Rick's List: Wildlife Park Photo Gear & Photo Tips

© Rick Sammon
I'm gearing up for my April Fossil Rim Wildlife Center photo workshop. I've been to Fossil Rim five times and to Kenya twice. The folks at Fossil Rim do a good job of simulating the African experience.

Here's a list of the gear I am bringing. I recommend the same gear for all wildlife park shoots.


Canon 5D Mark II or Canon 7D. The cropped-sensor 7D will make your lenses act like longer lenses.


Canon 100-400mm IS - my main wildlife lens.

Canon 70-200mm f/4 - at Fossil Rim, the animals come very close.

Canon 24-105mm IS lens - for wide-angle shots of the gropus of wildebeest and zebra.


Canon 580EX II - for daylight fill-in flash shots, which I will teach on the workshop.

Computer Stuff

MacBook Pro loaded with Lightroom or Photoshop and my favorite plug-ins.

Photo tips

• Shoot at a wide aperture to blur the background (especially when signs and fences are behind the animals.
• Put your lens right up against the fence and position it at an opening in the fence. Shooting at a wide aperture will blur the lens and make it disappear. Tip illustrated in opening photo.
• Try to shoot at the animals eye level.
• Learn about the animals before you go to the park.
• Take close-ups and wide-angle shots. Tell the whole story.
• Use a flash for fill light, especially when the subject is in the shade.
• Try to get some action shots . . . even the movement of a paw.
• Focus on the eyes.
• Try to get a behind-the-scenes tour. You'll get some cool shots.
• Play with shutter speeds. Use fast shutter speeds to freeze action, slow shutter speed to blur action.
• When shooting through glass, put your lens up against the glass and cup your hand around the lens to eliminate reflections.
• When shooting with a flash through glass, shoot at a 45-degree angle to eliminate the reflection from the flash.
• Get to the park early, before it gets crowded.

Explore the light,