Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Why a Wonder: More than 1,000 animals from 50 species call Fossil Rim home. This unique conservation center offers an Africa-like photo safari experience. I have been to Africa several times, and I still enjoy photographing at Fossil Rim.
Where: Glen Rose, Texas, about 1.5 hours south of Dallas/Fort Worth.
When: Spring and Fall, when there are fewer tourists than in Summer driving on the 7.2 mile paved roads that wind through the beautiful landscape. Keep in mind that Fossil Rim is very busy during local school holidays.
Photography: Giraffes, zebras, white rhinos, wildebeest, antelopes and cheetahs are just some of the African animals you’ll be able to photograph during your Fossil Rim visit.
My advice is to take a guided tour (in a safari vehicle) first, and then do a self-drive tour through the grounds. The animals often come close to the vehicles - looking for snacks. So, be ready with your wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses.
When I go back, which I hope will be soon, I’ll take my Canon RF24-105mm and Canon RF100-500mm lenses.
For the best light of the day and to see the most animal activity, visit Fossil Rim in the early morning and late afternoon hours. Staying on site in the authentic safari lodge or in one of the humble cabins will give you fast and easy access to the animals. Another option is to stay in a hotel in Glen Rose, which is about 20 minutes away.
The key to getting Africa-like photographs is to watch the background/foreground, and try to compose a photograph without any fences or wires in those areas – or to envision how you can clone out distracting elements in Photoshop or Lightroom. Adding a sepia tone effect to a photograph can also create a vintage safari-like image.
The animals can move fast at Fossil Rim. Keep an eye, literally, on the entire scene by photographing with both eyes open.
Above is my son Marco demonstrating the open-eye technique.
For me, and most of my friends who have experienced Fossil Rim, the highlight is a private session with the cheetahs, which you can arrange through the management. I had the pleasure of working with Kelly Snodgrass, the COO of Fossil Rim, who is an cheetah expert.
The cheetahs are behind a chain-link fence. However, as you can see in my photographs, you can make the fence “disappear” by using a telephoto lens/telephoto setting on a zoom lens, selecting a wide-aperture, and photographing very close to the fence.
Try to tell the story of your photo safari. In addition to taking "Out of Africa" shots, take close-up photographs of the animals, as well as photographs your fellow photo safari goers.
Learn More: You can book tickets and learn more about Fossil Rim on their web site.
© Rick Sammon
This post sponsored by Delkin Devices.