I love small town rodeos. Fortunately we have the Parker Ranch Rodeo right here, and we have regularly made the effort to attend each summer. The rodeo is a celebration of the ranching history of Waimea, a heritage that is alive and well in the ranching families that still earn a living raising cattle and practicing the old skills.
In past years the public had been allowed right to the rail of the arena at the conclusion of the horse races. This had allowed me to get really nice images of the riders without the fence in the shot, shooting through the rails. The last couple years this has not happened… A problem, I attend this event as much for the photographic opportunity as anything else.
This year I wrangled Deb and myself a couple media passes to the rodeo. Access to the pens, the chutes, and the arena fence… Perfect! The media contact at Parker Ranch was careful to explain the safety issues, no leaning over the rails, nothing through the fence, I can live with the stated rules.
We had a great time. Set up right on the fence for much of the day we had a clear shot at the action. I used a 70-200mm telephoto lens much of the day attempting to catch instants in the action that told the story. A rearing horse, dirt and dust flying under hooves, a rope in the air. The elements are all there, catching them at the right instant is a real challenge for a photographer. With the camera in servo mode I would fire short bursts at what I hoped was the right time. Sometimes it worked. As the memory card filled with over 800 images I found that some actually looked good.
Photographically it was the various mugging events that produced the best images. Team mugging, with a rider and several teammates on the ground wrestling a steer can photograph very well. The junior/senior ribbon mugging event with the kids and adults working together was equally photogenic.
Do not ask me who won and who lost. I really did not care to follow the winners and losers that closely. So much of a good score was really based on luck, did the steer buck or twist at the wrong moment? I just appreciated watching the skill and pride that was on display in these events. A skillful flip of the rope at the right moment, a well trained horse that did just the right thing to support the rider. That is what I enjoy in a good rodeo.
Of course there is the chore of processing my way through 800 photos from the day, selecting a hundred or so to pass on to Parker Ranch. That chore is just about done, I have finished mine, I just need to work through a pile of photos Deb gave me to process and add to the package.