Lion On The Plains
Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya. January 2014
There is something so regal, so majestic, so beautiful about a male lion in his prime when his mane is waving in the wind. I have found that the angle at which one photographs big cats as the lie in the grass is extremely important. If the subject is showing too much belly you have to move the vehicle around to eliminate that view, and other angles may show an awkwardness to the way the animal is sitting or lying down. I didn’t have much of a choice with this subject, primarily because the background in this view was the best with the above angle of view. A well-positioned background is that extra step that a photographer needs to think about, as you do not want to have your background (or foreground) compete with the overall purposes of what the photograph is all about.
I did attempt to get a head-on shot of this male, however the sitted position and the background just didn’t work for me.
This is just my $.02 and how I tend to like to frame my photographs. What do you think?
Well, after some amazing desert landscapes and wildlife I am back home and in the saddle, so to speak. This past Namibia trip was my longest to date, as I way away from home for four weeks to the day. I co-lead a pair of workshops with good friend Joshua Holko, and after the second workshop was completed we extended our stay for another 5 nights and spent some time in the north of the country.
While I was away I rededicated myself to updating this blog more often than I have done so in the past year or two. Much of my past year or two have been spent updating Facebook or Google+, and I realize that I have ignored many people who are not on either social media platform. My approach going forward will be to update this blog and post links back to this site on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Let’s just call this my 2014 New Year’s Resolution in April.
I have many things to write about, from recent images on safari in Africa to thoughts on camera gear and the ever elusive work / family balance that I never seem to obtain. It all starts by writing down the first letter of the first word of the first paragraph. My approach will be to carve out at least an hour each week to make updates, which is often hard to find in my busy life.
I am excited to publicly announce that Joshua Holko and I are opening up the booking process for our photographic expedition to South Georgia Island and Antarctica. Our expedition will last for 20 days, and we will depart Ushuaia, Argentina on the 3rd of November, 2014. Our photographic expedition has been designed to provide the definitive South Georgia Island photography experience. We will cross the Drake Passage where we will spend time photographing amazing icebergs and the spectacular Antarctic Peninsula. We will also visit Elephant Island, home to twenty two of Shackleton’s men for four months. We will enter the Scotia Sea, detouring to the remote and rarely visited mountainous South Orkney Islands. We will zodiac cruises through a maze of icebergs before landing ashore on a beach with penguins, seals and lichen encrusted boulders. This location alone promises fantastic wildlife and landscape opportunities. We will then continue across the Scotia sea, bound for South Georgia Island, where we will see and photograph the world’s largest King Penguin rookeries, majestic albatross nests, seals and a plethora of bird life. Kelp-strewn beaches are cluttered with basking elephant seals, feisty fur seals and hundreds of penguins that will prove a wildlife photographer’s dream. Stromness and Grytviken harbour’s 9,000 foot rocky peaks that rise up from the ocean will fulfill every landscape shooter’s wishes for dramatic landscape. South Georgia’s remote, untamed landscape is simply stunning. Scattered across the mighty Southern Ocean, the tiny arc of windswept islands and harbours are some of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries set against world class landscapes. Famed for its abandoned whaling stations and Shackleton’s heroic journey, South Georgia is home to literally millions of fur seals and penguins, wallows of elephant seals and nesting albatross. After we finish photographing in this breathtaking area we will sail back to Ushuaia where we will dock on the 22nd of November and conclude our once in a lifetime expedition.
Joshua and I wanted to put together a dedicated photography expedition to both Antarctica and South Georgia Island that gave photographers the best possible opportunity to photograph big icebergs and amazing wildlife on the same trip. We wanted to ensure sufficient time in both Antarctica and South Georgia Island, so this is a brand new itinerary that has been planned from the ground up to really maximize the opportunities for photography. We have specifically timed our expedition early in the season in order to give us the best opportunities for plenty of icebergs as well as wildlife at South Georgia Island. The ice and snow at South Georgia island will be pristine and as yet unvisited by man after the Antarctic winter. If you can only travel to Antarctica and South Georgia Island once in your life for photography then this is most definitely the trip you want to be on.
Key Details of our Expedition
- Dates: 03 November to 22 November, 2014. 20 days / 19 nights
- Ship : Ice Hardened Expedition Class Ship ‘Polar Pioneer’ Regarded by many as the best vessel for polar photography for its ability to get really close to big ice and ample deck space for photography.
- Trip Leaders : Andy Biggs and Joshua Holko
- Dedicated to Wildlife and Landscape Photography
If you would like to join us, please send me an email to email@example.com. Places are very limited on this trip and given the unique nature of this expedition we do expect to sell out quickly. Due to early expressions of interest the Captains Suite and Mini Suites are already sold out and there are only limited twin private and twin share rooms remaining. We have the entire vessel so this trip is solely for photographers and is 100% dedicated to both landscape and wildlife photography. Places are booked strictly on a first come first served basis. A full itinerary and costs can be found on my web site.
Wow. What a year. I mean what-a-year. I spent more time away from home than I ever anticipated, but in that time away I had some amazing experiences, photographic opportunities and time with customers that are nothing short of amazing. So let’s jump into my year, which is going to be a modem buster of a blog entry, due to the large volume of images.
Before we get to the destinations and photographs, I need to say that 2013 was a huge year of change for me. Why? I sold off much of my Nikon 35mm gear in order to be more agnostic. I did this because I need to shoot with Canon and other systems, as I need and want to know exactly what the needs of my customers are. I sold off much of my Nikon system and only own a D800E, 24-70mm, 70-200mm and a 50mm. This means I have a huge gap to fill on each of my trips, which I fill by relying on the rental market. I use Borrowlenses.com exactly for this need. I just rent either a Canon or Nikon camera body and a ‘long’ lens, like a 300mm f/2.8, 400mm f/2.8 or 200-400mm f/4. Voila. Simple, easy and I accomplish the goal of knowing both platforms as best that I can.
I also shoot with Phase One medium format gear, and late this year I upgraded from a 60 megapixel IQ160 digital back to an 80 megapixel IQ280 digital back. After my first trip with the new IQ280 I am extremely happy with the upgrade, as I now have 10,300 pixels on the longest dimension to work with. These files are HUGE, I tell you. HUGE. And yes, I now need a new computer to process the files.
International Travel - Africa and Iceland
I spent much of the month of March in Iceland, as I co-led two workshop groups with friends Joshua Holko and Daniel Bergman. These workshops were winter workshops, primarily driven around snow, ice and the aurora borealis. Here are a few images from March:
Aurora Borealis, Lighthouse and Power Plant
Daniel, King of Ice
Workshop Group at Jökulsárlön
Reysnisdrangar near Vík
Having a little fun at my expense. Funny people.
Joshua out on the ice
I also spent a ton of time in Africa, splitting my time between Tanzania (1 safari), Rwanda (1 safari), Kenya (3 safaris) and Botswana (3 safaris). I didn’t visit Africa until May, yet I managed to fit in so many game drives into the year I think I lost count. Here is a quick synopsis of my African travels, in order of where I guided my trips:
Mother and Baby Giraffe, Singita Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania
Playing Cheetahs, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya
Cheetahs Chasing Their Lunch, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya
Welcome To My Office
Wink Wink, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya
Lion, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya
Giraffe and Clouds, Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
I Am King, Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya
Four Lions, Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara, Kenya
Three Giraffe, Singita Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania
Liftoff, Helicopter Aerial Flight over the Okavango Delta, Botswana
Our Mobile Shooting Platform, complete with custom brackets (and Andy Biggs Photo Safaris exclusive)
A Boat Cruise out on the Okavango Delta
Stretching Leopard, Okavango Delta, Botswana
North American destinations
Well, my year wouldn’t be complete without some trips to the American West and the Pacific Northwest, which I visited early on in the year, so here are a few images from Death Valley and the areas near Moab, Utah (Arches and Canyonlands National Parks):
The Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park
Juniper, Arches National Park
Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park
Valley Floor, Death Valley National Park
Valley Floor, Death Valley National Park
The truth is that my African travels were enough to fill up an entire year, but it didn’t end there. I guided 7 African safaris alone, and once you add in the Iceland trip and other North American trips I needed more time at home with my family, or at minimum more time with family out on vacation. Which leads me to……
Last, but not least, Leslie and I went on a no-kids vacation up to the Pacific Northwest. This was our first vacation away from kids in 3 years, and it was amazing. We spent time with friends and family in Seattle and Vancouver, and spent some time doing ‘research’ for my business at Sonora Resort, one of the most fabulous destinations I have ever been to. Seriously. If you are interested in a great balance of the outdoors, fine dining and pampering services this is the place for you. We went flyfishing, grizzly bear viewing, hiking, spa-ing and just about anything else outdoors, and I cannot wait to go back.
Sunset near Sonora Resort, British Columbia, Canada
To cap off this huge blog post, I thought it is worth noting that my kids have hearts of gold. During one of my trips to Africa, William had heard that there isn’t enough clean drinking water in Africa. So William took a bottle of water, wrapped it up and put it into the mailbox to send to me.
I look forward to another wonderful year in 2014, which will take me back to many of the same places in Africa, yet will add Antarctica, South Georgia and the Galápagos Islands to the mix. Bring ‘em on!
I really appreciate everything you did to make our Botswana safari a success. It exceeded my expectations in every way. The organization was very well done and I could not be happier with the landscapes and animals we saw, and the help you, Grant and our guides gave us to achieve the objective of coming back with some amazing photos. Our following the elephant in the water from the boat was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. Having a great group of fellow travelers was a bonus and added another layer to the experience, especially with those who were in my vehicle each day.
-Traveler, November 2013 Botswana safari
It’s time to announce yet another amazing photography trip! I have chartered a private motor yacht for a week-long cruise of the Galapagos Islands, limited to a group of 19 people plus myself. This will be my fourth time to lead a trip to the Galápagos archipelago, and I cannot wait to return to a place that yields such amazing photographs and experiences.
**update** The ship is already 50% booked, so please contact me if you are thinking of joining the trip. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leopard In The Rain
Okavango Delta, Botwana. December 2013
Nikon D800E, 300mm f/2.8, 1/500 @ f/4.5, ISO 800