Tag Archives: horses

Bareback Riding (aka Bareback Bronc)

bareback for blog-5 8 seconds.  On the back of a horse with no saddle – the rider holds on with only one hand and spurs.

Simple, right?

Well – I can’t speak as a rider – but from  a photographer’s perspective – I think about three primary shots in bareback (as well as for Saddle Bronc and Bull Riding): (1) Pre-ride (2) Ride (3) Post ride.bareback for blog-2

Pre-ride: Pretty straight forward.  Horses, riders, gear, gates.

Ride: I look for classic, rugged, gut-wrenching, crowd-pleasing frames.

Post-ride: There’s a few options here: (1) the crash – where the rider is in the process of exiting his comfortable seat atop the horse (2) the walk – where the rider is either soaking in the glory of an 80-point ride – or is still trying to calm the ringing bells in his head or (3) the runaway horse – the scene where the horse is running around the arena (or edge of the arena).  Sometimes – the rider is still attached.

bareback for blog-6Bottom line: Bareback is a great photo op.

Gear: Long, fast-focusing lenses will really help here.  Often, small rodeo arenas put the audience close to the action.  If you’re only packing a 100mm – no worries – a little cropping will often help with that nice tight shot.

bareback for blog-1The arena in Philomath has lighting – but it’s not that bright.  In fact – from a photographer’s view – it’s startling how little light there is in there.  This year I picked up the Canon 85mm f/1.8 for when the sun dips – and the fast aperture really helped.  The rest of the time – I’m typically shooting the 70-200mm f/4L.

And frames / second can increase your chances to capture the decisive moment.  The Canon 50D shoots 6.3 fps.  That puts me at something like +50 images for an 8 second ride – and that’s OK.  I’ll typically only use 1 photo from the ride – but hopefully – it’ll be a compelling pose.  As for filtering through the images – Lightroom 2 is the tool I use.  bareback for blog-3

Keep shooting: As you shoot and make mistakes – you’ll get better.  Funny thing – I’ve been shooting this rodeo for 3 years – and this year I was still able to make a lot more mistakes.  And we’re not talking simply out-of-focus frames – we’re talking good ol’ fashion “Rats! – I should have known that”.


You can check out images from the 2009 Philomath Frolic and Rodeo here – and three years of PFR portfolio here.

Rodeo Season

The 2009 Philomath Frolic & Rodeo will be running through Sunday in Philomath, OR.

PFR Rodeo - barrel for blog-1