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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.





Entries in Kenya (12)


Trip Report Park 3: Amboseli National Park


Elephant Procession and Mount Kilimanjaro

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm


At the conclusion of our wildebeest migration safari in the Masai Mara region, I spent the next 4 nights in the Amboseli National Park region, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Amboseli region is well known for its elephant population, and near the end of the dry season it is particularly interesting for photographers who are looking for something other than photographs of predators. Amboseli does have a vibrant population of lions and cheetahs, however the areas best photographic opportunities are the elephant herds that migrate between the surrounding hills, forests and swamps.


Giraffes, Acacia Trees and Clouds

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens


My 4 nights in the area were a great opportunity for me to obtain more photographs of these elephants as well as giraffes, my two favorite subjects to observe in nature. My last trip to Amboseli was more than 10 years ago, and I am not quite sure why it took me so long to return. I will be offering trips to Amboseli in the future, possibly in combination with the Masai Mara, as an extension to the Masai Mara or perhaps even as a separate trip on its own. The key to working in the Amboseli area is having access to conservancy land that is owned by the local Maasai, similar to how I run my trips in the Masai Mara. The ability to position a game drive vehicle exactly where one needs it is immensely important to me any my customers, and this is the approach we took on this visit and will continue this on future trips of mine.

I am not sure how long it had been since I had captured as many frames that I was happy with in such a short period of time, other than on the primate portion of this trip as explained in Part 1 of this trip report. In 4 days I felt that I was coming back to camp each half day with images I was itching to download and check out on my laptop computer. It’s that feeling that feels so good.


Giraffes and Sunset

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 240mm lens


Elephant Herd Fill-Up

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 240mm lens


The Eye

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens



Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens



Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens


Three Elephant Babies

Phase One DF+, IQ250 digital back, 75-150mm lens




Trip Report Part 2: Luxury Great Migration in the Masai Mara


Sunset Over The Masai Mara

Phase One DF+, IQ250, 240mm lens


After the conclusion of our Great Apes Photo Safari, some of the travelers joined me and my co-leader Grant Atkinson in Kenya’s Masai Mara for my Luxury Wildebeest Migration Photo Safari, which I run each year. There are very few locations in Africa that rise to the level of quality wildlife sightings that the Masai Mara offers, and its rolling and wide open plains is filled with such a quantity and quality of wildlife that it is beyond imagination. I run this migration trip every year, usually in the month of August or September, to coincide with the arrival of the wildebeest and related species in Kenya’s Masai Mara.

Background on the Wildebeest Migration

There are roughly 2 million wildebeest (the white bearded wildebeest, specifically) in the greater Serengeti / Masai Mara ecosystem, and these mammals are always in search of fertile grasses to feed on. This ecosystem is split between Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Kenya’s Masai Mara (it should be spelled Maasai Mara, but that is a topic for another time). This migration occurs twelve months out of the year, and they typically move in a clockwise direction between these two parks. There are other animals who migrate with the wildebeest: zebras, grant’s gazelle, topi and dung beetles.

There is no start or finish to this migration, but rather it can be described as ongoing and never ending. This migration typically arrives in Kenya’s Masai Mara in late late July and they depart sometime in October.


At Attention

Phase One DF+, IQ250, 240mm lens


When I run these migration trips in Kenya I prefer to stay in areas where I have fewer vehicles, an ability to drive offroad and accommodations that exceed all expectations. Life is too short to watch wildlife with hordes of vehicles, and the Masai Mara is a challenging place to avoid vehicles when out on game drives. My solution is to base myself on conservancy land, just outside of the Masai Mara Game Reserve boundary, where the lion density is higher and sightings are much less crowded. Yes, my migration safaris are more expensive than my competition, however my guests get better returns in so many ways: better wildlife sightings, more private wildlife sightings, offroad driving for specific photography angles, a better sense of being in the outdoors, the best guides in the industry, the best accommodations in the industry, open vehicles that have been setup for photography and a no-compromise approach to the entire experience. I have been running photographic safaris in Africa since 2002 and I have learned to always take the ‘no compromise’ approach whenever possible. I have no desire to subject myself and my customers to the lack of guiding professionalism that exists in many areas of the Masai Mara Game Reserve, and the conservancy land delivers everything I wish for and more.


Lioness and Cubs from the Eseketa pride


Our group of 13 assembled at The Emakoko, which is a small and intimate safari lodge, located on the edge of Nairobi National Park. My guests arrived on their international flights , were taken to The Emakoko and began their safari in style. Since the camp is located on the edge of the park, we could take safari game drives in the park if we didn’t want to spend time unwinding at camp. This is an excellent option for those who arrived a day or two early, as it put them in the safari mood as soon as they arrived.



We flew to the greater Masai Mara area on privately chartered aircraft, which allowed us more weight allowance per person as well as a flexible schedule. Upon arrival on Olare Motorogi conservancy land, we met our guides, camp staff and camp managers and we loaded our camera gear, luggage and ourselves into our game drive vehicles and set out to find some great wildlife sightings.

Over the next week we had so many great sightings, and what stood out were all of the lion cubs. Tons of lion cubs. We also had superb sightings of other big cats, grazers, browsers and birds of prey, however the lion cubs certainly stood out in my mind. Since I was driving for much of the time, I didn’t raise my camera too often due to being on the opposite side of the vehicle as the photographers who were in my vehicle, however the sightings were just as rich in my mind as those who were captured them on their cameras.

When it comes to camera gear, I used the following:

  • Phase One DF+ camera
  • Phase One IQ250 50mp digital back
  • Phase One 75-150mm
  • Phase One 240mm
  • Canon 5DMk3 (rented from
  • Canon 70D (rented from
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II (rented from
  • Canon 1.4x III  (rented from

When it comes to the gear that our guests used, by far the most popular lens was the new Canon 200-400mm f/4 L IS. Out of 13 people I think we had 6 or 7 of them on the trip. That’s a huge percentage. In past years we have had a steady balance between Canon and Nikon users, however on this trip we had only 2 Nikon users and the rest were with Canon. I haven’t seen those kinds of numbers since before Nikon had the D3 / D700 bodies, which would be around 2005 or 2006. I wonder if the tide is turning towards Canon for wildlife shooters? I just don’t know.

I tended to use the Phase One setup most often, however there were some situations when I needed more focal length or faster autofocus and I used the Canon gear. I was pleasantly surprised with just how usable the Phase One gear was, as the new IQ250 works so well with ISO values up to 1600, 3200 or even 6400 in a pinch. I have been using an IQ280 80mp digital back, which I have limited to a maximum ISO of 400, but prefer to keep it to 100 or 200 if at all possible. The new IQ250 is 50mp and is based on a CMOS chip design, which is new for Phase One, and the product is much better for the style of wildlife photography that I create. I was pleasantly surprised and may be making the switch over to the IQ250 for all trips going forward.

We have already planned out our 2015 wildebeest migration safari and I will be publishing the trip very soon. If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible, as 50% of the spaces have already been pre-booked. The itinerary is exactly the same as this year.



Phase One DF+ camera, IQ250 digital back, Schneider 240mm lens and 2x teleconverter on a Gura Gear bean bag


Our vehicle setup, with shooting platforms


Yours truly


Sub adult lions

Phase One DF+, IQ250, 240mm lens. ISO 6400!!




Back to Africa

I am shoving off for yet another adventure in Africa, and this time I will be guiding two back-to-back safaris between three different countries. My first safari will be my Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees: The Ultimate Great Apes Photo Safari. We will begin with trekking with chimpanzees in Uganda, and then ending with trekking with mountain gorillas in Rwanda. At the conclusion I will then head over to Kenya to guide my Luxury Great Migration Photo Safari, in hopes of capturing some beautiful sights out on the open plains of the greater Maasai Mara. And if that weren’t enough I will be finishing my trip in Amboseli National Park, where I haven’t visited in many years.

As far as gear goes for this 3+ week long trip, I am bringing a combination of medium format and 35mm gear. As you may know, I sold off all of my Nikon camera eqiupment earlier this year as I moved to Phase One medium format. This trip has some challenges that medium format may not be able to handle, so I am bringing a backup Canon system with me for either longer focal lengths or for ultra high ISO’s. Here is what will be in my Gura Gear Bataflae camera bag:


  • Phase One DF+ camera body
  • Phase One IQ250 50 megapixel digital back
  • Phase One IQ280 80 megapixel digital back
  • Phase One 75-150mm
  • Phase One Schneider 240mm
  • Phase One 2x teleconverter
  • Canon 5DMk3 + portrait grip (rented from
  • Canon 70D (rented from
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II (rented from
  • Canon 1.4x III (rented from


Phase One has graciously loaned me the new IQ250 50 megapixel digital back for the trip, and I can choose between the 50 and 80mp backs, depending on the situational need. The new IQ250 allows me to shoot at higher ISO’s, say up to 1600 or perhaps 3200, has a higher frame rate and is a slightly smaller chip in size (and thus a more narrow field of view is captured), and the IQ280 has a larger file size yet at the cost of only being able to use lower ISO values, like 50, 100 and perhaps 200 or 400. It’s the best of both worlds and I am going to feel spoiled.

The Canon gear is all being rented from This allows me to flip flop between Canon and Nikon systems on different trips, a wonderful bit of flexibility that I need in this day and age. Why would I want to have different systems on different trips? It’s easy: I want and need to communicate to my travelers that I understand the systems that they use and that I can understand how to setup and use their cameras and lenses.


Photo of the Day - Lion On The Plains


Lion On The Plains

Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya. January 2014


There is something so regal, so majestic, so beautiful about a male lion in his prime when his mane is waving in the wind. I have found that the angle at which one photographs big cats as the lie in the grass is extremely important. If the subject is showing too much belly you have to move the vehicle around to eliminate that view, and other angles may show an awkwardness to the way the animal is sitting or lying down. I didn’t have much of a choice with this subject, primarily because the background in this view was the best with the above angle of view. A well-positioned background is that extra step that a photographer needs to think about, as you do not want to have your background (or foreground) compete with the overall purposes of what the photograph is all about.

I did attempt to get a head-on shot of this male, however the sitted position and the background just didn’t work for me.

This is just my $.02 and how I tend to like to frame my photographs. What do you think?


Big Cats of the Masai Mara - 2 New Safaris for 2013

Today I am announcing a pair of safaris for 2013 that will excite those who wish to photograph all three of the 3 big cat species: cheetah, leopard and of course lion. I planned these safaris for the photographer who wants more opportunities to capture the Masai Mara’s big cats in their majestic environment. The safari will be entirely based at the best camp in the Mara ecosystem, Mara Plains Camp. Mara Plains in in the Olare Orok Conservancy, which has very few camps and also has offroading driving. We won’t have to worry about crowds or having to stay on roads to get our best photographs. I have to say that in my past travels to this area of the Masai Mara I have had my best opportunities to witness and photograph cheetah chases. On my last safari in March 2012 to the area we had numerous cheetah chases, leopards with cubs on multiple sightings, majestic male lions on top of hills with wind in their faces, and to top it all off we had the big cat trifecta of having all 3 species within view of our vehicle at the same time. This is just a taste of the things that we can see on this safari. Please join me.

Safari Highlights

  • Game drives in the private Olare Orok Conservancy (where our camp is located), bordering the Masai Mara, to the north. Unlike the Mara itself, this reserve is private to the very few camps located here, so we will not experience the larger crowds present inside the Mara proper. With this said, we will have the option of driving into the Mara each day if we decide to, although the game viewing is as good or better in the Orok. We will also have the option of returning to camp after dark since we are not subject to the rules of the National Park. 
  • We have private vehicles for the safari game drives, with only 1 person per row of seating (the vehicles have either 2 or 3 rows behind the driver, plus a seat next to the driver if you want to be lower down to the ground.) The vehicles are open 4x4 vehicles, allowing for unhindered movement for photography. 
  • Private and exclusive use of the safari camp.
  • Safari is limited to 14 participants, plus Andy and Chas as trip leaders.
  • Private air charters between Nairobi and our private camp in the Masai Mara region.
  • Extra luggage allowances to accommodate the special needs of our photographic equipment. The Nairobi-Mara charter flights will allow for an average of 30-35kg (66 to 77lbs) per person.
  • This itinerary focuses on up-close and real wildlife experiences from the surroundings of premier accommodations.


For a complete detailed itinerary, dates and costs I have two links:

Big Cats of the Masai Mara, May 22-31, 2013

Big Cats of the Masai Mara, May 30-June 8, 2013


Cheetah on a Termite Mound, March 2012


Mara Plains Camp at Night


Hot Air Ballooning over the Masai Mara








Leopard Jumping Through The Talek River

On last year’s September safari, which combined the mountain gorillas of Rwanda with the wildebeest migration in Kenya’s Masai Mara, we had great success with tracking and photographing leopards, lions and cheetahs. On this particular day we tracked down one of the more famous leopards of the Mara, who is simply known as ‘Olive’, and anticipated her moving across the Talek River.

We set up with our vehicles in one of the only places where we could have a clear shot of her, and luckily the light was in the best location possible. When I am photographing with water, rain, smog, fog or anything that fills the atmosphere I want to shot it off. The best way to do this is to place the light source, the sun, at an angle that puts the light coming towards the camera. This illuminates it in such a way that helps show it off, as opposed to hides it. I do prefer shooting into the sun anyway, as this helps define the edges of whatever I am shooting. Remember the adage “light illuminates and shadows define”. You don’t have definition without shadows, and without shadows you lose any sense of 3D to a scene.

We had just a few moments to set up, choose our best lens and camera settings and get the shot sequence. I set the camera to manual mode and selected a shutter speed that would freeze the splashing water and leopard, and whatever aperture did that would be fine with me. I took a quick exposure, looked at the histogram and made a quick change. I was more interested in getting the shape of the leopard than worries aboout blown highlights or ‘shadow detail’. Shadow detail is a term that drives me nuts, because it doesn’t reall mean anything and I hear about it all of the time in images that lack any contrast or soul. It all started when Photoshop introduced the Shadows & Highlights tool. But I digress. All shots taken with a Nikon D3x, 200-400mm f/4, 1/800 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 500.






Photo of the Day - Sunrise and the Lion


Sunrise and the Lion

Masai Mara Game Reserve, Kenya. March 2012

Pentax 645D + 300mm f/4, 1/125 sec @ f/8, ISO 200


Take a Photo Adventure on the Wild Side - with Andy Biggs and Laurie Rubin


Laurie Rubin and I recently co-ran a webinar, featuring Nik Software products. Laurie and I processed some images from our safari together in Kenya last fall, and we had a few laughs during the 1-hour presentation. Take a peek and hopefully a few nuggets of information will be of use to you.

Take a Photo Adventure on the Wild Side - with Andy Biggs and Laurie Rubin

Remember that you can earn a 15% discount on all Nik Software products by using ABIGGS as your code when checking out.