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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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Depth of Field and Angle of View

A few months ago I wrote an article about depth of field and how I approach what f/stop to use for a given situation. However, this isn't the end of the story. Sometimes I have ISO limitations, shutter speed limitations or shooting position limitations. Shooting position limitations? You bet. I think of my safari vehicle as a huge tripod with four wheels. I am never perfectly happy with any shooting position, so I find myself needing to move the vehicle forward or backward to tweak my composition.

However, sometimes I cannot move backward or forward. I might have trees in the way or other safari vehicles. To improve my shooting position, I also consider the difference between shooting from the window or from the pop-top roof in the Land Rover. I do prefer to be at eye level with my subjects, so I often move to the window position. The difference in 3 feet of height can be quite significant. Here are a few benefits:

Background becomes more out of focus, as distance from subject to background is greater. Think about it. If you shoot from a steep angle down at a subject that is lying on the ground, like the image below, you will have the grass on the ground much closer to the lens. If you shoot from a lower position, you are now shooting with the background much farther away. So you end up with a smoother, softer background.

The connection between you and your subject is much more intimate.



Shot taken from the top of a Land Rover

400mm f/4 @ f/5.6


Shot taken from the window of a Land Rover
400mm f/4 @ f/5.6
Notice the much softer, smoother background.


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Reader Comments (5)

IP: gvanderzwan@wenvh.nlURL: http://www.colourfull.euHi Andy,

I completely agree with your observations on this point. For me though it is much more than the blurred background... being on eye level or even lower (I sometimes open the door of the Toyota land cruiser - which is I believe slightly higher than a landrover) and crawl on the floor to get a low viewpoint) creates an image that shows more of the natural surroundings; trees, kopjes or even the sky with clouds.Images from the top of a safari vehicle can turn out a bit boring with all that grass in the background.

I can't post an example from what I mean or can I?

best regards, Giedo
February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGiedo
IP: andybiggs@gmail.comURL: http://www.andybiggs.comGood thoughts, Giedo. If you send along a jpg file to my email address, perhaps we can add your image(s) to illustrate.
February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Biggs
IP: kari@karipost.comURL:Great tip, Andy, and the example images illustrate your point beautifully. While my sedan isn't great for off roading by any means, I'm often glad I have the lower profile when on paved or gravel drives at wildlife refuges because I prefer the lower shooting angle as well.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKari Post
IP: hans@hanskruse.comURL: http://www.hanskruse.comCompletely agree. Here is one from a late afternoon in Kgalagadi In this case the terrain was a bit higher than the road so we were at eye level with the lion.
February 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterhkruse
IP: rwjohnson11@gmail.comURL:Good info, the original article is great and very useful, especially in deciding on what lenses to eventually purchase. Thanks!
April 19, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRich

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