Another of my favourite events has come and gone. Along with the sunny warmth of summer, I always look forward to spending a fun, action-packed afternoon of photographing the events at The Prichard Rodeo, and this year didn’t disappoint. What a good time for any photographer that enjoys fast action sport photography.
I have written before about how great the Pritchard Rodeo grounds are for photographers of every size and age. The grounds have a strong metal fence and provides everyone with a safe, unrestricted view of everything that happens.
The location itself, wild-like and tree lined, with the rolling hills in the background couldn’t be more pleasant. And this year our smooth talking Pritchard Community Association was able to get the worn-out, old viewing stand changed to a new grandstand with shinny metal seats instead of the rickety wooden ones and a roof that gives lots more shade.
Pritchard is a small rural community not far from the city of Kamloops. And as I usually do at these events, I spent as much time socializing with people I knew as I did photographing the action. And, of course, there are lots of photographers willing to talk.
I like photographing the bronco, and the bull riding the best. Everything is explosive and the contestants, (I’ll include the horses and bulls as well as the riders) are pitted against each other and seem well matched enough that I can never be sure who will win. I feel for the riders when they hit the hard ground, but I must admit that I enjoy getting photographs of them flying wildly through the air.
However, as much as I like those events, I wouldn’t want to miss the barrel racing. Trying to capture what seems to me like a gravity-defying moment of horse and rider as they fast and furiously circle the barrel is exciting. Those young women riders are talented and must spend endless hours in training with their horses to do that.
For those that haven’t read my thoughts on shooting sports before, let me say again that when photographing fast, volatile subjects like those at a rodeo I prefer shutter priority mode where I select the shutter, and the camera chooses the aperture. I prefer shutterspeeds of 1/500th or more if possible. One also must be aware of depth-of-field, and I balance my shutterspeed and aperture taking that into consideration.
All I do is follow the action, choose a position that allows everything to move towards me, and let the camera’s computer handle the rest. Sometimes the bright sun creates too much contrast, but contrast is easily handled in post-production. Nevertheless, this year we were really lucky with pleasant flat lighting because of high clouds, and even a bit of rain to cool things down.
It was all so easy for the many photographers at the edge of the arena, and I am sure that no matter their skill, most got lots of images worth framing.
As always, I’ll finish my article on the Pritchard rodeo by saying, “No animals, cowboys, cowgirls, or photographers were hurt during the process of having a great time.”