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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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The craft of photography versus the art of photography

I have been battling the urge to abandon all of my 35mm digital equipment lately, in favor of more traditional equipment. The main reason is that I find myself wanting larger printed images for sale, and the only solution I can come up with is to move back to large sheets or rolls of film. I have this drive to create more unique images than what I share or post online, and when I look at the requirements to fulfill a certain vision or look, my current equipment doesn't seem to satisfy the end goal.

Case in point. How can I create black and white images that can be enlarged to 40x60"? The only thing I can come up with is that I need to go back to shooting with a large format camera. But talk about completely impractical for wildlife photography. I am moving away from the more literal color type imagery, in favor of more moody black and white images.

So I have come up with a plan for 2008. I am going to try to think in black and white as my primary driving force behind my images. I have purchased a Fotoman 6x24cm panorama film camera. I am going to shoot both film and digital starting this week in Tanzania. I have absolutely no idea what I am getting myself into with this huge panorama camera, but I think 2008 is going to be fun fun fun. I exposed film for the first time since early 2002, and although I don't prefer film, I can live with it if I am able to yield the results. The proof will be in the final prints that I am able to create.

I wasn't able to obtain all of the kit that I need for my safari that begins on Monday, but I do have a Fujinon 180mm lens for the camera. I have a Nikkor 300m lens, but I am waiting on the proper cone to arrive. Looks like the 300mm lens will have to wait until my Botswana and South Africa trip in April.


Lioness yawning on a kopje, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Canon 1DsMkII, 500mm + 1.4x, 1/640 sec @ f/8, ISO 400

A few days ago I decided to test some of the most common films on the market. I purchased four films: Fuji Provia 400x, Fuji Acros Neopan 100, Kodak Portra 400NC and Kodak Tri-x 400. I do envision that all of my images will be in black and white, but I just don't know. I ultimately decided on the Fuji Provia 400X for soft light and Kodak Portra 400NC for contrasty light. My friend Danny Burk is my preferred person for the scanning of these huge pieces of film. 6x24cm is extremely wide, and only 3 exposures can fit on a full roll of medium format 120 film. I will be taking roughly 20 rolls of film, so only 60 exposures in total.

I really don't know what has gotten inside my head, but I have a certain 'look' that I am dying to play around with. I also anticipate adopting medium format digital in 2008 if all goes as planned. I am in search of larger file sizes, larger prints and a new look to my images. We shall see. In the end this panorama project may not work out at all. But I will feel better that I at least tried it out.

Wish me luck.


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Reader Comments (5)

IP: awallace2@satx.rr.comURL: http://Good for you Andy! This means you are listening to that inner voice that so many of us do not hear.. or simply just ignore because we are too caught up with other things. I remember going into a Thomas Mangelesen gallery and being stunned by those massive 60 inch wide prints. I see where you are going... and it is a beautiful place. :) I know your new work will be great. Good luck.

Andrew Wallace
January 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Wallace
IP: andybiggs@gmail.comURL: http://www.andybiggs.comThanks for the bid of confidence, Andrew. I really only expect to use this camera once or twice each day at most, which means my 9 or 10 weeks of safari time each year might not yield very many keepers. I will be happy if I am able to amass 6 images each year that stir my soul. We shall see, though. I do have an internal compass which is steering me in a totally different and unknown direction. This all came about from a major licensing deal that I signed a few weeks ago with the largest garment retailer on the planet, The Gap, Inc. I will announce the deal on my blog when I know what they are going to use the images for.
January 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Biggs
IP: pbiedenharn@comcast.netURL: http://Andy,I look forward to seeing your work in the new format. I shot B&W for 30 years before Digital hit the mark and I switched. I know how you feel about B&W. I saw the Ansel Adams retrospective in Las Vegas last year and started dreaming in B&W.Have a great safari and remember to feed your “Rat”. Also take this to heart. Just when you think you have the rat race beat……….faster rats. It’s a good thing.

January 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPbiede
IP: gvanderzwan@wenvh.nlURL: http://www.colourfull.euAndy,

Change is a good thing! Keeps you fresh to reinvent yourself. I have no idea what that new camera of yours will bring, but I'm very curious... In anyway I'll need a very wide screen to appreciate the outcome ;-)

I wish you all the luck in this world and hope you find the look that you're looking for!

January 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGiedo

Andy Rouse used the Medium Format Pentax 645NII on his trip to Africa and Madagascar. He was satisfied with the Auto Focus performance, and very happy with the metering. He writes about it, in the book “Life in the wild – a photographers year”.
Andy Rouse used the 645NII handholdable on a beanbag, with 45-85 f/4.5 and 300 f/4, to take photos of rhinos, and lemurs.

Michael Reichmann has also used the 645NII for wildlife.
It also does film imprinting, so along the negatives, the EXIF info can be seen.

And Reichmann has even used the Pentax 67II, for wildlife too. Both are rugged field use cameras. (The 67II doesn’t have Auto Focus though)

Lenses used, have been the 300mm f/4 ED(IF), 400mm f/4 ED(IF), 600mm f/4.

He has even tried the 800mm ED(IF)

When it comes to Black & White photography, I don’t think digital quite touches film for feel, rendering and special mood. It does have a different look.

The Pro Chris Wilson, has also used the 67 and the 645NII I believe, to take pictures of the Japanese Macaque; the legendary snow monkeys :

A great site you have. Whatever you choose, I’ll be looking forward to the results. Your technique section is top notch too.

Kind regards

January 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSune/(Jonson PL)

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