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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 Rhino (4)


Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 16

Today was the first day where I started to feel some fatigue setting in. Game drives aren’t that tiring in and of themselves, but always being ‘on’ with my job as a photographic safari leader does create a need for some down time. I love what I do, and I absolutely love helping people get the best images possible, so I will try to figure out a way to get some down time in the next day or I will burn out.

Ok, on to today’s sightings!

The morning’s drive was extremely quiet, but one thing we noticed immediately upon leaving our camp was that we had clouds. The clouds meant the morning wasn’t very cool, and we welcomed dramatic light to our day. I love clouds, because wildlife photography can be much easier with the softer light, as we can shoot all day long without having to worry about harsh shadows. Change the white balance a bit and poof! Good colors and contrast can be tweaked to taste and there you have it.

We did see an adult female leopard with what we thought was the Kashane male leopard, but we didn’t get a long enough look of them before they took off into the bush. We did drive offroad for a while to see what was going on, but we had to disengage after a while due to the tall grass and thick thorn trees.

The rest of the morning was filled tracking activities, and nothing to report.



On our afternoon drive we followed up on the leopard sighting from this morning, and low and behold we eventually found them only a few meters from where we saw them last. It definitely was Kashane and an unknown female. What a guy, as he was mating with another female only 4 days ago. Insert your Barry White CD with some shakka shakka boom boom. Kashane is the man of the hour. The grass was super tall, so no easy photographs could be had this time around. I have actually lost count of the number of leopard matings we have had since we arrived 2 weeks ago.

We did have a crash of rhinos with some interesting sparring behavior, and we made sure we spent an adequate amount of time trying to make some good photographs. I have never had so many quality rhino sightings before, and I am glad to have something new to work on. The only photos I was able to be remotely happy with are the ones included in this post, and I do wish the other attempts would have worked out for me. This safari trip has been a challenge for me, because I don’t have much time to process any images. I want to post at least 2 to 4 images each day to illustrate what we are seeing and doing. This means my standards have to be reduced, and that isn’t something I am normally comfortable with. I just hope these blog posts help show what we are seeing and just how rich the wildlife experiences are.


Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/500 @ f/6.3, ISO 640


Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/640 @ f/6.3, ISO 640


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.


Tswalu Kalahari - My Experiences

At the end of my 2010 Predators of the Sabi Sands safari, I took some time to go and visit a property that I have wanted to visit for quite some time. The property is called Tswalu Kalahari, and is in the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Tswalu is a very large reserve, made up of more than 106,000 hectares, with excellent wildlife for the wildlife photographer and nature lover. Tswalu’s habitat and wildlife are quite amazing: a semi-arid environment of red earth and sand dunes, wide open skies, 230+ species of birds, 90 species of mammals and some of the most breathtaking scenery as a backdrop. Let’s go over some of the mammal species: sable antelope, roan antelope, giraffe, black rhino, Kalahari desert lion (awesome manes!), meerkat, brown hyaena, aardwolf, aardvark, ground squirrel, and tons more to keep one’s attention.

Background and Accommodations

The name Kalahari derives from the Tswana word “Kgala” which means “great thirst”. But the southern Kalahari, where Tswalu is located, is really a “green desert” as the Korannaberg Mountains attract precious rainfall in the summer months. The Kalahari has been the ancestral home of the San people, or Bushmen, for thousands of years. As hunter-gatherers, the Bushmen survived by tracking and hunting wild game with bows and arrow, gathering berries or desert melons and storing scarce water in the blown-out shells of ostrich eggs. The San culture and beliefs are rich and rooted in this land.

Tswalu is located in the southern area of the Kalahari Desert, on the South African side of the border

Historically the area has been both ranch land and hunting land. In 1999 Nicky Oppenheimer purchased Tswalu, extended the amount of land, and began restoring the land back to its original state. Tswalu has two different accommodation options: The Motse and Tarkuni. The Motse is the main location, which means “village” in Tswana, and consists of just eight spacious and secluded suites. Tarkuni is the Oppenheimer’s private home, and can accommodate up to 10 guests. I stayed at The Motse during my visit, and did take the opportunity to visit Tarkuni during some down time. Both are excellent and very comfortable, and I would love to stay at Tarkuni if I bring a handful of travelers with me, due to the more private setting. Regarding The Motse, 2 of their suites have 2 rooms, and myself and one of my guests used one of these rooms during our stay. The 2-bedroom suites have 2 bathrooms and a common area, and would work well for a small family of 2 to 4 people. It should be said that Tswalu is a member of the Relais & Châteaux collection of worldwide properties, which means you know you will receive excellent service, dining and accommodations. Tswalu has their own private airplane, a Pilatus PC-12, which only takes about 90 minutes of flight time to get to and from Johannesburg, and they also have service in and out of Capetown. There are other planes available, depending on need and availability.

The lounge are at Motse

Wildlife Wildlife Wildlife

Well, I am an African wildlife photographer, and I am driven primarily by photography than anything else. Tswalu’s wildlife is not what I would call a ‘big five’ experience, and is more appropriate for people who have been on safari before or who would like to experience species that are not easily seen in other places. I went to Tswalu to photograph meerkats, desert adapted Kalahari lions, black rhino and sable antelope. I did come away with wonderful images and experiences with all of these species, as well as with some other things that I did not expect. Here are just some wildlife experiences we encountered:

  • A crash of 5 white rhinos running a few feet from the side of the vehicle (was difficult to photograph, for sure).
  • Mating Kalahari desert adapted lions, and the male had a huge dark mane that is the most magnificent of any male I have ever seen.
  • Tracking black rhino and finding both mother and young calf together, only 10 meters from us.
  • Numerous visits to meerkat mobs (yes, they are called ‘mobs’ or ‘gangs’) to photograph them from many different angles and lighting situations.
  • Numerous sightings of both sable and roan antelope.
  • Dozens of bird species, and I especially am fond of all of the weaver species on the reserve.


Big Boy, my nickname for one of their magnificent Kalahari desert adapted male lions


Meerkat sunning himself in the morning light


Additional Information and Wrap-up

I visited in mid November, and based on what I know about the area I should plan on coming back during some of the warm(er) months. I am not sure that I will visit during the wintertime, as would like to have the big, puffy clouds on the horizon to contrast the red sand on the ground, and that needs to happen when the days are warm.

My experience at Tswalu was extraordinary, and one of the best combinations of service, dining, accommodations, wildlife and overall experience that I have ever experienced in Africa. This says quite a bit about how I feel about Tswalu, and how much I desire to return in future years.


Sunset over the Kalahari Desert, Tswalu


Setting up for dinner-under-the-stars in the Boma


A crash of five white rhinos, who took a few seconds to stop while I took a photograph. We drove next to them for a few minutes, watching them run parallel to our vehicle. What a blast.


Yawning lioness in the late afternoon light


Meerkats, all sunning themselves in the morning light


Photo of the Day


Rhino and Oxpecker

Mala Mala Game Reserve, South Africa. November 2010

Nikon D3x, 200-400mm f/4 VR, 1/640 @ f/4, ISO 800


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