2008 Grand National Rodeo

World famous Charro Tomas Garcilazo jumps through his
rope in an impressive display of "La Charreria" or rope artistry.
© Matt Cohen 2008


Anyone who knows me knows that rodeos are my absolute favorite thing
to shoot. With the 2010 Grand National Rodeo less than a month away,
I've been going through my archives, looking at what worked at the Cow
Palace over the last few years.

The 2007 Grand National Rodeo was the first rodeo I had ever been to,
much less shot. It all started when I saw a poster advertising the event,
and managed to get myself assigned to shoot it. I didn't shoot much
sports back then, and had a very hard time adjusting to the very poor
lighting at the Cow Palace. I stretched my gear to the limits, including
running my digital gear at unsupported ISOs and even shooting film,
pushing Tri-X film to 1600. By the third session out of the five I shot, I
was getting good pictures that nonetheless suffered from noticeable film
grain and digital noise.

By the time the 2008 version rolled around, I had a lot more experience
shooting sports in low light, and much better gear (2x Nikon D3 and a
bunch of 1.4/2.0 prime lenses.) Here are some of the pictures.

Barrel racing was the easiest event to shoot because I was able to set
up where the lights were the brightest, and at times use a longer shutter
speed to pan.

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/320 - f/2 - ISO 1600)
Andrea Clark competes in barrel racing.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 135mm f/2 - 1/100 - f/4 - ISO 1000)
Carrie Thompson competes in barrel racing.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/320 - f/2 - ISO 1800)
Jennifer Rosenberg competes in barrel racing.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2+TC 1.4 - 1/320 - f/2.8 - ISO 4000)
Russell Cardoza dismounts his horse and attempts to wrestle a steer.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/320 - f/2 - ISO 1400)
Kass Kayser ropes a calf.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2+TC 1.4 - 1/250 - f/2.8 - ISO 4500)
Blake Knowles wrestles a steer.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/320 - f/2 - ISO 900)
Saddle bronc rider Louie Brunson works the rope.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/320 - f/2 - ISO 1800)
Saddle bronc rider Todd Wegant gets drilled into the dirt head first.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/250 - f/2 - ISO 2200)
Bull rider Chris Alvey makes it look relatively easy.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/320 - f/2 - ISO 1250)
Jerad Schlegel laid all the way out before getting dumped into the dirt.
© Matt Cohen 2008

(Nikon D3 + Nikon 200mm f/2 - 1/400 - f/2.5 - ISO 4000)
J.C. Navarro gets bucked by Hot Rod short of the buzzer. This picture
ran as a 2-page vertical spread in the June 2008 issue of San Francisco
Magazine, next to an ad for a high-end jeweler featuring Christy Turlington
and one for a hedge fund.
© Matt Cohen 2008

After skipping 2009 due to Cow Palace financial issues, the Grand National
Rodeo returns October 20-24 in Daly City, CA.