Social Networks and RSS Feeds
Instagram Instagram
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.





Entries in Giraffe (4)


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



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



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


Three Elephant Babies

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




Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 15

Dear diary:

Today we were chased by a bull elephant. It was really cool. It is amazing how fast a Land Rover can go with short notice. And it’s also amazing how fast adult male elephants can run when they are in musth.

Glad to be safe-


We did have a great morning with a bull elephant who turned out to be our most memorable sighting of the day. Whenever we got anywhere near him he would come out of the trees to ‘greet’ the vehicle, but we would back way off and try it a few minutes later. We were always had a safe escape plan, and also planned for his own escape route, but it was fun to approach him slowly from a distance just to watch his behavior. We never endangered ourselves nor did we intentionally agitate him and it was good fun to see how he would close the distance between us once he noticed we were somewhat near him.

We had a pride of lions just outside of camp, and when I mean outside of camp I mean 100 feet away from one of our rooms. They weren’t very interesting to watch, as they were just lying around passing the time until their next meal walked by.

We found a small journey of giraffe around one of the watering holes, and photographed them drinking water. It’s tough to get these types of shots, because one needs to be either right in front of them or to the side of them. All other angles just don’t work. You also need to have a high shutter speed to get the water dripping from their mouth as they pull their head away from the water, and I think 1/1600 is a good minimum speed to consider. I love shooting giraffes in this way, because you know they are relaxed enough to put their long necks down for a long drink of water. It’s difficult to shoot them, though, as the tendency is to use too much focal length and next thing you know it you cannot get their whole body and neck in your frame when they quickly lift their neck and head up from the water. The key is to back off with your lens selection, pre-focus on where the head is before they drink, wait for them to lift their heads and then fire away when they do finally come up. The resulting frames are interesting, due to the long stream of water that comes from their mouth. The best scenario is when that water stream is side or back lit, because the sun coming through the water will light it up like a Christmas tree. The light was to our backs, so this didn’t work out.

The highlight of the afternoon and early evening was the Kashane male leopard, as he patrolled the area just outside of the other side of camp. He vocalized his presence, which is a thunderous growl that can be heard far away. We photographed him coming towards our vehicle numerous times, as he would pass the vehicle and we would drive around in front of him for it to happen all over again. What a beautiful male leopard he was.


Yawning Lioness

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/3200 @ f/4, ISO 500


Two Giraffes

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/2500 @ f/6.3, ISO 1000


Kashane Male Leopard

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/200 @ f/4, ISO 1600


Kashane Male Leopard at Dusk

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/6 @ f/4.5, ISO 100


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 I rely on 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 to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.


Safari Update - Ngorongoro

I woke up 5 minutes before one of the staff came and brought hot water to the tent, and I cherished that 5 minutes of silence. The Ngorongoro winds were minimal, however the chill had settled in and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt alive this morning, as cool elevations often do, and once I was up and running I could not wait to get to the bottom of the crater. Uh, more like caldera. But I digress.

There is a pride of lions that hunts along the Munge River, and I often see them coming down from the crater’s edge at dawn. They hunt in the upper reaches of the northern Munge River at night, as their is a pasture that often has zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo at night.

Well, we had great success today, as we were down at the bottom of the crater by 6:15 and over at the Munge a few minutes later. They were already inactive by that time, but we did notice a fairly noticable wound on a male cub. Poor guy. He did have a full belly, but I don’t like to see wounded animals. That’s just how I approach wildlife viewing and I tend to have a soft heart in this area.

General game was found throughout the morning, from buffalo to zebras to large bull elephants. The main highlight for me was a serval cat who was hunting along side our vehicle. I haven’t seen a serval in a little while now, so it was a good sight to see. He was actively hunting and eventually jumped high in the air to come down and catch his prey.

We also came very close to a mother black rhino and her subadult, and this was likely the closest I have ever been to a black rhino in the crater.

On our way to Ngoitokitok spring for lunch we found a lone cheetah (a total of 11 so far on this safari) in the grass. He was actively hunting, so we moved off and eventually continued on for our picnic.

After lunch I went back to camp a little early to shoot some video of the Thomson Safaris camp, as I need some more marketing video clips that can be assembled into a 2 minute video for my web site.

I took the time to clean my gear, clean my sensors and download my images from the past 2 days. I often skip downloading for many days, as I work with the staff to make sure all goes as planned. This takes time away from my own photography, unfortunately. It is my job, though, and I really love it. I work hard for my customers and trust that it is noticed.


Day 23 – Tuningi Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Today was a day for giraffes and rhino, and when it comes to giraffe photographs I just don’t have enough great shots of my most favorite of mammals. One of the challenges when photographing giraffes is related to composition: a giraffe’s neck is so long that most of the time the long neck is intersected by a converging line in the background, the horizon. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the human brain has a difficult time with converging lines. An image that has discordant elements can often lead to an unsettling feeling to a viewer, even though the viewer cannot explain why they don’t respond positively to an image. Well, converging lines typically are not helpful in a photograph, yet these converging lines are omnipresent in nature photographs. Nature is inherently very messy. It is our job as nature photographers to try and make order out of chaos.

I have so many giraffe photographs in my library, yet very very few of them ‘work’ for me. Most of the time it is difficult to explain why, but an easy answer is that converging lines often spoil a photograph. Giraffes are typically found near their food source (duh), which are typically trees that are at least 3 meters tall. These trees often interfere with a clean shot. When I find giraffes away from their food source, they are either walking to another food source or water. My favorite photos of giraffes are when they are on the open plains, away from trees and bushes that can hide some or all of these majestic creatures.

Ok, on to today’s images. We spent some time photographing some giraffes at a water hole, and one of the challenges when photographing drinking giraffes is finding the best position to shoot from. If a giraffe gets nervous while drinking, it will stop drinking, lift its head and walk away. So one has to find the best position prior to drinking. My goal was to find a position that would accentuate the water that drips from the mouth of the giraffe, after the head comes up from the water. This requires side lighting to adequately illuminate the ‘slobber’, but we couldn’t line up the vehicle to make that work. The other challenge with this approach is that the giraffe head comes up from the water very very quickly, and would require at least 1/640 shutter speed to freeze the action. The background was fairly close behind our subject, and this also makes for a compositional challenge. The farther the background is away from the subject, the easier it is to blur the background. This can be a big deal, because a giraffe who is leaning down the drink often needs 6 to 10 feet of depth of field. If you are using a 400mm lens from 75 feet away, this may mean that you need to be shooting at f/11, f/14 or perhaps f/16 to make it work. These f/stops make blurring the background difficult if the background is too close to the giraffe.

Ok, enough technobabble. Here are some quick, unprocessed photos from today.

Note: All images in these daily blog postings are very very rough edits of the things we have seen, and I often omit the photographs that take too much time to process. I don’t take much time off during the day, as I am working with people with their photographic needs. All of my images in these posts will have to be re-processed when I get back home, and they are only included in these blog entries for illustration purposes only.


Giraffe drinking water