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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 in Elephant (7)

Sunday
Sep282014

Trip Report Park 3: Amboseli National Park

 

Elephant Procession and Mount Kilimanjaro

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm

 

At the conclusion of our wildebeest migration safari in the Masai Mara region, I spent the next 4 nights in the Amboseli National Park region, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Amboseli region is well known for its elephant population, and near the end of the dry season it is particularly interesting for photographers who are looking for something other than photographs of predators. Amboseli does have a vibrant population of lions and cheetahs, however the areas best photographic opportunities are the elephant herds that migrate between the surrounding hills, forests and swamps.

 

Giraffes, Acacia Trees and Clouds

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens

 

My 4 nights in the area were a great opportunity for me to obtain more photographs of these elephants as well as giraffes, my two favorite subjects to observe in nature. My last trip to Amboseli was more than 10 years ago, and I am not quite sure why it took me so long to return. I will be offering trips to Amboseli in the future, possibly in combination with the Masai Mara, as an extension to the Masai Mara or perhaps even as a separate trip on its own. The key to working in the Amboseli area is having access to conservancy land that is owned by the local Maasai, similar to how I run my trips in the Masai Mara. The ability to position a game drive vehicle exactly where one needs it is immensely important to me any my customers, and this is the approach we took on this visit and will continue this on future trips of mine.

I am not sure how long it had been since I had captured as many frames that I was happy with in such a short period of time, other than on the primate portion of this trip as explained in Part 1 of this trip report. In 4 days I felt that I was coming back to camp each half day with images I was itching to download and check out on my laptop computer. It’s that feeling that feels so good.

 

Giraffes and Sunset

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 240mm lens

 

Elephant Herd Fill-Up

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 240mm lens

 

The Eye

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens

 

Fill-Up

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens

 

Stare-Down

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens

 

Three Elephant Babies

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens

 

 

Thursday
Jun212012

Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 18

You guessed it: up at 5:30, coffee at 6 and out shortly after that. Since the male cheetah has been seen almost every day since our arrival, we decided we needed some more opportunities to get him in the warm early morning light.

We spent the first 30 minutes doing nothing but looking for and analyzing tracks in the southern part of Singita. We didn’t see a single track of any of the three big cats: lion, leopard or cheetah. We stopped at a tower of giraffes (a gathering of giraffes that are walking are called a journey and a standing one is a tower) and within a few seconds we realized that they were fixated on something to the north of them. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the male cheetah was walking towards us at that moment. We had to reverse back a few hundred meters to get Lawrence back into the vehicle, as we wanted to make sure that the cheetah didn’t see him move from the tracking position to one of rows of seats. After getting Lawrence in the vehicle we drove forward again to catch up with the quickly walking cheetah.

 

Claude always has a smile on

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/30 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600

 

 

Photographing Wildlife on Foot

He visited many different termite mounds and downed trees, and we took the opportunity to shoot him in different types of light. It was probably one of the best and easiest photo opportunities I have had with any cheetah at any time.

 

Breakfast In The Bush

In the afternoon we decided to do some more walking amongst wildlife, and we decided to walk to a dazzle (yes, that is the technical term) of zebras. As we did yesterday, we paid attention to escape routes, wind direction and how the animals were dealing with our presence. On our way back to camp we tracked and located a leopard along one of the drainage areas near our camp. Initially we weren’t sure if we had seen this male before, but after he got up and walked we realized we were watching Kashane, the male that I have written about in my past entries.

We followed him for quite a while, until the sun faded away and we could no longer keep up with the fast-walking leopard. We broke off and headed towards camp, only to find a pride of lionesses a few hundred meters from the back veranda of camp. Nothing like watching lions from the deck.

 

Mother Elephant and A Nursery Of Three

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/800 @ f/8, ISO 800

 

Baby Elephant Charge

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1250 @ f/5.6, ISO 800

 

Held Back

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 800

 

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.

Wednesday
Jun062012

Sabi Sands Safari Report - Day 6

I am on a tight schedule today, so this post will be on the short side.

May through October are my favorite months to be in the Sabi Sands, primarily due to the combination of cool weather and lack of rain. Right now it is early June and the vegetation is beginning to dry out a bit and the weather is cooling down as we approach winter. Another reason why I enjoy this time of the year here is also that the days are shorter, and that means that the warm light is longer at the beginning and end of each day, due to the angle of sun in the sky. This is great for photographers, as we need all of the help we can get with regards to warm light.

We photographed a beautiful female leopard on south and north sides of the Sabi River, and some of us captured her jumping over rocks to get from the south bank to the north bank. We could tell that she was hunting, as her behavior on the north side was indicating that she needed and wanted food. We lost her for a bit in the dense brush, but we picked her up again after 30 minutes of heavy tracking. My preference is to photograph leopards walking towards the vehicle, and we only had one opportunity to do this before we disengaged to head back towards camp. The afternoon was filled with many sightings, and the one we spent the most time with was a pride of sleeping lions. They were in the tall grass, asleep, and never lifted up their heads during our two hours of sitting and waiting. After the sun had set we decided to leave.

 

Female Leopard On The Hunt

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/2000 @ f/4.5, ISO 400

 

Close Encounter

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400, Hand Held

 

Betty, Barry and Leon

Nikon D4, 24-70mm f/2.8, 1/250 @ f/7.1, ISO 250

 

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.

Monday
Oct242011

Photo of the Day - Elephant in the Savute Channel

 

Elephant in the Savute Channel

Linyanti Concession, near Savuti Camp, Botswana. July 2011

Nikon D3x, 28-300mm, 1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 800. Processed in Adobe Lightroom and Nik Viveza 2

 

This was a very tricky image to process, I must say. I was shooting with my Nikon D3x that afternoon, and the camera isn’t well known for its high ISO capabilities. I needed to keep the ISO down, possibly 1600 or lower, but the main challenge was trying to balance blowing out the details in the sky with the deep shadows of my subject. I could only minimally process this image in Lightroom, and the bulk of the work was done in Nik Software’s Viveza 2. In Lightroom I only adjusted the white balance, exposure, black point and a small gradient on the sky. I brought the image into Photoshop as a smart object, which allowed me to go back to the original raw file to tweak some of those settings. In Viveza 2 I worked on tonal relationships, and the main thing I needed to work on was the exposure on the elephant. There was simply no way of getting detail in the sky with enough exposure on the elephant, at least from a global processing point of view. Viveza saves the day.

Tip: If you are interested in learning more about Nik Software’s tools, you can use my code ABIGGS during checkout for a 15% discount. www.niksoftware.com

Thursday
Apr282011

Photo of the Day - Elephants in the Okavango

 

Elephant Family

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Canon 1DMk3, 100-400mm, 1/1250 @ f/5.6, ISO 400

 

Here is an image that was taken from a helicopter over the Okavango Delta, Botswana. I love to shoot aerial photographs, especially in and around the Okavango. I often take my safari travelers up in the air, as we are able to take off the doors of the helicopter and shoot away. I try and keep my minimum shutter speed at around 1/1000, as slower speeds start show some blur. Shooting wide open isn’t a big deal, because the subjects are far enough away where depth of field isn’t a concern at all. I have to make certain that my harness in the helicopter is extremely tight and won’t come loose, as it would be a loooong way down!

 

Here is a quick view with a 15mm fisheye, looking down from my shooting position.

Thursday
Sep092010

Day 22 – Tuningi Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Today was a little warmer than the past 3 weeks, and it was very welcome. The sun came out in full force, and the morning warmed up into the 70’sF rather quickly. I had forgotten what it was like to wear shorts, even though back home I haven’t worn long pants to the office in at least 4 or 5 months.

This morning was a little on the quiet side, so I am focusing this entry on the afternoon’s sightings. I really enjoy the winter’s dining schedule, because morning brunch is typically served around 9:30 or so, high tea is at 2:00 and game drives leave around 3:00 or 3:30. Dinner is usually at 7:30, which tends to be within 15 to 30 minutes after getting back from the afternoon game drive. This is great, because I am typically wiped out at the end of the day and there isn’t too much time to mess around after getting back from the game drive.

This afternoon we took off around 3:30, and headed back to one of the more productive watering holes. We were joined by Gerry Van Der Walt and his wife Adele, so it was nice to have a casual drive with friends today. Gerry is a great photographer, and he also runs Photo-Africa.com, a great web site for photo enthusiasts who also love Africa.

Immediately after our arrival at the dam, we found numerous family groups of elephants. There were two large families, one small family and then some sparring bulls scattered throughout. It was a virtual playground of elephants today! I really enjoyed sitting back and just watching their behavior, and how they organize themselves when drinking water. What I mean is that adult female elephants really do look after their young, especially when a family is clumped up together and drinking from a small water source.

My attention quickly went towards two sparring males, and I really enjoyed watching just how gently they pushed each other around, because when they fight for real it can be quite violent.

After the fight, we moved around and noticed three lions deep in the mud. They had obviously taken down an impala, and were ripping it apart. This was definitely a fresh kill, and the challenge was that they were a little far away and not at a good angle for us. We couldn’t get a better angle, so we just sat and waited for them to finish their mud-crusted meal. It took some time, but they moved off the carcass after a while and made their way into the thick bush. I was able to grab one quick shot of one of the lions up on a hill, and the lion was about as muddy as a lion could ever get. She quickly hurried off into the thick bush, and we headed for sundowner drinks after we lost them a few hundred meters into the bush. 

What a great day!

 

Bull elephants sparring at the watering hole

 

Bull elephants sparring at the watering hole

 

Three lions eating in the mud

 

The lioness, all covered in mud from head to tail. Only her eyes and a little bit of her whiskers were showing

 

..and she scuttles off into the bush

 

Adele, Gerry and Leslie take a break

Thursday