As I got to the Oakdale Saddle Club for slack on Thursday morning, I said on Twitter that all sporting events should start at 8am or earlier. Yeah, I'm a morning person, but all sports should be shot in this kind of light:
Even as the great light gave way to the harsher stuff, there were still some chances for backlit action:
Not a lot of good locations to shoot barrel racing, but I did get a couple of pictures:
The behind-the-chutes area at Oakdale is very cramped, so I didn't do much in the way of preparation shots, but I was quite happy with this one of my friend Cesar:
8am slack is nice, only a 2 hour drive is nice, but the real highlight of shooting Oakdale is the shooting position that looks directly across the bucking chutes. This is really rare in rodeo, and while there is a high risk/reward curve, it provides opportunities for pictures you can't get elsewhere. So while the hacks do what they do at every other rodeo, making the same pictures they have for 20 years (shooting straight on), I spend most of my time at Oakdale getting as close as I could on a different angle:
You always have to be prepared, but sometimes you need a little luck as well. On this ride, Short Bar came right at the fence where I was shooting, and I had to bail out quickly. This was the last shot before I bailed, the focus point moved from Tyler Nelson to Short Bar's face, giving me one of my favorite pictures ever.
I did shoot one set of saddle broncs from across the arena and got Jesse Wright's winning ride on Flood Damage. Jesse managed an 87 point ride despite knocking his head on the bar above the chutes as Flood Damage reared up at the start of the ride.
My wife joined me at the rodeo, and instantly fell in love with this colt, Flying U #317, who was there to take a lap around the arena as part of Flying U's Born to Buck program. More on #317 in my Red Bluff Round-Up post.
My picture of Coleman Proctor at Oakdale in the June issue of Spin to Win: