Bull Riding and Rodeo Photography

I’ve realized it has been over 15 years since I’ve worked on any form of motion/action photography.

With either night skies & light painting or my primary focus of historic artifacts and locations,
most of my subject matter has been very still. Depth of Field and composition had become my central focus and half my work involved tripod use for longer exposures.
This year I’ve been feeling the need to bring my photography back to me, inspire my feelings of creativity and learning.
I’ve gone back to many of the older techniques I learned in my film days, selective focus, soft focus, black & white (which has always been my preferred taste),
pinholes and zone-plates; I’ve even been trying to refine my use of strobes.
It has been difficult to find motion inspirational. I enjoy wind and water working a landscape but receive much more pleasure from simply watching.
The same applies to wildlife. And though I do enjoy partaking in certain sports, I find spectating is usually quite boring.
Reflecting back on my childhood, the two sports I always enjoyed watching were baseball and rodeo.
Besides requiring incredible athletic ability and endurance, I find rodeo fascinating because of the teamwork.
Especially when your partner, as well as the opponent, doesn’t reason with the human mentality.
Being able to communicate with your horse to make the tight turn of a barrel or cut a steer for roping takes talent.
Riding the bulls is one of the finest shows of endurance, agility and reading your opponent.

So off to the Desert Empire Fair for the bull riding and rodeo photography.BullRiding - RodeoPhotography - rodeo - CountyFair - DesertEmpire - Bull - KernCounty - Cowboy - Ridgecrest - California - Sigma 70-210mm - Pentax

For such a small fair, they actually had a professional rodeo photographer and I had the pleasure of meeting him earlier in the day while scouting the arena layout.
Dale Miller of chute4u.com. I definitely recommend visiting his site and taking a good look at his work, great stuff that catches the moment and lets one feel as if they were there.
Among some of the items we talked about, there seemed to be two things that stayed with me, as I feel strong about both.
First what constitutes the difference between photography and digital art but more importantly, the second item was the fading of the professional photographer.
I find it very sad how many organizations, publications and venues are willing to accept lower quality images because, due to the ease of the digital age, the number of available images from non professionals at little or no cost.
No matter what our profession, none of us likes to have our lively hood cut because an amateur is willing to do it for less.
Amateurs often have professional quality images and there is no wrong in trying to profit from such. The problem is undercutting the price of those in the profession.
Dale mentioned that he wouldn’t photograph a wedding when asked and I totally understand. There is a special talent to capturing a wedding, creating images that will become memories.
These photographers refine this talent as sport photographers develop theirs.
We need to promote the respect of these talents.
Don’t give away your images for free or a low cost, especially if there is a photographer hired for the event.
And if one wishes to move into a photographic specialty, work and fairly compete with those in that field to keep prices relevant for providing a living by profession.TeamRoping - RodeoPhotography - Rodeo - CountyFair - DesertEmpire - Horse - Calf - KernCounty - Cowboy - Ridgecrest - California - Sigma 70-210mm - Pentax

With the low light and distance of the stands, I found it challenging to predict where the action might be and shoot hand held.
Even with an f2.8 aperture and 640 shutter, I was forced to use an ISO of 25k creating massive amounts of noise.
I’m happy with the images I captured this night, especially for being my first rodeo
but if you take a look at Dales site you’ll see why his experience and talent deserve to bring him the work and respect of being a rodeo photographer.

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