Tag Archives: Saddle Bronc

Best of 2015: Rodeo

It’s that time of year when I like to look back on the year that just closed and try to distill a set of “best of”.  As I had the chance to shoot a bit of rodeo this year – let’s start with a few of those.

So – in no particular order – here you go.

best of-4









best of-10



best of-7

best of-9

best of-8

New Exposure Story: 8 Seconds

8 seconds

Hi all – just wanted to let you know that I’ve just posted another photo story over on Exposure.co – this one on rodeo – specifically the rough stock events.  So check it out and let me know what you think.  Thanks!

2014 Philomath Frolic & Rodeo: Rough Stock

Last week I shared a few from the Roping & Racing events.  This week – rough stock.

As it turns out, it was also an odd weekend for the bull riders as no one made it the full 8 seconds.  Good riders – just better bulls.

2014 PFR - Sunday - 1000px-14

Bull Riding

2014 PFR - Sunday - 1000px-15

Bull Riding

2014 PFR - Sunday - 1000px-20

That’s Bullfighter Cody Harsch.

2014 PFR - Sunday - 1000px-23

More Bull Riding

2014 PFR - Friday Night - 1000px-1

Bareback Bronc

2014 PFR - Sunday - 1000px-13

Saddle Bronc

2014 PFR - Friday Night - 1000px-4

Saddle Bronc

Rodeo Week: Rough Stock

And to wrap up Rodeo Week – here are a few rough stock photos from the 2012 Philomath Frolic and Rodeo.

The concept?  Just hold on for 8 seconds with one hand.

In no particular order:

  • Bareback bronc.
  • Bull riding.
  • Readying for a bull ride.
  • Saddle bronc.
  • Not all rides go to plan.
  • Saddle bronc.
  • Bareback bronc.
  • Time to move to another shooting location.  🙂

PFR 2012 - Sunday-2

PFR 2012 - Sunday-23

PFR 2012 - Friday-11

PFR 2012 - Friday-6 PFR 2012 - Sunday-5

PFR 2012 - Friday-7PFR 2012 - Friday-4PFR 2012 - Sunday-18

Rodeo Week: A Bit of Backstage

There’s a lot going on backstage at a rodeo.  Here’s a bit from behind the chutes.

PFR 2012 - Friday-8 PFR 2012 - Sunday-1PFR 2012 - Friday-10

PFR 2012 - Sunday-12

Saturday Afternoon at the Rodeo

Headed on out to the Benton County (Fair &) Rodeo on Saturday to shoot a few photos.

Have I mentioned before that I think Team Roping is probably the most difficult rodeo event to shoot?  If so – let me say it again…

And – the last shot?  Well – that’s from the last ride of the weekend – an 84 point performance by Charlie Skidgel on Disco Dog – to take it all home.  One heck of a performance.

So – in no particular order – here you go.

“Back Stage”

Benton County Rodeo - 2011 - for the blog-1Just never know exactly what you’re going to get when you aim a lens at steer wrestlers.  Really a lot of fun to photograph.

Benton County Rodeo - 2011 - for the blog-6

Saddle broncBenton County Rodeo - 2011 - for the blog-4 Team Roping

Benton County Rodeo - 2011 - for the blog-9

A little barrel racing (and a little fun with a longer exposure). Benton County Rodeo - 2011 - for the blog-10 Bull Riding.

Benton County Rodeo - 2011 - for the blog-13 Benton County Rodeo - 2011 - for the blog-16

And – well – since you stuck around this long – I thought maybe I’d pass along something I tried on Saturday that I think worked pretty well.

As it turns out – it’s not always easy to keep track of what order riders actually ride (for example – Chase was third on the list for bull riders – but he rode last).  Often – a quick snapshot of the scoreboard before or after the ride will help – but – at small rodeos like this one – there’s no scoreboard.  On Saturday – I happen to put a small Zoom H2 on a Gorillapod and wrapped it onto a fence and just let it run for the length of the show – just for fun.  It not only delivered a great soundtrack – but I used it to confirm the rider / bull combo for the 84 point ride.

10 Rodeo Images from 2010

This last month has simply been a traffic jam at the intersection of “full time dude-in-a-cube” and “holidays” and “part time photography” – and the blog has been a bit neglected.  Sorry ‘bout that.

And it’s not that I haven’t been thinking about photography (and you folks).  Actually – quite the opposite.  It’s just that I haven’t been typing all that much on the blog.  But you should see my notebook!  (lots of scribbles) There are also a few more books (and ebooks) and pieces of gear to review – but I guess that will all need to wait until next year – when I’ll hopefully get this corner of the blog-o-sphere tidied up a bit.

And that brings me to the post at hand – long time readers of Camera 47 know that I’m a fan of year-end Top 10 lists – especially when it comes to the challenge of distilling down a year’s worth of photos to a critical few.  Well – I’m going to stick to my formula of giving you two lists – one of rodeo images – and one for everything else.  So – in no particular – here are 10 rodeo images from 2010 that I thought stood out a bit more than the others.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know what you think.   Benton County Rodeo - a few for blog - low res-1for blog - sRGB-3PFR - Thursday - quickly low res-1bw-1Benton County Rodeo - a few for blog - low res-4

PFR - Thursday - quickly low res-2PFR - Sunday - low res-6

JJ horse - sRGB-1

bareback - sRGB-1

for blog - sRGB-1

Benton County Rodeo 2010

Benton County Rodeo - a few for blog - low res-1Had a chance to shoot a little rodeo on Saturday afternoon.  And while I was out there – I worked on a some things – such as a few new angles (for me) – and some panning.

Benton County Rodeo - a few for blog - low res-5For example – I typically don’t sit near the start of the roping events (nor to the side – for that matter) – and during tie down and breakaway you’ll most likely find me at the far end of the arena – shooting straight on – but Saturday afternoon – that’s exactly where I was sitting.  And I was close enough to the action that the 70-200mm was too long.  So – I worked with the 17-55mm – and some panning techniques.

As for the panning – I should have re-read my notes / exif data from the Philomath rodeo.  For some reason – caught up in the moment – I set the shutter speed at 1/20 – instead of something better suited to horses – say near 1/40 or 1/50.  As it turns out – while panning cars or bikes or even people – the motion of travel is relatively smooth.  With horses – not only are they moving straight ahead – but they also jostle up and down – adding to the challenge.  I’m still middlin’ on the image below – but I include it here to show my homework.

Benton County Rodeo - a few for blog - low res-2

And speaking of the 17-55mm – it’s been a great lens (picked it up shortly before Willamette Celebration) – and hopefully I’ll cobble together a review in the not too distant future.  That said – it’s not a perfect lens (is there a “perfect” lens?) –but, so far, I’ve really enjoyed shooting it.  It’s sharp, focuses reasonably fast, and the images look great.  On the 50D – I really appreciate the 17mm.

Benton County Rodeo - a few for blog - low res-4

Saturday Night Rodeo

PFR - Saturday - quick low res-1

A big “thank you” isn’t big enough to the folks at the Canon Factory Service Center in Irvine for getting the 50D back in working order in record time (new shutter) so that I could have it in hand for the second half of this four-day event.

Those folks are great to work with.

And speaking of “this event” – it’s Saturday night rodeo – and the place was packed.  I didn’t see an empty seat in the arena tonight.

As it’s late – I’ll just shoot a quick one your way – a little  saddle bronc.  It was either this or the barrelman (JJ Harrison) in a sumo / ballerina outfit.  Seriously – I can’t make this stuff up.

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.