Minden Rodeo 2016

June 27, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Now that summer has arrived, many sporting events are taking place. One such event where many photographers are ready to capture the action is at the rodeo. There are several different competitions during the 2-hour event, including bareback or saddle Bronc riding, pole bending, barrel racing, bull riding, steer wrestling, tie down roping and team roping. 

One popular event for female riders is barrel racing. Riders race their horses around 3 barrels in the arena following a cloverleaf pattern, with the aim of getting the fastest time without knocking over any of the barrels, although touching or tipping the barrel is acceptable. This rider is intensely focused on the barrel as she maneuvers her horse around it. 

Barrel RacingBarrel RacingAn intense moment as the cowgirl and her horse go around the barrel.

After going around the third barrel, the rider runs a long stretch from the far end of the arena back to the finish line. It seems the louder the crowd cheers, the faster the horse gallops! This is the perfect opportunity to practice panning shots. The photographer needs to switch from the previous high shutter speed used to freeze action around the barrel, to a slower shutter speed and narrower aperture for panning with the galloping motion. With many trial-and-error shots, I was able to get a few where the rider's face was in focus. I really like how the panning effect conveys a sense of motion, as opposed to a static image where everything is sharp.

Galloping to Finish LineGalloping to Finish LineThe louder the crowd cheers, the faster the horse gallops towards the finish line.

Another exciting event at the rodeo is Bronc riding. The cowboy has to stay on the bucking Bronc for at least eight seconds, holding on with just one hand and not letting his other hand touch his horse. The bucking action of the horse is so violent that this event is considered toughest on a rider's body, with the highest stress placed on his arm and back. This cowboy was certainly riding with style!

Bronc RidingBronc RidingCowboy hangs on tightly as he rides the bucking Bronc for at least eight seconds.

At a rodeo, photographers can capture unique action shots while learning a thing or two about cowboys. But for their own safety, photographers must also be prepared with an escape route as aggressive horses or bulls can run into the fence towards them! 


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