Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yeehaw - This was my first Rodeo!!!

Last weekend a friend of ours asked if we wanted to go with her to a rodeo, which was happening in Salinas, CA (about an hour from our home). We had the day open and we all thought it would be fun to experience a rodeo for the first time. And, of course, I looked forward to bringing the camera and seeing what I could capture. (And no - I did not attempt to fly the drone over the rodeo!)

This was a family outing, and I didn't want the emphasis to be on the photography, so I decided to bring only one camera and one lens. I decided that, since I did not know how close we would be to the action and what we would see, I would bring the Canon 28-300mm lens since it gave me a wide range to shoot with. And knowing that there was going to be a lot of fast action, I did splurge and bring the Canon 1DX.

We got to the rodeo around 2pm and found our seats, which were located about 40 rows up and pretty close to the center of the ring. At this point, I was wishing that I had brought the Canon 100-400 lens to let me zoom in a little closer to the action.

(Canon 1DX, 28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 400, 1/1250 sec, f/5.6) 
I zoomed the lens all the way to 300mm and started shooting some of the bucking broncos. And with a little bit of cropping, everything worked out pretty well. I made sure to keep my shutter speed high to freeze the action.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 400, 1/2000 sec, f/5.6) 

The fast shutter speed did freeze the action. When I saw this image and some of the others, I was wondering how these guys take this kind of abuse. I'll bet this guys back hurt more than mine after a full day of shooting!

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 210mm, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, f/16) 
After the riders were done, these ladies came out and performed some really amazing tricks on the horses. At this point, I slowed the shutter speed to 1/80 sec to get some motion in the horse's legs. I panned at the same speed as the horse to freeze the the ladies and the horse. (And for those of you wondering how I got them tack sharp at such a slow shutter speed, I took a lot of photos and grabbed the best - and I have practiced this too.)

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 500, 1/3200 sec, f/5.6) 
Having never been to a rodeo before, I was surprised when they announced some stunt motorcyclists. But, since I have always wanted to shoot photos of these guys, I was happy to see them there. I started taking photos of these guys from our seats, but as you can tell, the background was pretty distracting. I was trying my best to make this a family day, but I just couldn't help myself and quickly excused myself and ran down to the lowest seating to get a better angle.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 135mm, ISO 500, 1/5000 sec, f/5.6) 
Getting down low, and having some nice clouds in the background, made the shot so much better!

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 150mm, ISO 800, 1/8000 sec, f/5.6) 
I could have cropped out the lights and tree tops from the bottom of this photo, but I like the way that it shows the height of the jump.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 50mm, ISO 500, 1/5000 sec, f/5.6) 
I grabbed this wide shot, during the finale, when they were all three jumping at the same time. As you can see, I only got two of the riders in this shot, and it was taken at 50mm. If I had been shooting with the 100-400mm lens, I would not have been able to shoot this wide shot.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 500, 1/3200 sec, f/5.6) 
Then it was back to the traditional rodeo events, and I was back in my seat (for a little while anyways).

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 100, 1/40 sec, f/20) 
I photographed the first couple sets of these steer wrestlers at a really fast shutter speed. The photos were fine but seemed to lack the drama that I was seeing in front of me. So, I decided to slow the shutter down once again and pan with the riders. This was a little tricky, because I had three subjects in the frame and, at times, they would be going at different speeds. This was one of my favorite photos from the day.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 500, 1/1000 sec, f/5.6) 
My daughter asked if we could get up and walk around. To me, this meant that we could go explore together, and to her this meant that she could go shopping for a new sweatshirt or hat. After she and I sucked down a corn dog, we found some open seats that were low and right by the action. I grabbed some more photos from this location.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 320, 1/1250 sec, f/5.6) 
This bull had no intentions of leaving the area, so some cowboys had to rope him and give him some direction.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec, f/5.6) 
I photographed a bunch of the bull riders, but since most of the action was right up against the gates, it was tough to isolate them from the background. I like this shot with the bull's face in the dirt, eyes wide open, while being surrounded by a whole lot of cowboys and cowboy hats.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 260mm, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, f/11) 
In between the bull riders, there were women performing in the barrel racing. It was a fun challenge to change all the camera settings (to slow the shutter) for these riders and then quickly change them once again for the bull riders.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec, f/5.6) 
The last event that we saw, before heading back home for the evening, was the freestyle bull fighting, where these guys did their best to tease the bulls while staying in one piece.

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 320, 1/1600 sec, f/5.6) 
Ouch!

(Canon 1DX28-300mm lens at 300mm, ISO 800, 1/1600 sec, f/5.6) 
See...if you ever have a bull charging you, now you know that all you have to do is jump over him!

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

it was cool that you had a daylight rodeo, all of mine have been early evening , but sometimes I get a few good ones.

Dave said...

Jeff, Some great first time rodeo shots! I find this is one sport where you keep both eyes open while shooting so you can anticipate what is happening.

Here are some of my rodeo shots: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjA31HdS

I really enjoy your B&H videos - great stuff!