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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
Jul092015

India Tiger Safari Trip Mini Report

I have been back from India for more than a month and I have had some time to reflect on the amazing trip. My 2016 trip has already been planned and is now being actively marketed, and now it’s time to do a quick write up with photographs to talk about what we saw, photographed and felt.

In May 2015 I made my first trip to India. It was a trip that was long in the making, and the purpose of the trip was to combine some cultural sites with wildlife and nature. At the top of the cultural sites was of course the Taj Mahal, and on the nature list was the majestic tiger. These two goals of the trip helped us piece together an itinerary that looked like this:

  • Delhi (1 night)
  • Agra (1 night)
  • Ranthambhore National Park (4 nights)
  • Delhi (1 night)
  • Bandavgarh National Park (4 nights)
  • Delhi

I don’t want to go through a blow-by-blow detail of each day, but describing the trip in broad terms is more of how I want this report to be talked about. First off, India is a HUGE country, with many different cultures, climates and cuisines. This trip was limited to the central part of India, and in future years I will be branching out to see even more. India is a place that will challenge you in many ways and excite all of your senses: your sense of smell, sight, touch and hearing. The colors are often bright and colorful, the large cities are loud and energetic, walking the streets can mean bumping around between people and the spices of the food overwhelming (in a good way). I loved it. I loved everything about it.

We split our time between two different wildlife areas: Ranthambhore National Park and Bandhavgarh National park. We spent 4 days at each park, and because they aren’t close to each other we flew commercially back to Delhi and stayed for a night in between. On my 2016 trip we are connecting to parks that are closer together, in order to minimize fatigue.

Our group had some great sightings of tigers in total, of which a few of them were off the carts in a good way. In between tiger sightings there were so many mammal and bird species to photograph to keep us busy. Those other species really made the trip special for me, as it helps me understand and area and how an ecosystem works. Seeing tigers in the wild really was a sight to behold, and they really are as majestic and regal as I had hoped they would be. Many of our sightings included younger tiger cubs that were quite playful, which made great sightings into excellent sightings.

Photographing tigers is very different than that of other big cats, in that much of the process involves tracking and waiting. In some of the places work in Africa we track and track and track until we find our subject, however in India we track until we get a good understanding of where the tiger(s) may be and then find the nearest water hole and hunker down for a while. Eventually the forest will make some noise and we will a better understanding of what is going on. It may be the sound of a chital, a bird or some other noise. It’s a fascinating process and one that paid off for us.

So here are some images that I captured along the way to help illustrate what the trip was all about, with short captions underneath each photograph. I am looking forward to going back in April 2016!!

-Andy

Luxury India Tiger Safari, April 2016

 

Tigress and Cub, Bandhavgarh National Park

 

Finishing Up Our Game Drive, Ranthambhore

 

Tigress, Bandavgarh National Park

 

Chital Deer (also known as spotted or axis deer), Bandhavgarh National Park

 

Beggar Girl’s Hands, Agra

 

The Tea Room at the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, with the Taj Mahal in the background

 

My private deck and view of the Taj Mahal from the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra

 

Tiger, Ranthambhore National Park

 

Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhavgarh National Park

 

Tigress and Cub, Bandhavgarh National Park

 

 

Tiger, Ranthambhore National Park

 

Peek-A-Boo

 

Floating Flowers, Oberoi Amarvilas, Ranthambhore

 

Samode Safari Lodge Lanterns

 

Samode Safari Lodge

 

  

 

 

 

Sunday
Jun212015

Photography Roundtable Podcast

 

 

Photography Roundtable podcast recently interviewed me about my photography business, safaris and other things about photography. It was an easy 30 minute discussion, and it was one of the better ones I have been a part of.

Going from 3 Auto Focus Points to Leading Safaris - Andy Biggs Episode 102

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