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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.





Entries in Ngorongoro (17)


Photo of the Day - Lilac Breasted Roller


Lilac Breasted Roller

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania


I have been digging through some of my Lightroom catalog images of the past few weeks, looking for images that need to be reprocessed with the latest Lightroom 4 processing engine. Here is an image that I took back in June 2006, and it is likely my favorite image of a lilac breasted roller. The lilac breasted roller is most striking when its wings are spread out, and I am always on the hunt for one who is on a perch near eye level in the hope that it will fly off in a side or downward direction as to get the tops of the wings. With this image I used a flash to stop the action, but I did drag the shutter a little bit to show a sense of action and speed. I could have used a high speed sync on the flash, but I decided to keep the shutter a 1/200 sec to strike the balance between sharpness and blur.


Photo of the Day - Lion on a Hood


Lion on a Hood (with a point and shoot behind her head)

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, 2007


Every now and then I look through my past raw files from years past to see if I have forgotten about any worthwhile photographs for posting. I am typically looking for interesting images, images that have something of value from a teaching standpoint or ones that just make me laugh. Well, this one just makes me laugh. Enough said.


Maasai Portraits from Troy Covey

Troy Covey, my assistant, shot some very compelling photographs of the Maasai last month when we were both in Tanzania. We spent some time at a Maasai village in the Ngorongoro Higlands, and I acted as Troy’s assistant with his lighting on the first afternoon there. I love Troy’s use of space in his panorama portraits, as it helps paint a picture of where the images were created.

The Maasai are a very colorful and proud people, and I absolutely love spending quality time with them. As many of my guests can attest to, we all crack jokes together, laugh together and have genuine cultural exchanges with each other. Heck, I even know some Maa so we can communicate without Kiswahili or English. Troy’s portraits reminds me that I need to get back to shooting more portraits of people, and his work inspires me to do a better job of it.










Tanzania Safari Summary

I have been back home from Tanzania for a few weeks, and I needed to finish up some family things before I sat down to reflect on my 3 weeks out on safari. Before I get into the overall summary of my two safaris, I wanted to break down some of the gear that was used on the 2nd safari. I wrote about the gear used on the 1st safari in an earlier blog post, so scroll back through the entries to find out what people used on safari #1.

On my second safari we had mostly Canon shooters, and I think I saw about every Canon camera that has been manufactured in the past 3 or 4 years: 1DsMk3, 1DMk4, 1DMk3, 7D, 5DMk2, 5D and a digital Rebel (I forgot which model). On the Nikon side we had 4 shooters, including myself, and we had D3x, D3, D3s, D700 and D300s cameras. We didn’t have any major malfunctions with regards to cameras, thank God.

On the lens front, we had the Canon 100-400mm, 500mm f/4, 300mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm lenses (a few wide angle lenses as well), and on the Nikon front we had 200-400mm, 500mm f/4, 70-200mm f/2.8 (VRI and II), 28-300mm and 70-300mm lenses. Again, no major issues at all with any of the lenses.

After shooting with Canon and Nikon equipment out on safari for the past 10 years, I have to say that there is no inherent upper hand by either Canon or Nikon, and it really does come down to personal choice. I think if money were no object for me I could talk myself into owning both systems. I switched to Nikon about 2 years ago because of the 200-400mm f/4 lens, but now that Canon will have their own flavor of that lens (with an included 1.4x TC, mind you) I would be happy with either system. I am dying to see when SONY will have their 500mm f/4 lens to market, as it was officially announced in 2010. With all of the factory issues going on in Japan I don’t have a foggy clue when we will see it. My hunch is that I will begin to see more SONY equipment on my safaris when that lens starts to ship to customers, and I have no doubt that they are going to play are larger role in the nature photography market as a whole. If I was SONY for a day, I would really want to get that 500mm lens into the hands of working wildlife photographers before it goes to market (wink wink), as imagery from the field to help support the broader marketing plan would be a good move.

OK, on to my overall feeling from my past two safaris. To sum up the 3 weeks, I have to say that these two safaris were some of my best days spent on safari. Ever. We had 4 kills in 24 hours, we had dramatic light, we had views of the enormous migration, great lions, lion cubs, cheetahs, leopard, calving wildebeest / gazelle / zebra, breathtaking scenery, great guides and accommodations. What made me the happiest was watching the smiles on all of my travelers’ faces throughout each day. I think I identify myself more as a teacher than anything else, because I do live my experiences through the eyes of others.

One of the questions I have a difficult time with is: “which safari destination do you like the most?”. The first thing that I think of is how a mother or father feels about their children, and how each is different in so many ways. I feel like Tanzania is my home, as it was my first safari destination. I also love Botswana for the remote Okavango Delta, South Africa for the Sabi Sands and Tswalu, Namibia for the entire desert wilderness, Kenya for its dense wildebeest herds and Rwanda for its Mountain Gorillas. I love it all, and I cannot wait to get back to Africa in July. And then again in September. And then again in February. And so on, and so on.


Safari Update - Serengeti

We drove around the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater early this morning, and as we lost elevation on the way down to the Serengeti plains we lost the green vegetation and cool highlands air. There is a section of whistling thorn acacia bushes that routinely have grazing giraffes, and today had a very nice congregation of them on both sides of the road. As a side note, I love shooting them in this area, as I am able to put the Serengeti plains as the backdrop.

We had some water on some of the roads heading down, and I can definitely feel that the long rains are almost here. It did rain both evenings when we were at Gibbs Farm, and it rained when we were in Ngorongoro, and now signs of recent rain in the southeastern Serengeti. Good news, for sure.

We made it to the Ndutu area in the late morning, and we ate a picnic lunch under a large acacia tree, which overlooked Lake Masek and its flamingos. After lunch the cyclone of water began. I mean really began. We had a solid wall of water around the swamps west of Ndutu, and our vehicles were sliding sideways because of the heavy rain and mud. I haven’t been in a rain like that in many years, and it was awesome.

The drive from Ndutu to Kusini was, well, interesting. The solid wall of rain and wind followed us almost the entire way, and I wasn’t able to take a single image today. Not a single image. The rain was so hard it would have ruined all of my gear, so it wasn’t worth it.

The Kusini area has some amazing granite kopjes, and the Kusini Camp is settled on top of one. We arrived around 5pm, as we couldn’t continue our game drive any longer due to the rain. Since arrived before sunset, we all showered and came and enjoyed one of the most amazing sundowner dinks on top of their central kopje. The staff placed large pillows near top for each of us to sit on, and hoisted up a drink cart for the serving of drinks. It is the small touches that matter in the hospitality industry, and the staff here have it nailed to a ‘T’.

After our gorgeous sunset, we had appetizers around the fire, and finished with dinner in the dining room. Not much else to add, other than today was a great day, even though I didn’t take a single photograph.


Safari Update - Ngorongoro

I think my guests were itching to see the Ngorongoro Crater, as everybody was rearing to go very early this morning, with no stragglers. I rarely have people who are late for game drives, and today was absolutely no exception.

We spent the bulk of the morning with lions, wildebeest, zebra, hyena and black rhino, however the absolute highlight was a pair of adult male lions right next to our vehicle. It is difficult to explain the feeling I get when I am only a few feet from such large predators, and today really hit it out of the park. They were walking, lying down, sitting up, you name it. We had different looks every few minutes. Our heading into lunch had many happy smiles on faces, for sure.

After lunch the awesome weather continued, as we had warm, direct light early, then soft light and spotty cumulus clouds for the afternoon, and then warm light at the end of the day. The highlights for me were 2 sparring male zebras, as well as 2 adult cheetahs only a few feet from our window. I blew hundreds of frames on my D3 as the zebras reared up onto their hind legs and tried to bite each other.

Ngorongoro is one of those wildlife destinations that rarely disappoints, and today was another day in paradise. I won’t see the crater again for another year, as I have other safari destinations planned for the rest of this year: Botswana, Rwanda and Kenya.

Tomorrow we are heading to the Serengeti, and will be staying at Kusini Camp in the southern end of the park. Rumor has it that the wildebeest have moved north from Ndutu, and we hope to see them somewhere between Kusini and the Moru Kopjes.


Safari Update - Ngorongoro

Today is this safari’s last day of game drives, as my safari group will be going home tomorrow. We were up at 5:30, and we were ready to get to the bottom of the crater at 6am, when we are allowed to do so.

Again, we met up with the lion pride along the Munge River and spent a few moments taking inventory of what we had to photograph. We noticed that most of the pride was missing, so we looked around with our binoculars to see where the lion cubs were. We spotted a few lions up on Mawe Meusi (black rocks) and headed in that direction.

Well, we hit pay dirt. As we drove up all 4 lion cubs were running and jumping all over each other, while the adult females and 2 adult males ignored them. The show lasted for at least minutes, and this was one of those challenging photo situations where they would run behind and amongst tall blades of grass. Talk about autofocus hell. They wouldn’t stay still long enough to manual focus, so my approach was to bump the ISO from 800 to 1600 and stop down the lens to f/11. Why? Depth of field. If I missed my focus point I could rely a little bit on an increased DOF to bail me out.

The drive around Ngorongoro is amazing, because you think you are close to the middle, but you aren’t. You also see things in the crater that may be less common somewhere else, like lions hunting in the middle of the day. I like my guests to have their best day on their last safari day, so we worked hard to find something unique and uplifting. We watched the moments after the birth of a baby thomson gazelle, and sat and watched his first steps. Gosh, how amazing it is to watch the first few minutes of life outside of the womb. It took a little while for the little guy to get up, and once he was up his mother would walk a little to make sure he was getting strength in his legs.

I ran into some friends of friends today from South Africa, and you should check out their blog. They are driving across Africa in 70 days, and they are updating their blog on a daily basis. We chatted for a while in the middle of the crater, and we parted ways after a good chat. It rained heavily this afternoon, and I ended up taking 2 of my guests back to camp early as they were under the weather. The rain on my tent was one of those things that felt foreign to me, as I have spent the past 8 days on a fairly dry and dusty safari. Very refreshing, to say the least.


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.