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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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Entries in Singita (19)

Thursday
Jul262012

Photo of the Day - Leopard In The Grass

 

Leopard In The Grass

Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa. June 2012

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/400 @ f/5.6, ISO 800

Tuesday
Jul242012

Photo of the Day - Cape Buffalo

 

Cape Buffalo Stare, Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa. June 2012

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/250 @ f/8, ISO 400. Hand held

Friday
Jun222012

Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 20 (our last day!)

Today was the last day here in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, and it was sad to do the last game drive of the trip. I am writing this entry from my seat on my flight back home on South African Airways, somewhere over the middle of the Atlantic ocean. My 17-hour flight can only be made up of so many bad movies with Nicholas Cage in them. UGH.

We had a sparse crew of takers for our last game drive, but those that went out were rewarded with good light and good sightings. What did we see? You guessed it: cheetah! Bird in hand, my friends. We were able to locate our friendly cheetah down by the break between Singita and Londolozi, and watched him pose on different trees for over an hour as he paraded around the open grass plains. The zebras nearby weren’t so thrilled, so that created yet another nice opportunity to have alert zebras in our frame.

 

Blurred Cheetah

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/5 @ f/14, ISO 100

 

Cheetah Peering Over A Log

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1000 @ f/3.5, ISO 1250

 

Cheetah In A Tree

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 800

 

Cheetah In A Tree

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1600 @ f/5, ISO 800

 

Curious Zebras

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1000 @ f/6.3, ISO 800

We were back at camp around 8:30, so we had enough time to pack up, eat breakfast, say goodbye to the amazing staff and shove off for the airstrip around 11am. I have led so many safaris in the past 10 years and know what it feels like to leave a place after a long safari, but this one was different in that I had a deep connection with Castleton and all who work there. Thank you to Claude, Marinda, Jane, Constance, Gloria, our guides Leon, Wade and Ricardo, and especially our trackers Johnson, Lawrence, Renneck and Emmanuel. You all are amazing people who make my business and enjoyable one. Thank you thank you thank you. Since Castleton is closing down at the end of this year, I will have to wait until 2014 when the new camp is built for me to return.

I am planning out my 2013 safari year, and if you have any interest for yet-to-be-announced safaris, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at info@andybiggs.com.

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.

Friday
Jun222012

Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 19

You guessed it: up at 5:30, coffee at 6 and out shortly after that. Since the male cheetah has been seen almost every day since our arrival, we decided we needed some more opportunities to get him in the warm early morning light.

We spent the first 30 minutes doing nothing but looking for and analyzing tracks in the southern part of Singita. We didn’t see a single track of any of the three big cats: lion, leopard or cheetah. We stopped at a tower of giraffes (a gathering of giraffes that are walking are called a journey and a standing one is a tower) and within a few seconds we realized that they were fixated on something to the north of them. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the male cheetah was walking towards us at that moment. We had to reverse back a few hundred meters to get Lawrence back into the vehicle, as we wanted to make sure that the cheetah didn’t see him move from the tracking position to one of rows of seats. After getting Lawrence in the vehicle we drove forward again to catch up with the quickly walking cheetah.

 

Giraffe Sunrise

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/400 @ f/8, ISO 640

 

He visited many different termite mounds and downed trees, and we took the opportunity to shoot him in different types of light. It was probably one of the best and easiest photo opportunities I have had with any cheetah at any time.

 

Cheeah On A Tree

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1600 @ f/4, ISO 2000

 

Cheetah On A Tree

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/640 @ f/4, ISO 2000

 

In the afternoon we decided to do some more walking amongst wildlife, and we decided to walk to a dazzle (yes, that is the technical term) of zebras. As we did yesterday, we paid attention to escape routes, wind direction and how the animals were dealing with our presence. On our way back to camp we tracked and located a leopard along one of the drainage areas near our camp. Initially we weren’t sure if we had seen this male before, but after he got up and walked we realized we were watching Kashane, the male that I have written about in my past entries.

We followed him for quite a while, until the sun faded away and we could no longer keep up with the fast-walking leopard. We broke off and headed towards camp, only to find a pride of lionesses a few hundred meters from the back veranda of camp. Nothing like watching lions from the deck.

 

Zebra

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/320 @ f/11, ISO 400

 

Kashane Male Leopard

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 400

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.

Thursday
Jun212012

Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 18

You guessed it: up at 5:30, coffee at 6 and out shortly after that. Since the male cheetah has been seen almost every day since our arrival, we decided we needed some more opportunities to get him in the warm early morning light.

We spent the first 30 minutes doing nothing but looking for and analyzing tracks in the southern part of Singita. We didn’t see a single track of any of the three big cats: lion, leopard or cheetah. We stopped at a tower of giraffes (a gathering of giraffes that are walking are called a journey and a standing one is a tower) and within a few seconds we realized that they were fixated on something to the north of them. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the male cheetah was walking towards us at that moment. We had to reverse back a few hundred meters to get Lawrence back into the vehicle, as we wanted to make sure that the cheetah didn’t see him move from the tracking position to one of rows of seats. After getting Lawrence in the vehicle we drove forward again to catch up with the quickly walking cheetah.

 

Claude always has a smile on

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/30 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600

 

 

Photographing Wildlife on Foot

He visited many different termite mounds and downed trees, and we took the opportunity to shoot him in different types of light. It was probably one of the best and easiest photo opportunities I have had with any cheetah at any time.

 

Breakfast In The Bush

In the afternoon we decided to do some more walking amongst wildlife, and we decided to walk to a dazzle (yes, that is the technical term) of zebras. As we did yesterday, we paid attention to escape routes, wind direction and how the animals were dealing with our presence. On our way back to camp we tracked and located a leopard along one of the drainage areas near our camp. Initially we weren’t sure if we had seen this male before, but after he got up and walked we realized we were watching Kashane, the male that I have written about in my past entries.

We followed him for quite a while, until the sun faded away and we could no longer keep up with the fast-walking leopard. We broke off and headed towards camp, only to find a pride of lionesses a few hundred meters from the back veranda of camp. Nothing like watching lions from the deck.

 

Mother Elephant and A Nursery Of Three

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/800 @ f/8, ISO 800

 

Baby Elephant Charge

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1250 @ f/5.6, ISO 800

 

Held Back

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1000 @ f/5.6, ISO 800

 

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.

Sunday
Jun172012

Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 17

The temperature was much warmer today than in the past few weeks, and it was nice to have cool-ish morning to start off with (as opposed to near freezing temps). Oh, and we had clouds today! We all decided that we would put some time in to see if we could locate cheetah, as there had been a lone male cheetah spotted in the southern part of the property yesterday morning. We stopped and listened to any alarm calls from birds or mammals every few minutes, and within an hour we heard an impala’s snorts just to the east of our position. We didn’t know the specific area, so we drove all roads near where we heard the sound so we could either find the alarm caller or at least locate tracks.

 

Cheetah On A Termite Mound

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1250 @ f/8, ISO 800

 

There are many different ways of locating predators, and one of the methods is to listen to vocalization from specific animals. Good examples are impala, kudu, francolin, guinea fowl, vervet monkeys and baboons. My least favorite is from francolin, because often they are false positive alarms and can lead to dead ends.

We eventually found a cheetah on the top of a termite mound, just as the morning sunlight was breaking through the dense clouds. We photographed him on many different mounds and downed trees over the next hour and came away with some great shots. Cheetah? Check. Good light? Check. Good visibility? Check.

On the way back to camp we stopped for a journey of giraffe, and just sat there and enjoyed a long stop to watch them feed on the trees. Giraffe and elephant are my two most favorite mammals to watch and to photograph, so I was glad to spend some good time with a relaxed congregation of them this morning.

 

Gear

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/1400 @ f/4, ISO 1600

 

Friends (Lawrence and Renneck, our amazing trackers)

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/640 @ f/4, ISO 320

 

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.

Sunday
Jun172012

Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 16

Today was the first day where I started to feel some fatigue setting in. Game drives aren’t that tiring in and of themselves, but always being ‘on’ with my job as a photographic safari leader does create a need for some down time. I love what I do, and I absolutely love helping people get the best images possible, so I will try to figure out a way to get some down time in the next day or I will burn out.

Ok, on to today’s sightings!

The morning’s drive was extremely quiet, but one thing we noticed immediately upon leaving our camp was that we had clouds. The clouds meant the morning wasn’t very cool, and we welcomed dramatic light to our day. I love clouds, because wildlife photography can be much easier with the softer light, as we can shoot all day long without having to worry about harsh shadows. Change the white balance a bit and poof! Good colors and contrast can be tweaked to taste and there you have it.

We did see an adult female leopard with what we thought was the Kashane male leopard, but we didn’t get a long enough look of them before they took off into the bush. We did drive offroad for a while to see what was going on, but we had to disengage after a while due to the tall grass and thick thorn trees.

The rest of the morning was filled tracking activities, and nothing to report.

 

 

On our afternoon drive we followed up on the leopard sighting from this morning, and low and behold we eventually found them only a few meters from where we saw them last. It definitely was Kashane and an unknown female. What a guy, as he was mating with another female only 4 days ago. Insert your Barry White CD with some shakka shakka boom boom. Kashane is the man of the hour. The grass was super tall, so no easy photographs could be had this time around. I have actually lost count of the number of leopard matings we have had since we arrived 2 weeks ago.

We did have a crash of rhinos with some interesting sparring behavior, and we made sure we spent an adequate amount of time trying to make some good photographs. I have never had so many quality rhino sightings before, and I am glad to have something new to work on. The only photos I was able to be remotely happy with are the ones included in this post, and I do wish the other attempts would have worked out for me. This safari trip has been a challenge for me, because I don’t have much time to process any images. I want to post at least 2 to 4 images each day to illustrate what we are seeing and doing. This means my standards have to be reduced, and that isn’t something I am normally comfortable with. I just hope these blog posts help show what we are seeing and just how rich the wildlife experiences are.

 

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/500 @ f/6.3, ISO 640

 

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/640 @ f/6.3, ISO 640

 

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.

Sunday
Jun172012

Sabi Sand Safari Report - Day 15

Dear diary:

Today we were chased by a bull elephant. It was really cool. It is amazing how fast a Land Rover can go with short notice. And it’s also amazing how fast adult male elephants can run when they are in musth.

Glad to be safe-

Andy

We did have a great morning with a bull elephant who turned out to be our most memorable sighting of the day. Whenever we got anywhere near him he would come out of the trees to ‘greet’ the vehicle, but we would back way off and try it a few minutes later. We were always had a safe escape plan, and also planned for his own escape route, but it was fun to approach him slowly from a distance just to watch his behavior. We never endangered ourselves nor did we intentionally agitate him and it was good fun to see how he would close the distance between us once he noticed we were somewhat near him.

We had a pride of lions just outside of camp, and when I mean outside of camp I mean 100 feet away from one of our rooms. They weren’t very interesting to watch, as they were just lying around passing the time until their next meal walked by.

We found a small journey of giraffe around one of the watering holes, and photographed them drinking water. It’s tough to get these types of shots, because one needs to be either right in front of them or to the side of them. All other angles just don’t work. You also need to have a high shutter speed to get the water dripping from their mouth as they pull their head away from the water, and I think 1/1600 is a good minimum speed to consider. I love shooting giraffes in this way, because you know they are relaxed enough to put their long necks down for a long drink of water. It’s difficult to shoot them, though, as the tendency is to use too much focal length and next thing you know it you cannot get their whole body and neck in your frame when they quickly lift their neck and head up from the water. The key is to back off with your lens selection, pre-focus on where the head is before they drink, wait for them to lift their heads and then fire away when they do finally come up. The resulting frames are interesting, due to the long stream of water that comes from their mouth. The best scenario is when that water stream is side or back lit, because the sun coming through the water will light it up like a Christmas tree. The light was to our backs, so this didn’t work out.

The highlight of the afternoon and early evening was the Kashane male leopard, as he patrolled the area just outside of the other side of camp. He vocalized his presence, which is a thunderous growl that can be heard far away. We photographed him coming towards our vehicle numerous times, as he would pass the vehicle and we would drive around in front of him for it to happen all over again. What a beautiful male leopard he was.

 

Yawning Lioness

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/3200 @ f/4, ISO 500

 

Two Giraffes

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/2500 @ f/6.3, ISO 1000

 

Kashane Male Leopard

Nikon D800, 300mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/200 @ f/4, ISO 1600

 

Kashane Male Leopard at Dusk

Nikon D4, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, 1/6 @ f/4.5, ISO 100

 

Camera bags on this safari are sponsored by Gura Gear, which I started in 2008. Check us out. We make the best camera bags on the planet.

Some of the gear on this safari has been provided by Borrowlenses.com. I rely on borrowlenses.com for both my own needs as well as my safari travelers’ needs. When we need big lenses, cameras or anything else photographic, we turn to borrowlenses.com to help out. They are the best resource in the industry for traveling photographers.