free to push outwards to expand that box and have more creativity and fewer constraints.

In the third example (below), the photograph has been processed in black and white and has much more work done to it in the areas of dodging, burning, and adjusting specific areas of contrast so that you can get past the believability factor and move on to more important things to consider, such as whether you like the image or not, or if it touches your soul.

 

Check out my new video series, Lightroom Simplifiedfor a more in-depth approach to creating believable images both quickly and efficiently. 13 videos, 3.5 hours of step-by-step instruction. 

 

 

Wednesday
Dec072016

Lightroom Simplified, my video series

 

 

If you struggle to understand the Develop module in Lightroom and want to learn a simple approach to the digital darkroom, giving you more time to be out there with your camera, you’re going to appreciate the video series I just created: Lightroom Simplified. 

Lightroom Simplified is a 3.5 hour video course in 13 episodes and covers my complete workflow in the Develop module of Lightroom. If you’ve traveled with me you know that what I love most is being out there, in the field, with my cameras, not fussing for hours over post-production. This approach is simple and efficient and covers my processes for both color and black & white images. It also includes a short bonus video that discusses organization and Lightroom Mobile. 

Lightroom Simplified can be both downloaded and streamed, and will give you the confidence to use the tools of Adobe Lightroom efficiently so you can get back to doing what you love: making photographs.

I’ve teamed up with Craft & Vision to get this into your hands. It will normally be $50 but it’s on sale for $40 for the first week.

Lightroom Simplified Video Tutorials

 

Wednesday
Sep142016

Photo of the Day - Peacock, Bandhavgarh, India

Peacock

Bandhavgarh, India

Friday
Mar252016

Nik Collection is now free!

I have been a huge fan of the Nik Collection plugins for Photoshop (not the Lightroom ones) for many years, and now they are going to be FREE going forward. As Lightroom and Capture One functionality has increased I have been relying less and less on the Nik Collection tools, but they still have a use in my overall tool kit.

Click here to download the Nik Collection for free

Wednesday
Mar022016

On the Lookout for the Classic Gura Gear Camera Bags?

 

I have had many emails asking me if Gura Gear still has the line of bags in stock that had the old branding on them, and the short answer is the best way to find them is to look over at one of the dealers, Outdoor Photo Gear. As you may know, the name Gura Gear was discontinued last year in order to focus time and effort on our Tamrac brand.

Here are some helpful links:

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L - $329 (was $429)

Gura Gear Bataflae 26L in stone color - $199 (was $379)

Gura Gear Bataflae 26L in black - $199 (was $379)

Gura Gear Bataflae 18L in tan - $149 (was $299)

Gura Gear Bataflae 18L in grey - $149 (was $299)

All of the Gura Gear products can be found by searching on Gura Gear on their web site. And, of course, you can find all of the new bags over on the Tamrac web site.

Thursday
Dec242015

2015 Year in Review

Wow. Another year has passed. Many things changed and many things stayed the same. What stayed the same you ask? Too much travel away from home. I say this every single year, but as a nature photographer and guide there isn’t an easy way to balance income requirements for my family and the travel that’s required to earn it. The only way to travel less is to likely leave the industry that I love so much, but I am not yet ready to make such a move.

Camera Equipment

Just like 2014, 2015 was a year of Phase One medium format equipment, augmented by 35mm camera gear when needed. For example, some trips like my Ultimate Primates safari (where we trek for wild chimpanzees and mountain gorillas) a full frame Canon or Nikon camera and a 70-200mm f/2.8 is all that you need. Nothing else. It’s not that my Phase One gear isn’t appropriate, but rather it isn’t the absolute best tool for the job. Late in 2015 I purchased some Canon 35mm gear from a friend who was selling off his entire system. I picked up a 5Ds camera, 24-70mm f/4, 24mm TSE, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II and a 200-400mm f/4. All I need is a second Canon camera body to round out the system. I did take the Canon to Botswana with me last month, and I compared the files to the Phase One IQ250 (with Sony’s 50mp sensor) and at lower ISO values the files look amazing. I think the Phase One 50mp files are better, like way better at ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400 (perhaps by 1.5 or 2 stops), but at ISO 800 and lower the 5Ds is a killer camera. I may purchase a second one, instead of going with something like a 1Dx or its forthcoming replacement.

Places I visited

I have to go off of memory here, and for a 46-year old man that starts to get challenging. ;-). Let’s see. I guided 5 African safaris (4 listed on my web site and 1 was private) to Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda and Rwanda, a landscape trip to Scotland in the late winter, Moab in Utah for the best 1-2 combination of national parks in the American West (Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park), a wildlife and cultural trip to India and also a trip to the southern Oregon coast in the late summer for some relief from the Texas heat.

Of all of the trips the India trip stood out for me. It was my first trip to India, and we had some amazing wildlife sightings with tigers being at the top of the list. I have now added India to my yearly destination list, and my 2016 trip has already been sold out for a number of months. 2017 is already in the works.

My 2016 Schedule

I am busier than I appear, based on my own travel schedule. Why? I act as a safari consultant / agent for safaris and trips that I don’t personally guide. I get phone calls and emails all of the time, asking for assistance with setting up custom safaris for small groups of people who may not have the budget for one of my published trips or maybe my dates don’t work well for them. I also set up trips for other photographers to guide, and these trips have the Andy Biggs Photo Safaris quality stamp all over them. It is the only way for me to satisfy the demand, stay married and see my kids!

If you are considering going to to any of these places or are thinking of joining me in 2016 or beyond, please contact me and let’s have a dialogue about your needs, wants and desires. I have a tendency to set up trips and tell people about them before they end up on my web site, so often many of my trips are a result of my listening to my customers’ wants and then I set something up and tell them about it. The next thing I know I have a trip that’s mostly filled up before I even get a chance to write anything up for this blog or my main web site.

My Favorite Photos and Memories from 2015 (In Captured Order)

Sisters

Okavango Delta, Botswana

 

Lion Pair

Okavango Delta, Botswana

 

Giraffes and Clouds

Lake Ndutu, Tanzania

 

Lioness On A Kopje

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

 

Incoming Storm

Isle of Skye, Scotland

 

Water’s Edge

Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebredes, Scotland

 

Beggar Girl and the Taj Mahal

Agra, India

 

Jumping Tiger

Bandhavgarh, India

 

Green Bee-Eater

Bandavgarh, India

 

Coastal Fog and Sea Stacks

Bandon, Oregon

 

Contemplating Chimpanzee

Kibale Forest, Uganda

 

Mother and Child Chimpanzees

Kibale Forest, Uganda

 

Pre-Trek Dryness and Smiles

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Silverback Mountain Gorilla

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Silverback Mountain Gorilla

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Post-Trek Wetness and Smiles

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Silverback Mountain Gorilla

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Imitation Silverback Mountain Gorilla, AKA Francois

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Leopard Cub

Okavango Delta, Botswana

 

 

Bull Elephant

Okavango Delta, Botswana

 

A Hunting Pack of Painted Wolves, AKA Wild Dogs

Okavango Delta, Botswana

 

Drinking Lioness

Okavango Delta, Botswana

 

Jumping Lion

Okavango Delta, Botswana

 

Leopard and Cub

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Friday
Dec042015

Today is International Cheetah Day

Happy International Cheetah Day, everyone. Today is the day when we recongize the cheetah, one of the most elegant and beautiful big cats on our planet. This is a photograph from a recent safari in Botswana, where we spent some time with this mother and her two 5-week old cubs. Taken near Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge.

 

Tuesday
Sep082015

A Year in the Life, a lecture given at B&H

B&H has now posted a video of a lecture I gave a few months back in NYC. The video is around an hour long, and I spoke about creativity, my own approach to photography as well as some field and post processing techniques.