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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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Thursday
Mar192015

Oregon Coast Workshop Added, August 2015

 

 

Oregon Coast Photo Workshop
August 6-11, 2015

$2375, which includes accommodations (5 nights plus guiding and instruction)

 

I am happy to announce my Oregon Coast Photo Workshop, slated for August 6-11, 2015. This workshop is a field workshop, which means we are going to spend as much time in the field as possible. I am basing the trip out of Bandon, Oregon, and the workshop fee includes all accommodations and instruction. This is a trip I have been wanting to guide for many years, however my African travel schedule has prevented me from doing so. I found a gap in my schedule and made sure it was offered this year and I am extremely excited about this trip.

Please click on the details in the link above in the header, and drop me a line at info@andybiggs.com if you have any measurable interest in the trip. We already have some signups and would love for you to join me.

 

 

 

Sunday
Mar012015

Back Home From Tanzania

The 2015 year has been off to a busy start, as I guided a private group to Botswana’s Okavango Delta in January, and recently I was in Tanzania’s Serengeti for my first open signup safari for the year. Both were amazing safari experiences, and this is my first image to share in the new year. Enjoy!

 

Lion On A Rock

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

February 2015

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

Sunday
Feb012015

Fine Art Photo Processing Sessions! New Dates Added

I have been doing 1-on-1 sessions for quite a few years now, and the best feedback I have received from past participants is a willingness to spend more time in my studio past 1 day, without breaking the bank. Well, here is my plan for the rest of 2015 with this feedback in mind.

The Dates

  • April 6-8
  • July 14-16
  • August 25-27

The Plan

I am going to host a series of 3-day Fine Art Photo Processing Sessions in my studio in Houston. Each session will be limited to only 2 or 3 people each. We will work diligently on the processing of creating the absolute best quality images and prints possible. We will work on color images. We will work on images for black and white. And we will create proof prints and large prints alike. And you will go home with a large number of prints.

 

 

What Is Included

These 3-day sessions will include mid-day meals, all materials including ink and paper, and all you need to do is show up. I do prefer you show up with your own computer, as we will optimize your machine for the best color possible, which you will enjoy when you are back in your own environment. I have a *ton* of printing equipment from 13” printers all the way up to 44”. I am likely to have your exact printer model if you are using Epson, Canon or HP printers.

The Cost

These sessions are $1,850 each. I normally charge $950 per day, and since we will work in small groups I am able to reduce the price significantly.

Other Information

Here are just some of the topics we will cover:

  • Color management (how to definitively know your display and printer are properly calibrated and profiled)
  • Lightroom processing and workflow. This is my workflow, not a class on Lightroom functionality.
  • The use of Nik Software plugins
  • Soft proofing and how to correct your printing workflow if it needs correcting.
  • Black and white image processing and how to create dynamic B&W prints
  • What to look for in a good print and how to correct
  • Paper choices
  • Print sharpening
  • Upsizing and sharpening files for large format output
  • Editing images for a portfolio

 

How To Signup

Just email me at info@andybiggs.com and I can send you an invoice and additional details such as hotel recommendations. That’s it! I hope you will join me for some exciting times in my studio.

 

 

Wednesday
Dec242014

2014 Year In Review [Long Post]

I am now reflecting what a crazy year 2014 has been for me, both professionally and personally. I know I traveled too much away from home, and I say this every year. The single most difficult part of running my business is balancing the time needed at home with my needing to travel in order to earn and income. Since I plan my schedule 12+ months ahead, 2015 is going to be similar to 2014 with the quantity of travel, yet my 2016 year will likely have less travel for me. I absolutely love what I do for a living, and am looking for a better balance so I can stay healthy (mentally and physically).

Camera Equipment

2014 was the year that I sold 100% of my Nikon 35mm equipment. Yes, all of it. As I wrote in an earlier blog post this year, I have moved to medium format gear from Phase One. The first half of the year I was shooting with their IQ280 80 megapixel digital back, and mid-year I switched to their new 50mp CMOS chip product. I am now able to shoot a much higher ISO’s (up to 3200), have better control of my depth of field and also have more frames per second. We aren’t talking 35mm speed, but good enough for me.

International Travel

I started off the year with a safari in Kenya, during its off season time of the year. These off season months are my preferred times to be in the Masai Mara, due to the few vehicles and abundant resident (non migratory) wildlife. The plains have very few vehicles out and about, and thus game drives are much more private. In April I spent the entire month in Namibia, guiding a pair of overland landscape workshops. Namibia never disappoints, and these overland trips were no exception. We had dramatic weather, great light and fun people to travel with. Since 2006 I have logged more than four months of time shooting in Namibia, and I still feel like I have only scratched the surface. I may decide to return in 2016, and if I do it will likely be another overland trip to some destinations that rarely visited.

June found me in the Galápagos Islands, a place that I have visited many times before and always enjoy. I chartered a private motor yacht for the group and we visited most of the islands in the eastern side of the archipelago.

In August I guided a pair of trips in East Africa, beginning with my Great Apes safari to Uganda and Rwanda. We trekked with wild chimpanzees in Uganda for three days and then trekked for mountain gorillas in Rwanda for another three days. It was my first trip with the new Phase One IQ250 digital back, and this meant I could use it in low light situations, hand-held. At the conclusion of the Great Apes trip I co-guided a safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara with good friend and über guide Grant Atkinson. After I finihsed up in the Masai Mara I then headed over to Amboseli National Park region to photograph herding elephant with Mount Kilimanjaro as a backdrop.

To top off the year I was down in the southern ocean, photographing penguins and icebergs. The 20-day expedition visited the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. The highlight of the trip was South Georgia, which hosts the largest king penguin colonies on our planet. We had hoped for one really good landing, and in the end we had landings at 3 of the 4 largest colonies. High fives all around.

2015 is going to be a fantastic year, filled with new destinations! Here is a quick roundup of my year:

 

 

 

 

My Office

 

The Boss

Masari Mara, Kenya

 

Intrigue

Masai Mara, Kenya

 

Intimacy

Masai Mara, Kenya

 

The Open Plains of Amboseli, Kenya

 

Stare-Down

Amboseli, Kenya

 

Elephant Migration

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

 

Drinking Elephants

Amboseli National Park, Kenya

 

Chimpanzee

Kibale Forest, Uganda

 

Chimpanzee

Kibale Forest, Uganda

 

Chimpanzee

Kibale Forest, Uganda

 

Chimpanzee

Kibale Forest, Uganda

 

Silverback

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Silverback

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

 

Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia

 

Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia

 

Aerial Photo Over Sossusvlei

 

Aerial Photo Over Sossusvlei

 

Aerial Photo Over Sossusvlei

 

Sea Lion and Pup

Galápagos Islands

 

Rise Above The Rest

Galápagos Islands

 

Iceberg and Sun

Cierva Cove, Antarctica

 

King Penguins And Surf

Saint Andrews Bay, South Georgia

 

King Penguins

Fortuna Bay, South Georgia

Friday
Dec122014

Beating Around The Bush, A Found Book From My Grandfather

My mother passed away almost five years ago, and after her funeral service we were going through her belongings in my parents’ home. In that process I found some really interesting things, and at the top of the list were my grandfather’s photographic equipment and books. My cousin had sent these things to my mother before she passed away, but for some reason I never received them. Since I didn’t have much time to do more than sort, pack up and throw out different items, I brought back these goodies and put them in my closet. They sat in my closet until recently, and one specific book caught my eye that required further investigation.

Beating Around The Bush by Clara Lee Brown was the book, and it decribed an extended safari that she had taken with her husband. I opened the book and quickly noticed that my grandfather had highlighted some passages throughout the book. These highlighted passages were obviously a way for him to help in planning a safari that he wanted to take, but never did. This is very poignant for me, as I guide photographic safaris to the same exact locations that he highlighted. My grandfather passed away in the early 1970’s and I didn’t have a chance to know him very well, and through this book I have a connection with him that I cherish. Call this book a baton, of sorts. A continuation of a passion for photography and for travel. I know that he was a Leica man, and I wish that I could have found his collection of rangefinder cameras that he once owned. Nobody in the family can figure out where they went, but at least I was able to possess his Weston light meter. How cool is that? To me it is extremely cool. This latent gift is my best Christmas gift for 2014, as it reminds me of how important family is, whether alive or deceased. And it reminds me to always seek out new experiences and destinations with a camera in my hand.

Pawpaw, I don’t remember you very much, but you have enriched my life more than you will ever know.

 


 

 

 

Wednesday
Dec102014

1TB External SSD Solution

I have been looking for a 1TB external SSD solution for quite a while, especially with a Thunderbolt connection, however nothing has been available that either could be found or that was ‘affordable’. So I went out looking for a custom solution that didn’t break the bank. If you are looking for something similar, here is how I made it work:

SSD Drive = Samsung 840 EVO (available on Amazon)

Enclosure = Anker USB 3.0 enclosure (available on Amazon)

The Samsung 840 Evo SSD drive is currently $439.99 and the case is only $13.99. This is the fastest, least expensive 1TB SSD solution that I know of. The reason why I need and want an external SSD is that I have recently retired my Mac Pro desktop in favor of using my 15” Macbook Pro as my daily machine. Since my internal drive on the Macbook Pro is only 750GB, I needed more room to augment the internal SSD. I have all of my raw files on an external 8TB G-Tech G-RAID and the Lightroom catalog, all previews and smart previews are on the new 1TB external SSD. Just for reference, I have 191,000 raw files and the entire Lightroom catalog and associated previews (standard, 1:1 and Smart Previews) take up 250GB of space. Since the space is limited on the internal SSD on the Macbook Pro I needed to look for more space. I am also using the external SSD as a Time Machine backup destination.

 

Samsung 840 EVO SSD drive

 

Anker USB 3.0 enclosure

 

 

Tuesday
Oct072014

Isle of Skye, Scotland Workshop Announcement

 Isle of Skye, Scotland: A B&W and Color Master Class

March 23-29, 2015

$4875

 

Scotland’s Isle of Skye is a dramatic island off of the west coast of Scotland. Skye has extremes: craggy rocks that merge with the sea and highlands with steep cliffs and spires that rise above the surrounding land and sea. The Isle of Skye combines beaches, rock formations, lochs and waterfalls all in one location. This workshop will concentrate on better b&w photography,  however we will also work in color when those moments are right for it. We will have weather that benefits B&W, as March is a great time of the year for dramatic light and atmosphere. This workshop is primarily a field workshop, however when there is time (depending on weather conditions) we will also go over black and white processing workflow and how it can be applied to your photography.

We organized this workshop for those who really want to dive deeper into their own creativity, who want to explore B&W as a creative avenue and who are looking to go home with a better sense of direction with their photographs going forward. Think of this workshop as a creative retreat, where you can free yourself from collecting photographs of trophy locations and then engage with your creativity. This workshop is as much about answering the ‘why’ questions as much as it is about the ‘how’ questions. Come and join us if you want more from your photography.

For more information, please visit the workshop information page:

Isle of Skye, Scotland B&W and Color Masterclass

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