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Safari on a budget

May 20 - 22, 2018

About the Workshop

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 entity, specializing in captive breeding programs for indigenous and exotic endangered and threatened species. Fossil Rim is the first facility of its kind to have been accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center participates in a worldwide network of wildlife conservation organizations working to restore the delicate balance between people, animals and the environment. Fossil Rim represents more than 1,100 animals, including 50-plus species of native and non-native animals living peacefully at the 1,800-acre park. As tour attendees we will be staying on the grounds with early morning access, before the public, tours in the park. We will venture out onto the grounds, in specially built safari vehicles, twice a day (mornings and evenings) for three hour outings with trained guides to get you into the best position for our photography. With the advantage of the best light and full access to the wildlife center we are certain to have some great opportunities.

During the heat of the day we retire to the comfort of the, on grounds, pavilion and lodge reserved exclusively for us. Classes will be held each day to teach you to be a better photographer. Classes may vary depending on experience of the attendees, but the workshop will include instruction on post-production and shooting skills. Attendees will be sent a questionnaire before hand to access specific needs and concerns of the photographers. This is the opportunity to get to see what a real safari experience is like. Test out you equipment, learn some skills, learn to make your images better with hands on experience, before you spend that $20,000 for the African Safari of your dreams. Your tour guide — Doug Hansgate — will work hard to get you to the best locations depending on weather and bird activity. When I shoot these areas, I like to explore and encourage you to spread out some, look for a vision of an image, find still water, and explore the best angle of light and composition. I will stay within our group to give you any assistance you might want, my focus is on you getting the shots not me. Plus, since the tour is limited to 6 participants, you can be assured of individual attention. For the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center click here.


  • Skill level

    Photography skill levels will range from expert to far less experience levels. If you are a pro or less experienced, no worries … there is plenty of freedom to operate at your creative best. And if you are still eager to learn to improve your skills, consider arranging for private lessons from Doug Hansgate the day before or after tour. Doug is an extraordinary teacher and has a gift for simplifying things that leads to fast improvement. Such lessons should be prearranged with Doug so they do not conflict with our other duties but those that take advantage of such lessons will find it time well spent.

  • Equipment

    On this trip, you will use a variety of length lenses plan on at a least a 200mm and Tele-Extender and or a zoom in the 70-300mm or 100-400mm range or so. Many of my images taken from our safari vehicles are shot with a zoom, however some animals will want to get in close and personal so a secondary camera with wide angle or at least lens is great. Plenty of times I will use an extender if our vision for an image warrants. In fact I usually have something similar to a 16-35mm, a 24-70mm, 100-400mm and an extender in my bag. I don't always use all of that but when I need to, I am well equipped. Add a tripod/mono pod and maybe a remote release and you have what you will need.

    Most of the time you will shoot hand holding, sitting inside the vehicle, however a mono pod will really help. Other times you might want a longer shutter speed and will need your tripod.

  • What to wear

    Can you say layers? Weather changes frequently. At the time of this photo tour, spring/summer is upon us, however the mornings can still be cool. It would be rare that more than a fleece would be needed at that time of year. Plan for it. Also, bring light rain gear. We enjoy the photographic opportunities that rain offers, unless high winds or lightning dictate otherwise.

  • Hiking and fitness level

    Since our trips into the sanctuary are done by specially built vehicles, we can move around most of the day to find just the right spots. But we are never in a hurry. When asked about level of fitness, easy to moderate would be likely the best answer.

  • Daily schedule

    The length of our daily outings is flexible. I want to maximize the best light, atmosphere, colors and subject matter. Most days will include a early morning session, breakfast, then out of the remainder of the morning. Class during the heat of the day and then a late afternoon session to capture the golden hour, sunset and more. Our morning sessions start at sunrise. Rain may fall which can greatly enrich the colors. We adapt to what Mother Nature throws our way with safety first always at the top of our agenda.

  • Accommodations
    • At your discretion
    • The Lodge and Safari Cabins are your choices.
    • The Lodge was the original “ranch house” for the property and now features five unique guest rooms, each with a different animal theme. It features a full-size kitchen and dining area, a beautiful cathedral-style living room and a massive stone fireplace. A wall of glass wraps around the front of the building, opening onto a wooden and cobblestone deck that overlooks a popular wildlife grazing area.
    • On the first floor of The Lodge, there is a full-size pool table, as well as games and books to enjoy. In fact, The Lodge has an extensive collection of books, spanning topics like conservation education, animals, novels and history.

    • Our Foothills Safari Camp is located a half-mile further inside Fossil Rim from The Lodge. The camp entails a two-acre fenced enclosure overlooking one of Fossil Rim’s most popular wildlife watering holes where an ever-changing variety of animals – even more diverse than at The Lodge – can be observed.
    • Each of the seven cabins is custom-designed and fitted with two twin beds, fresh linens, electrical power outlets, bathrooms with showers, ceiling fans and central heat and air. All cabins have an extra twin bed in case it is needed, plus a front porch with chairs facing the watering hole. Cabins each have adjacent picnic tables. Please bring a flashlight in case you need to leave your cabin after dark.

      More information about accomodations. »
  • Cost

    The tour includes photo instruction, post-processing instruction, breakfast each day, daily field outings in "safari vehicles' with guide and is priced at: $859 per person for Lodge accommodations $769 for Cabin accommodations $529 for double occupancy (second person in room or cabin)

    Participation only reserved on receipt of a non-refundable deposit of $300 USD. Deposit methods accepted: Pay-pal, Credit card via a phone call to Doug Hansgate, reservation coordinator, at 716-860-7194, or a check made out to Doug Hansgate and sent to 154 Christiana Street, North Tonawanda, NY 14120.

    Please register by paying using pay-pal or contact Doug for additional registration information.

  • What’s included ... and what’s not


    • Accommodations
    • Breakfast
    • Photographic Instruction and guidance
    • Wildlife Center fees
    • Wildlife guide fees
    • Wildlife Center transportation in specially designed tour vehicles
    • photographic assistance, image reviews and coaching in the field
    • daily post-production classes and review of your images
    • daily discussion group about improving your images

    Not included:

    • airfares
    • car rental, transportation to and from the airport, and operating costs
    • snacks and any alcoholic drinks
    • personal items
    • trip insurance
    • tips and gratuities
    • and anything else not specified as included


Only $529- $929 per person. Class is limited to 14 students.

Register Now


Sunday, May 20
4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. arrival


Monday, May 21
6:00 A.M. - 8:00 P.m.

We depart the Lodge to head out to our first location. The plan is to be on location shortly after sunrise.

Tuesday, May 22
6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

We depart the Lodge to head out to our first location. The plan is to be on location shortly after sunrise.

Wednesday, May 23
6:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.m.