Pritchard Rodeo 2017    

A whole year has past and once again I joined my friends and neighbours for a dusty, fun-filled Sunday at the Pritchard Rodeo.

Now that the rodeo has come and gone and I am sitting at my computer looking through the many pictures I took, it is easy to see that I had a great time. Actually I am pretty sure everyone that attended, participants, organizers, spectators and photographers, had a great time.

This year’s event was a little sparse. Not when it came to all the spectators, the stands were full. But the numbers of cowboys and cowgirls participating was way down because of the wildfires across the province. I expect many were either evacuated and were struggling to safeguard their homes and livestock or they couldn’t get to the rodeo with all the road closures.

The days leading up to this weekend have been smoke filled and the sky has been grey. But by 10AM on Sunday blue sky with a few clouds. My friend Dave Monsees stopped by my house and ten minutes later we were ringside with our cameras, Dave with his 100-400mm and me with my 70-200mm.

At 1PM the Rodeo Chairman, Pritchard Rodeo stood center ring and waved his hat, the announcer called out the first event, a bronc rider burst into the arena, and all the photographers along the rails started shooting.

I’ve written before how suitable the Pritchard Rodeo grounds are for photographers. There’s a strong metal arena railing that makes it safe to stand close to the action without restricting the view. And every year I look forward to standing there along side all the other photographers that, like me, enjoy capturing the fast moving test of wills between animals and riders. I think that photographing any action event is fun and there’s always action at a rodeo.

This year I met two well-known British Columbia rodeo photographers, Elaine Taschuk from Vancouver and Tony Roberts from Kelowna. They talked about other rodeos in BC and their favourite lenses for capturing the action, and naturally the Canon vs. Nikon quips were flying.

Pritchard is the only rodeo I attend. Its close by, easy to get to, and easy to photograph. All one has to do is pay attention to where the participants are coming from and take up a position that allows everything to move towards the camera. Then I select shutter priority, choose a fast shutterspeed and start shooting. I prefer to use Shutter priority (“TV” on Canon and “S’ on Nikon) so I can select the shutter’s speed and let the camera choose the aperture. Yep, it’s darned easy.

This year’s rodeo (or any rodeo for that matter) was a great way to spend the day. When I got home I downloaded my images and quickly edited out those that didn’t look good, then cropped and balanced the exposure on those I chose to keep.

There will be lots of rodeos over the summer and into the fall that are well worth any photographer’s time. My advice is to grab that camera and mount any zoom lens that, at least, goes to 200mm. Then enjoy a day that will fill your computer with some great action photographs.

A Fun Day Photographing the Pritchard Rodeo.

 

 

 

A family event

Ride 'em

 

Doesn't look safe

 

Excellent riding

 

Horse 1 cowboy ?

 

JRE_6489 copy

 

Trick rider

 

Take-off

 

Bronco

 

Barrel horse & Rider

 

Barrel Rider

 

Leaving the shute

Every year I look forward to spending a dusty, fun-filled day pointing my camera lens thru the arena rails at the Pritchard Rodeo in Pritchard, British Columbia Canada.

My wife dropped me off and I walked down the dirt road to the arena. Events had already begun, and as I looked around at lots of familiar faces I spotted Karl Pollak, his Nikon cradled in one arm waving at me. Karl had driven four hours that morning from the large metropolis of Vancouver to attend our small rural community rodeo.

He had brought another photographer, Meko Walker, and this was her first time at a rodeo. As we were introduced, happy as I was to see Karl, meet Meko, and shoot with the two of them, I wondered how these photographers from the moderate humid climate of a coastal city were going to cope with the sunny, cloudless, windless, extremely dry, 40 degree Celsius day.

There was a lull in the action as we talked and the Pritchard fire department’s water truck drove around the arena spraying water. We moved aside continuing our conversation (protecting our cameras from the water), but two young girls ran rail side laughing as they danced around in the wet, cooling spray.

While we waited, sitting on the edge of the hill that ran down from the bandstand, I asked Karl why he would come all the way when there were other rodeos closer to Vancouver. He replied, “I like the wild location. Look at the hills, and trees, and all the open space.” And after snapping a wide angle shot of the arena the added, everyone is so friendly, they say hello even though they don’t know me, and there is a beer garden with people drinking, but no one is getting drunk, being loud, or causing trouble.”

The Pritchard Rodeo grounds are perfect for photographers. The arena is enclosed with a strong metal fence that’s safe to stand close to and doesn’t restrict the view. Of course, one has to be careful when excited horses are getting ready for the Barrel Race, but heck, it is a rodeo and one must remember that the animals, like any other athletes, are focusing on what they are about to do, not some silly person with a camera.

I like that rodeo, and as I wrote, every year I look forward to photographing it. I like capturing things that move fast, it challenges me to think and I enjoy the test of wills between animals and riders. Photographing any action event is fun, and one can be sure there will be action at a rodeo.

This year they added children’s sheep riding. I don’t know who is more bewildered, the poor kids being coaxed along by their parents, or the sheep trying to figure out why there is something on their back and why some big human is trying to persuade them to leave the enclosure they were just herded into. When the sheep finally were cajoled to move, the young rider would usually slide off, and fall to the ground pretty quickly. After all wool is slippery.

Another addition this year was the trick riders. Although I really like the Saddle Bronc, Bareback, Bull Riding competitions and, of course, Barrel Racing, I must admit those trick riders were amazing. I was actually requested to stand center arena so I could photograph them as they performed in a wide circle around me. Gosh, it doesn’t get much better than that.

When they beckoned Meko and I into the riding arena I was briefly worried that my 70-200mm lens would be too long, but as it was I had lots of room to move around and it was just fine.

Rodeos are easy to photograph. One just has to pay attention to where the action is coming from and take up a position that allows everything to move towards the camera.

Then choose a fast shutterspeed and start shooting. I prefer to use shutter priority; I select the shutter, and the camera chooses the aperture. All I need to do is follow the action as the camera’s computer handles the rest. Yep, it’s all pretty easy.

There should be a note saying, “No animals, cowboys, cowgirls, or photographers were hurt during the process of having a great time.”

I appreciate comments. Thanks, John

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com

Photographing Rob’s and Camille’s Farm Wedding

Bride and dogs

Exchanging rings

wedding vows with dog

Groomsmen & Dogs

wedding party

Resting after the wedding

 

When Camille called and said, “Rob and I are getting married. Would you be our photographer?” I didn’t hesitate for a minute and replied, “Yes!” I think I added something like, “Its about time.” I knew it would be fun, relaxed, unusual, and I was absolutely sure they would be as non-traditional as possible.

These days I shy away from taking on the job of wedding photographer, only making myself available for those weddings that seem fun. I figure I have paid my dues when it comes to wedding photographer. It used to be that by spring I anticipated I’d be pointing my camera at excited couples every weekend till Thanksgiving. Those days are behind me and now I just pick and choose to photograph people I know or people that know people I know.

So I packed two camera bodies, a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm lens with a couple of flashes and set out for their rural farm down-the-road-a-piece from here at Monte Lake. I think they would have held the ceremony on the lake, but finding space between the boats, the trailers, and the campers this time of year is hard.

Rob had set up two large seating areas, one under a very large tarp and the other in an open-sided tent of the type the big stores use when they have a sale on furniture or something large. I said their wedding would be a fun, relaxed, unusual, non-traditional and will add that by the time I arrived the partying guests had spread out across much of the property.

I’ll begin with all the shiny, big, loud-engined, large-tires with fancy rims kind of trucks with floorboards several feet off the ground that just kept rolling in honking and parking anywhere that wasn’t occupied by seemingly out-of-place cars like my little Honda, while at the same time Harley Davidson motorcycles were arriving and arriving. Add to that several very young drivers, zooming back and forth on quads, and little dirt bikes, greeting those guests as they got out of their trucks and off their motorcycles.

And dogs, I had to get around to the dogs. I knew Rob and Camille had four or five, but there were others running around and more waited for their owners to open their truck tailgates so they could join the festivities.

Several young men filled a horse-watering trough with beer, pop, bottled water, and ice. And as they arrived people would take food to tables in the center of a big truck garage. I would expect nothing different as Rob and Camille do like a party and all I had to do was point my camera any direction and watch the fun and enjoyment

As everyone walked though the meadow to rows of white chairs set up for ceremony, low clouds rolled in warning us all to beware of coming events with a sprinkle or two of rain and with the knowledge it was going to get darker, I selected ISO 800 on my camera. I also had an extra handkerchief ready in my pocket to wipe the rain off my camera and flash to keep it dry to prevent shorting the electronic circuits.

Weddings usually start the same. The guests sit in anticipation, with the groom at the front, waiting for the arrival of the bride. Then the bridesmaids come walking in, and the bride enters arm and arm with her father.

In Rob and Camille’s case, the groom was waiting at the front with his dog and the bride walked up with her father flanked by her two very large mastiffs and in the distance some horses and a calf watched. And folks this was unrehearsed. The dogs did what they did on their own.

Guests were capturing the event with their cell phones. I recalled a time when I had the only single lens reflex camera at a wedding. It seems history was repeating itself and technology has marched on and again I had the only SLR.

The wedding ceremony photographs included dogs. The minister; a “new age religion type” tried to keep everything solemn, speaking of love and commitment, but thanks to those very interested in being part of everything dogs, there was a lot of laughing.

I dialed down my flash (Readers know I always use flash.) to balance the diminishing light and shot the ceremony, dogs and all, did the obligatory family photos, and the bridal party leaning on a rail fence pictures. Then a cool breeze wandered in and the rain gods decided it was time to get things wet and opened the floodgates for the rain and the rest of my day was left to making a documentary of their friends at the party eating and getting wet by the bonfire.

The day at Rob and Camille’s was a perfect way to end the week. A great wedding with friendly and enjoyable people, a fun party, big shiny trucks and flashy motorcycles to look at, lots of animals and of course the kind of event any photographer would enjoy.

As always, I really appreciate all comments. Thanks, John

My website is at www.enmanscamera.com