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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.




« Photo of the Day - Galapagos Islands | Main | Mahale Mountains National Park (Part 1 of 3) »

Mahale Mountains National Park (Part 2 of 3)

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise, ate a leisurely breakfast, and then our guides told us what the day's activities were going to be. We were going to split into 2 different hiking groups, and we would hike until we had spent up to an hour with the wild chimpanzees. A hike can be an hour or it can be 8 or more hours. I depends on where the chimps are in the forest. We got lucky on our first day and the troop was located by the park rangers and they weren't too far away. They were close to the beach, however they were a few kilometers to the south. That's easy, let's take the boat! :-)

The best and most appropriate camera gear for photographing chimpanzees in a dense forest is a camera with decent high ISO performance as well as a fast zoom. I took my Nikon D300 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. This wasn't ideal, and I replaced the camera with my Nikon D700 for my hike on the second day. I did shoot some images at ISO 1600 with my D300, however I really wanted faster shutter speeds or a tiny bit more depth of field. Lesson learned. Since no other photographic equipment was needed, I just hiked with the camera and lens over my shoulder with the camera strap. Easy.

On our first encounter we ran into an adult male by the name of Darwin. Darwin walked down a path towards us, and I only had a few moments to rip off a few photos. I remember my breathing pattern was hurried, as we were hiking in a hot forest for half an hour, and I also had a medical mask over my mouth. He stopped only feet away from us, and he completely ignored us. It was like we were invisible. And that is what I loved the most. He didn't feel threatened at all that we were there.



Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/160 @ f/2.8, ISO 1250




Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/250 @ f/2.8, ISO 1250

We spent an hour with at least 25 individual chimpanzees, and what struck me the most about them was how emotional they were. Raw emotion. I could easily tell the mood of each and every individual, and it made for excellent photography!


Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/160 @ f/2.8, ISO 1250


Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/320 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600


Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/200 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600

After our hike, we returned back to the beach and we took the dhow back to camp. A nice lunch was waiting for us, and after lunch I sat back and enjoyed a nice conversation with the camp staff. As the heat of the day set in, we decided that we would take the dhow out onto the lake for some cocktails and photography. What a combination.


Our afternoon boat ride on Lake Tanganyika


Sunset at Greystoke Mahale


We got back to camp right after sunset, and all I could think about was how amazing the day was. Walking with primates in a remote and pristine location made my list of things to do before you die. Wonderful dinner. Dead asleep by 9pm. Up tomorrow morning to do it all again. Oh yeah.

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Reader Comments (1)

WOW!!! Just added this to my Bucket List...

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTerry in Indiana

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