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Last Build Date: Tue, 04 Apr 2017 01:32:36 +0000

 



Electronics Travel Ban - The Skinny

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 20:12:28 +0000

 

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Need the skinny on the recent travel ban regarding electronic devices? Don’t let the latest news come between you and your next adventure.

Whats Up?

Ten designated airports in eight countries inacted restrictions on passengers carrying electronics… and yes, this includes camera equipment. These restrictions are, hopefully, temporary, but will continue until further notice. The UK has followed suit. So, the airport or flight you use to return, either via the UK or directly to the States, is the one to be concerned about. For safari travelers coming home from Africa, the most common airlines affected are Turkish Airlines and Emirates Airlines.

The following electronic devices are not allowed on board these flights, and would have to be checked. In a nutshell? Anything larger than your cell phone.

 

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Cameras
  • Travel printers
  • Games larger than your cell phone

 

In summary, U.S inbound flights directly from the following airports and countries are affected:

 

  • Kuwait City,Kuwait
  • Casablanca, Morocco
  • Doha, Qatar
  • Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Amman, Jordan
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Jidda and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

 

As mentioned above, the UK has imposed a similar ban on inbound  direct flights from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia. This would affect British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air, Royal Jordanian, and Emerites Airlines.  Many adventurers use the UK as a hub, so if you are travelling/ returning to the UK on any of the above mentioned airlines, restrictions apply. 

What Now?

If you have not already booked your homecoming ticket, choose the carrier wisely. For those who have already booked their flight on affected airlines, try to re-route. You’ll pay a penalty, but it will be worth it to sit with your camera gear.  KLM, Swiss Air, Brussels Air, Luftansa, or Delta via South Africa Air are some alternative suggestions.

However inconvenient the current electoronic restrictions may be, don’t let them take over your bucket list. So bring a good book… and see you on safari!

Happy Travels-

Andy Biggs and Team




Photographic Processing and Believability

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 14:15:23 +0000

We are living in the golden age of photography; digital photography has matured and the tools available are robust and functional. The intersection of these magical cameras and raw file processing software brings up the subject of believable photographs. Why should a photograph need to be believable? It doesn’t, but this is often how viewers look at photographs. If an image is believable then the viewer can get past that hurdle and on to opinions of interpretation, quality, aesthetics, and how they actually feel about the photograph. For example, I recently encountered an elephant (below) while on a boat in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The color in this version of the photograph is unbelievable; I set the Saturation slider beyond what I would normally do. To illustrate my point, I doubt that many people will take a look at the actual content of the photograph after seeing how inappropriately I processed the image because the colors aren’t believable.        The second version of the same photograph (below) was edited more consistently with my normal processing style and language, and the image is more believable. You can move on to discussing how you feel about the image, whether or not you like it, what you think about the main subject, and so forth. But herein lies a challenge and a bit of a paradox for me: color photographs are often believable, but this also has the ability to limit our creativity at the same time. Interpretation of a scene or subject can be done in many different ways, from which lens you use, how far away you are, how you dodge, burn, select an overall color palette, and to where you crop (if at all).   The main point in discussing this is to propose the idea that believability changes when you work in color versus black and white. To use a metaphor, consider a box. What exists inside the box is everything believable and outside is everything not believable. For me, the box in the color world is much smaller than a box for black and white. Black and white photographs can be worked in more aggressive and more interpretive ways before a viewer fully understands or appreciates the amount of work done on the image. By removing the color, the reference points are also removed and the photographer is free to push outwards to expand that box and have more creativity and fewer constraints. In the third example (below), the photograph has been processed in black and white and has much more work done to it in the areas of dodging, burning, and adjusting specific areas of contrast so that you can get past the believability factor and move on to more important things to consider, such as whether you like the image or not, or if it touches your soul.   Check out my new video series, Lightroom Simplified, for a more in-depth approach to creating believable images both quickly and efficiently. 13 videos, 3.5 hours of step-by-step instruction.      [...]



Lightroom Simplified, my video series

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:03:03 +0000

 

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If you struggle to understand the Develop module in Lightroom and want to learn a simple approach to the digital darkroom, giving you more time to be out there with your camera, you’re going to appreciate the video series I just created: Lightroom Simplified. 

Lightroom Simplified is a 3.5 hour video course in 13 episodes and covers my complete workflow in the Develop module of Lightroom. If you’ve traveled with me you know that what I love most is being out there, in the field, with my cameras, not fussing for hours over post-production. This approach is simple and efficient and covers my processes for both color and black & white images. It also includes a short bonus video that discusses organization and Lightroom Mobile. 

Lightroom Simplified can be both downloaded and streamed, and will give you the confidence to use the tools of Adobe Lightroom efficiently so you can get back to doing what you love: making photographs.

I’ve teamed up with Craft & Vision to get this into your hands. It will normally be $50 but it’s on sale for $40 for the first week.

Lightroom Simplified Video Tutorials

 




Photo of the Day - Peacock, Bandhavgarh, India

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 02:11:50 +0000

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Peacock

Bandhavgarh, India




Nik Collection is now free!

Fri, 25 Mar 2016 15:46:24 +0000

I have been a huge fan of the Nik Collection plugins for Photoshop (not the Lightroom ones) for many years, and now they are going to be FREE going forward. As Lightroom and Capture One functionality has increased I have been relying less and less on the Nik Collection tools, but they still have a use in my overall tool kit.

Click here to download the Nik Collection for free




On the Lookout for the Classic Gura Gear Camera Bags?

Wed, 02 Mar 2016 14:41:26 +0000

 

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I have had many emails asking me if Gura Gear still has the line of bags in stock that had the old branding on them, and the short answer is the best way to find them is to look over at one of the dealers, Outdoor Photo Gear. As you may know, the name Gura Gear was discontinued last year in order to focus time and effort on our Tamrac brand.

Here are some helpful links:

Gura Gear Bataflae 32L - $329 (was $429)

Gura Gear Bataflae 26L in stone color - $199 (was $379)

Gura Gear Bataflae 26L in black - $199 (was $379)

Gura Gear Bataflae 18L in tan - $149 (was $299)

Gura Gear Bataflae 18L in grey - $149 (was $299)

All of the Gura Gear products can be found by searching on Gura Gear on their web site. And, of course, you can find all of the new bags over on the Tamrac web site.




2015 Year in Review

Thu, 24 Dec 2015 12:58:25 +0000

Wow. Another year has passed. Many things changed and many things stayed the same. What stayed the same you ask? Too much travel away from home. I say this every single year, but as a nature photographer and guide there isn’t an easy way to balance income requirements for my family and the travel that’s required to earn it. The only way to travel less is to likely leave the industry that I love so much, but I am not yet ready to make such a move. Camera Equipment Just like 2014, 2015 was a year of Phase One medium format equipment, augmented by 35mm camera gear when needed. For example, some trips like my Ultimate Primates safari (where we trek for wild chimpanzees and mountain gorillas) a full frame Canon or Nikon camera and a 70-200mm f/2.8 is all that you need. Nothing else. It’s not that my Phase One gear isn’t appropriate, but rather it isn’t the absolute best tool for the job. Late in 2015 I purchased some Canon 35mm gear from a friend who was selling off his entire system. I picked up a 5Ds camera, 24-70mm f/4, 24mm TSE, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II and a 200-400mm f/4. All I need is a second Canon camera body to round out the system. I did take the Canon to Botswana with me last month, and I compared the files to the Phase One IQ250 (with Sony’s 50mp sensor) and at lower ISO values the files look amazing. I think the Phase One 50mp files are better, like way better at ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400 (perhaps by 1.5 or 2 stops), but at ISO 800 and lower the 5Ds is a killer camera. I may purchase a second one, instead of going with something like a 1Dx or its forthcoming replacement. Places I visited I have to go off of memory here, and for a 46-year old man that starts to get challenging. ;-). Let’s see. I guided 5 African safaris (4 listed on my web site and 1 was private) to Tanzania, Botswana, Uganda and Rwanda, a landscape trip to Scotland in the late winter, Moab in Utah for the best 1-2 combination of national parks in the American West (Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park), a wildlife and cultural trip to India and also a trip to the southern Oregon coast in the late summer for some relief from the Texas heat. Of all of the trips the India trip stood out for me. It was my first trip to India, and we had some amazing wildlife sightings with tigers being at the top of the list. I have now added India to my yearly destination list, and my 2016 trip has already been sold out for a number of months. 2017 is already in the works. My 2016 Schedule I am busier than I appear, based on my own travel schedule. Why? I act as a safari consultant / agent for safaris and trips that I don’t personally guide. I get phone calls and emails all of the time, asking for assistance with setting up custom safaris for small groups of people who may not have the budget for one of my published trips or maybe my dates don’t work well for them. I also set up trips for other photographers to guide, and these trips have the Andy Biggs Photo Safaris quality stamp all over them. It is the only way for me to satisfy the demand, stay married and see my kids! January in Tanzania (private group safari for 13) February in Carmel / Big Sur, California (private workshop for 3) April in India for a tiger safari (sold out) May in the Galápagos Islands on a private motor yacht (sold out) June in Africa for my Ultimate Great Apes safari (1 spot available) July in Oregon for my Oregon Coast and Redwoods worskhop (nearly sold out) August in Kenya for my Great Migration with the Dream Team safari (some spots available) October in Scotland for my Scotland Isles Trilogy (some spots available) November in Botswana for my annual Premier Botswana Photo Safari If you are considering going to to any of these places or are thinking of joining me in 2016 or beyond, please contact me and let’s have a dialogue [...]



Today is International Cheetah Day

Fri, 04 Dec 2015 17:23:45 +0000

Happy International Cheetah Day, everyone. Today is the day when we recongize the cheetah, one of the most elegant and beautiful big cats on our planet. This is a photograph from a recent safari in Botswana, where we spent some time with this mother and her two 5-week old cubs. Taken near Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge.

 

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A Year in the Life, a lecture given at B&H

Tue, 08 Sep 2015 20:13:28 +0000

B&H has now posted a video of a lecture I gave a few months back in NYC. The video is around an hour long, and I spoke about creativity, my own approach to photography as well as some field and post processing techniques.

 

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India Tiger Safari Trip Mini Report

Thu, 09 Jul 2015 15:55:27 +0000

I have been back from India for more than a month and I have had some time to reflect on the amazing trip. My 2016 trip has already been planned and is now being actively marketed, and now it’s time to do a quick write up with photographs to talk about what we saw, photographed and felt. In May 2015 I made my first trip to India. It was a trip that was long in the making, and the purpose of the trip was to combine some cultural sites with wildlife and nature. At the top of the cultural sites was of course the Taj Mahal, and on the nature list was the majestic tiger. These two goals of the trip helped us piece together an itinerary that looked like this: Delhi (1 night) Agra (1 night) Ranthambhore National Park (4 nights) Delhi (1 night) Bandavgarh National Park (4 nights) Delhi I don’t want to go through a blow-by-blow detail of each day, but describing the trip in broad terms is more of how I want this report to be talked about. First off, India is a HUGE country, with many different cultures, climates and cuisines. This trip was limited to the central part of India, and in future years I will be branching out to see even more. India is a place that will challenge you in many ways and excite all of your senses: your sense of smell, sight, touch and hearing. The colors are often bright and colorful, the large cities are loud and energetic, walking the streets can mean bumping around between people and the spices of the food overwhelming (in a good way). I loved it. I loved everything about it. We split our time between two different wildlife areas: Ranthambhore National Park and Bandhavgarh National park. We spent 4 days at each park, and because they aren’t close to each other we flew commercially back to Delhi and stayed for a night in between. On my 2016 trip we are connecting to parks that are closer together, in order to minimize fatigue. Our group had some great sightings of tigers in total, of which a few of them were off the carts in a good way. In between tiger sightings there were so many mammal and bird species to photograph to keep us busy. Those other species really made the trip special for me, as it helps me understand and area and how an ecosystem works. Seeing tigers in the wild really was a sight to behold, and they really are as majestic and regal as I had hoped they would be. Many of our sightings included younger tiger cubs that were quite playful, which made great sightings into excellent sightings. Photographing tigers is very different than that of other big cats, in that much of the process involves tracking and waiting. In some of the places work in Africa we track and track and track until we find our subject, however in India we track until we get a good understanding of where the tiger(s) may be and then find the nearest water hole and hunker down for a while. Eventually the forest will make some noise and we will a better understanding of what is going on. It may be the sound of a chital, a bird or some other noise. It’s a fascinating process and one that paid off for us. So here are some images that I captured along the way to help illustrate what the trip was all about, with short captions underneath each photograph. I am looking forward to going back in April 2016!! -Andy Luxury India Tiger Safari, April 2016   Tigress and Cub, Bandhavgarh National Park   Finishing Up Our Game Drive, Ranthambhore   Tigress, Bandavgarh National Park   Chital Deer (also known as spotted or axis deer), Bandhavgarh National Park   Beggar Girl’s Hands, Agra   The Tea Room at the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, with the Taj Mahal in the background   My private deck and view of the Taj Mahal from the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra   Tiger, Ranthambhore National Park   Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhavgarh N[...]



Photography Roundtable Podcast

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 13:49:56 +0000

 

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Photography Roundtable podcast recently interviewed me about my photography business, safaris and other things about photography. It was an easy 30 minute discussion, and it was one of the better ones I have been a part of.

Going from 3 Auto Focus Points to Leading Safaris - Andy Biggs Episode 102




Back Home From Tanzania

Sun, 01 Mar 2015 19:36:55 +0000

The 2015 year has been off to a busy start, as I guided a private group to Botswana’s Okavango Delta in January, and recently I was in Tanzania’s Serengeti for my first open signup safari for the year. Both were amazing safari experiences, and this is my first image to share in the new year. Enjoy!

 

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Lion On A Rock

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

February 2015

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




Fine Art Photo Processing Sessions! New Dates Added

Sun, 01 Feb 2015 22:20:21 +0000

I have been doing 1-on-1 sessions for quite a few years now, and the best feedback I have received from past participants is a willingness to spend more time in my studio past 1 day, without breaking the bank. Well, here is my plan for the rest of 2015 with this feedback in mind.

The Dates

  • April 6-8
  • July 14-16
  • August 25-27

The Plan

I am going to host a series of 3-day Fine Art Photo Processing Sessions in my studio in Houston. Each session will be limited to only 2 or 3 people each. We will work diligently on the processing of creating the absolute best quality images and prints possible. We will work on color images. We will work on images for black and white. And we will create proof prints and large prints alike. And you will go home with a large number of prints.

 

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What Is Included

These 3-day sessions will include mid-day meals, all materials including ink and paper, and all you need to do is show up. I do prefer you show up with your own computer, as we will optimize your machine for the best color possible, which you will enjoy when you are back in your own environment. I have a *ton* of printing equipment from 13” printers all the way up to 44”. I am likely to have your exact printer model if you are using Epson, Canon or HP printers.

The Cost

These sessions are $1,850 each. I normally charge $950 per day, and since we will work in small groups I am able to reduce the price significantly.

Other Information

Here are just some of the topics we will cover:

  • Color management (how to definitively know your display and printer are properly calibrated and profiled)
  • Lightroom processing and workflow. This is my workflow, not a class on Lightroom functionality.
  • The use of Nik Software plugins
  • Soft proofing and how to correct your printing workflow if it needs correcting.
  • Black and white image processing and how to create dynamic B&W prints
  • What to look for in a good print and how to correct
  • Paper choices
  • Print sharpening
  • Upsizing and sharpening files for large format output
  • Editing images for a portfolio

 

How To Signup

Just email me at info@andybiggs.com and I can send you an invoice and additional details such as hotel recommendations. That’s it! I hope you will join me for some exciting times in my studio.

 

 




2014 Year In Review [Long Post]

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 18:42:12 +0000

I am now reflecting what a crazy year 2014 has been for me, both professionally and personally. I know I traveled too much away from home, and I say this every year. The single most difficult part of running my business is balancing the time needed at home with my needing to travel in order to earn and income. Since I plan my schedule 12+ months ahead, 2015 is going to be similar to 2014 with the quantity of travel, yet my 2016 year will likely have less travel for me. I absolutely love what I do for a living, and am looking for a better balance so I can stay healthy (mentally and physically). Camera Equipment 2014 was the year that I sold 100% of my Nikon 35mm equipment. Yes, all of it. As I wrote in an earlier blog post this year, I have moved to medium format gear from Phase One. The first half of the year I was shooting with their IQ280 80 megapixel digital back, and mid-year I switched to their new 50mp CMOS chip product. I am now able to shoot a much higher ISO’s (up to 3200), have better control of my depth of field and also have more frames per second. We aren’t talking 35mm speed, but good enough for me. International Travel I started off the year with a safari in Kenya, during its off season time of the year. These off season months are my preferred times to be in the Masai Mara, due to the few vehicles and abundant resident (non migratory) wildlife. The plains have very few vehicles out and about, and thus game drives are much more private. In April I spent the entire month in Namibia, guiding a pair of overland landscape workshops. Namibia never disappoints, and these overland trips were no exception. We had dramatic weather, great light and fun people to travel with. Since 2006 I have logged more than four months of time shooting in Namibia, and I still feel like I have only scratched the surface. I may decide to return in 2016, and if I do it will likely be another overland trip to some destinations that rarely visited. June found me in the Galápagos Islands, a place that I have visited many times before and always enjoy. I chartered a private motor yacht for the group and we visited most of the islands in the eastern side of the archipelago. In August I guided a pair of trips in East Africa, beginning with my Great Apes safari to Uganda and Rwanda. We trekked with wild chimpanzees in Uganda for three days and then trekked for mountain gorillas in Rwanda for another three days. It was my first trip with the new Phase One IQ250 digital back, and this meant I could use it in low light situations, hand-held. At the conclusion of the Great Apes trip I co-guided a safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara with good friend and über guide Grant Atkinson. After I finihsed up in the Masai Mara I then headed over to Amboseli National Park region to photograph herding elephant with Mount Kilimanjaro as a backdrop. To top off the year I was down in the southern ocean, photographing penguins and icebergs. The 20-day expedition visited the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. The highlight of the trip was South Georgia, which hosts the largest king penguin colonies on our planet. We had hoped for one really good landing, and in the end we had landings at 3 of the 4 largest colonies. High fives all around. 2015 is going to be a fantastic year, filled with new destinations! Here is a quick roundup of my year:   January - Private safari in the Okavango Delta of Botswana February - Tanzania wildebeest migration March - Scotland’s Isle of Skye April - Moab Behind The Scenes May - Tigers of India September - Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees, The Ultimate Great Apes Safari November - Botswana: The Premier Photographic Safari (two of them) &[...]



Beating Around The Bush, A Found Book From My Grandfather

Fri, 12 Dec 2014 15:44:22 +0000

My mother passed away almost five years ago, and after her funeral service we were going through her belongings in my parents’ home. In that process I found some really interesting things, and at the top of the list were my grandfather’s photographic equipment and books. My cousin had sent these things to my mother before she passed away, but for some reason I never received them. Since I didn’t have much time to do more than sort, pack up and throw out different items, I brought back these goodies and put them in my closet. They sat in my closet until recently, and one specific book caught my eye that required further investigation.

Beating Around The Bush by Clara Lee Brown was the book, and it decribed an extended safari that she had taken with her husband. I opened the book and quickly noticed that my grandfather had highlighted some passages throughout the book. These highlighted passages were obviously a way for him to help in planning a safari that he wanted to take, but never did. This is very poignant for me, as I guide photographic safaris to the same exact locations that he highlighted. My grandfather passed away in the early 1970’s and I didn’t have a chance to know him very well, and through this book I have a connection with him that I cherish. Call this book a baton, of sorts. A continuation of a passion for photography and for travel. I know that he was a Leica man, and I wish that I could have found his collection of rangefinder cameras that he once owned. Nobody in the family can figure out where they went, but at least I was able to possess his Weston light meter. How cool is that? To me it is extremely cool. This latent gift is my best Christmas gift for 2014, as it reminds me of how important family is, whether alive or deceased. And it reminds me to always seek out new experiences and destinations with a camera in my hand.

Pawpaw, I don’t remember you very much, but you have enriched my life more than you will ever know.

 


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