The second rodeo I ever shot, and the first outdoor, was the 2008 Oakdale Rodeo. I don’t remember now how I got in to shoot it, all I know is that I couldn’t get back into Oakdale in 2009, 2010, and 2011. They ignored me again this year (they probably get too much publicity as it is) but thanks to my association with their stock contractor, the world-famous Flying U Rodeo Co., I am getting in through the back door in 2012. Since it’s been four years, I went back to my archive to see what worked (roughstock) and what didn’t (everything else).
Ordinarily I don’t like being restricted to one shooting position, but back in 2008, I didn’t have a 400, so shooting from beside the chutes with light coming in behind me was fine with me. I didn’t have anything long enough to really shoot the timed events, so I cycled through my other lenses as I shot the roughstock events. It’s not often that you get to shoot rodeo action with a 24-70mm lens, but that’s exactly what I did for the bucking chutes at the near end.
As the bull riding was winding down, Thor Smith from Arizona rodeo Mr. Attitude to the space directly in front of the photo area. The resulting wreck is still one of the scariest I have ever seen, with Smith landing on his neck so hard that his face smashed into his chest. Smith was taken out of the hushed arena on a backboard and taken to the hospital, but was luckily not seriously injured.