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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 Tanzania (57)


Back from Kenya and Tanzania


Cheetah on a Termite Mound

Olare Orok Conservancy, Kenya. March 2012

Pentax 645D, 300mm f/4, 1/1000 @ f/5, ISO 200


After a 3-week absence, I am back home with my family here in Houston. I had two amazing safaris, as I split my time between Tanzania and Kenya for each. The first safari in Tanzania was a published departure with 12 travelers, and the second safari in Kenya was a private safari that was not published online. I am sorting through my limited set of raw files, and I think I have some real keepers that I will be proud of. I mostly shot video on these safaris, and so I only came home with about 1,000 files from a borrowed Pentax 645D medium format camera.

There is a story in here that I need to tell about medium format digital for wildlife photography, and the short story is that the technology works perfectly for my needs. In the past year I have been seeking out a way to be able to produce bigger prints with more detail, better color and overall image quality. I have borrowed a Leica S2 system for my Antarctica trip, a Pentax 645D for these past safaris, and I will be using Phase One gear for one or more of my trips to Botswana and Namibia last on this year. I suspect I know what I will end up with in the end, but it has been a fascinating process so far.

I have the luxury of not having to shoot for anybody else but me, which means I can take a new camera system that might only yield 1 usable photograph per few days of work. That’s ok with me, because I would like to have only a handful of portfolio additions each year. Any more and it would exceed my expectations, but my expectations are quite low as it is. I would rather have a few amazing images that I can reproduce at any size that is requested than to say that a particular image can only be printed up to 16x24.

Time to get cracking on some raw files, a trip report, video footage and some sleep time in my own bed.


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.


Thomson Safaris 2012-2013 Catalog is Out



The Thomson Safaris 2012-2013 catalog is out and available. Yours truly has the cover this year, which is photo of a female leopard who is relaxing after a rather sumptuous meal (impala). Yum Yum. If you are interested in joining me on a Tanzania photo safari or to any of my other destinations in Africa, my Africa photo safari schedule can be found on my main web site at


Photo of the Day - Maasai Warrior


Maasai Warrior, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. February 2011

Nikon 85mm f/1.4, 1/640 @ f/2.5, ISO 250


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


Running Zebras

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. March 2011

Nikon D3x, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/50 @ f/14, ISO 200

Today was our final day out on safari for this safari group, and my final one as well. I thought yesterday was incredible, but today was equal if not better. We didn’t get 1 more lion hunting a wildebeest, we didn’t get 2, but we got a total of 3 takedowns in plain sight within a span of 20 minutes. It was incredible. So the total kills for this trip was 4, which is a better batting average than any given year since I started running safaris. Heck, I am lucky to see 1 in a year, much less 4 in the matter of 24 hours. Amazing.

I didn’t get many photographs of either the chases or final moments, so I won’t post any online for the time being. I need some time to judge the quality of the images. Keep in mind that I really do prefer to post hopeful looking images, so predatory action isn’t something that I am going to be quick to post anyway.

The entire rest of the day was spent near water holes, as that success worked for us yesterday and today. We didn’t see any more action of the predatory type, however I did take some time to help people work on their blurred panning shots of wildebeest and zebras running away from water.

Tonight’s dinner back at Bilila was extremely casual and fun, given today’s wonderful sightings. I could see that some people had the images they were searching for, and I cannot wait to see what they have taken today as well as during the entire safari.


Safari Update - Serengeti


The Chase

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. March 2011

Nikon D3x, 200-400mm, 1/1600 @ f/5.6, ISO 400

Ok, where do I even begin? Let me first start off by saying that I am not going to write down all that happened today, other than one amazing wildlife moment. It was a moment that is up there with my best wildlife viewing moments over the past 10 years of running photo safaris in Africa. It was that kind of cool moment. So here goes.

We saw a kill. A good one, at that. We were sitting at a good watering hole, watching zebras and wildebeest come in for water. After about half an hour we saw a huge splash in the water as a lioness came running out of the bushes to chase the subjects were just photographing. I completely missed the shots, as we were in a bad location to shoot the lioness, but we did track her down afterwards. We noticed she was very very interested in the wildebeests that lay beyond the water, and she started stalking back towards the water’s edge. We moved our vehicle into position to anticipate where she would hunt, and right as we settled down…….POW! She was chasing after a couple of older wildebeest in hopes of having a nice meal.

I grabbed a few frames before she ran within my minimum focusing distance on my Nikon 200-400mm lens, as you can see in the following frame.


Whoops. The minimum focusing distance on the 200-400mm is only 6 feet. Nothing like a lioness chasing a wildebeest only inches away.


The lioness grabbed the wildebeest by the throat only a few feet from the back of my Land Rover, and the struggle only lasted about a minute as the wildebeest was brought to the ground. We had to maneuver the vehicle to be able to shoot from the windows, as the lioness was still trying to finish off the job, so to speak. Autofocus was a challenge, for sure, as there was waving grass right in front of her face. I had to tweak the focus manually, as autofocus just does not work in these situations. The best thing to do is to tweak it manually and stop down a little bit to make sure that you have enough depth of field in case you missed the focus.


…And the final shot


Lesson learned: always be ready for the action, and always decide ahead of time which lens you are going to use. The 70-200mm would not have been ideal for the chase, however it might have worked when they ran by the vehicle. That wasn’t ‘the shot’ I was after, so my 200-400mm was chosen and I went with it.

The rest of the day was also amazing, but in a very very different way.