Facebook has been really important in my quest to learn more about rodeo and to use that understanding to make better rodeo pictures. A couple of weeks ago, I saw Michael Trauner, one of my new FB friends, talking about a practice session where top stock contractor Julio Moreno would be bringing some of his bulls for young riders to get some practice. I'm used to driving several hours to shoot rodeo, so the chance to shoot only two hours away sounded great. I had never been to B Bar Ranch outside of Lincoln, CA, but I figured it would be dark so I brought some speedlites, clamps and remote triggers in case it was too dark to shoot. I didn't count on the Sacramento rush hour traffic, so I ended up not having the time to set up the lights. The "arena" at B Bar is basically a semi-open pavilion lit by florescent tube bulbs, totally appropriate for the the setting. I figured out that I would be shooting at the very edge of my cameras' capabilities, and got to work.
I can go to just about any rodeo in California and know a majority of the cowboys, but after a quick walk around B Bar, I realized that I didn't know anyone, and no one knew me. Queue flashbacks to my first few rodeos. Still, it is very liberating to not be on assignment and just be able to shoot.
I spent some time behind the chutes, and my best picture of the night happened in the first two minutes as Derek McCormack said a prayer:
The riders were so young, high school and a bit older.
My friend Michael holding on to a chute while one of the bulls ran wild in the arena:
This is one of the scariest things that can happen to a bull rider because it's impossible to know when the bull with get up or slam you against the chute. These kids are taught to stay on, and they do it:
Without strobes, action pictures were few and far between, but here are a couple that worked:
I'll be back at B Bar (with strobes) as my schedule permits. Having great access means that I'll be able to try some new things and hopefully be able to recreate them at rodeos this spring.
Thanks to Michael Trauner and Dwayne Hargo Jr.