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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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A photo shoot with the Maasai

In between my two safaris, I had exactly 24 hours off to relax, review some photographs, sleep late and get ready for my next safari. Did I do this? Uh, no. I somehow chose to burn the oil and head out to the bush to meet up with a wonderful group of Maasai, take some photographs, and learn about how they are actively participating in managing their resources for future generations.
A friend came and picked me up, we grabbed some picnic food at a local market (and some Kilimanjaro beers, of course), and headed out. I had my friend Al Vinjamur with me, as well. The goal for me was twofold: to enjoy a relaxing day of mixing in with some of the Maasai, and to capture some nice portraits on a borrowed Hasselblad H2 / CFH39 medium format camera setup. The CFH39 digital back captures near full-frame 6x4.5cm digital images, and has a native file dimension of roughly 5400x7200 pixels. That is 39 megapixels, which is stunning if used correctly.

We arrived in the late morning, and were greeted by the head of the village. He had already arranged for 12 young Maasai women to pose for us, and they were sitting underneath a very large baobab tree waiting for us. We also asked for some morani warriors to be available once we were finished photographing the ladies.

I chose not to introduce artifical light into this session, as I was not familiar with the flash system on the Hasselblad platform. On my next return to the area in June, I will likely be bringing a single Profoto strobe system with me. Their new Acute 600B system is very very enticing, as the battery pack weighs less than 11 pounds. My other alternative will be to bring a Quantum Qflash setup with me, which is much smaller and lighter, but only packs about 320watts. Not quite enough for what I want to accomplish in the midday sun.

For my shoot, I setup three different scenarios. For the first scenario, I brought the Maasai women out into the harsh light, but had an assistant hold a 42" Photoflex diffuser over each of their heads and shoulders. This allowed me to capture them without them having to squint, and it also accomplished the goal of softening the light. I also had a 42" Photoflex 5-in-1 reflector with me, but we could never arrive at a fill light that didn't overpower their eyes, causing squinting. So we bagged the 5-in-1 and went about the shoot.


For the second scenario, I just positioned my subjects underneath a large baobab tree. The dappled light seemed to work well, so I just went with that.

I had a wonderful day, and have a better idea of what I will do differently upon my next return in a few months. Sometimes diffusers and reflectors aren't enough, as this limited what I was able to do out in the field. Photographing dark skin in harsh daylight is about as tricky as tricky can get. I have been avoiding studio strobes for a while now, but I cannot avoid them any longer. Perhaps I will look into more powerful strobes, so I can add the possibility of shooting 4x5 sheet film. Why so much light? Because one needs enough depth of field to have a subject's eyes, nose and ears all in focus. With a 150mm lens, which is considered a normal lens on a 4x5 large format camera, the depth of field needed at 6 to 8 feet away will dictate stopping down to about f/16, which will require very bright strobes in the midday sun.

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Reader Comments (2)

IP: pschulze@digitrain.comURL:Thanks for sharing these portraits. The head dress on the women is really interesting. patti
February 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpatti
IP: jrlimages@hotmail.comURL:Enjoy checking your blog periodically; always get envious when you head off on another Safari. The portraits are very nice.I've ordered a custom PC with Vista so I can start to learn more about processing; still hoping for another Safari someday when I improve my skills. Look forward to seeing a few pics from the recent Safaris..thanks for all the great info!!
February 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjrl001

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