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Thread: Shooting a Rodeo...

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Shooting a Rodeo...

    Are there any hints from experienced (or at least someone who has even shot a rodeo) regarding shooting rodeo action.

    I have not attended a rodeo in 40-years and I have never shot one. I am attending the Lakeside, California Rodeo with my camera group. We have a block of tickets reserved which are supposed to be pretty good seats (although I don't exactly know where I will be sitting). Unfortunately, we won't have press passes and be able to wander the area..

    http://www.lakesiderodeo.com/

    The photo group web page states: "With a 2pm start time - and done by 5, we should have the sun high in the sky. It is probably best to bring your long zoom lenses to to get the best shots at 200mm or longer."

    I plan on bringing my 30D, 40D and 7D cameras with a 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and a 70-200mm f/4L IS lens. I will bring my 300mm f/4L IS lens. I will carry two cameras (probably with the long lenses) on my OPTECH Dual Harness and I will carry the third camera in my bag.

    I plan to bring my monopod also. I use a Kirk MPS-1 Monopod Swivel which accepts the Arca Compatible mounts on the tripod rings of the long lenses and the RRS L-bracket on the camera wih the short zoom. I usually shoot with the monopod swivel fairly loose so I can move the camera around easier to follow action.

    My plans are to have the 70-200mm f/4L IS lens on my 7D because I will probably use this lens the most. I will mount my 300mm f/4L IS lens on my 40D because that camera is second best as far as A/F capability goes. Since, I probably will not be shooting action using the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens, I will have that mounted on the 30D.

    I will shoot AV with an ISO of about 400. I will want to throw the BG out of focus as much as possible but, still have enough DOF to ensure the cowboys and animals are in focus. I would think that f/5.6 might be a good place to start.

    I am not sure if flash will be allowed or even if my 550EX will have enough power to provide some fill at HSS sync. I will probably bring it anyway. Every time I leave something home I get bitten in the "you know where" by needing it and not having it!

    Since there will probably be no (or very little) sky in the action shots, I am not bringing CPL filters for my long lenses however, I will bring (but may not use) a CPL for my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens.

    BTW: I am going to google "How to photograph a rodeo"... Google is my friend!

  2. #2

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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    The shots you get are going to depend on the location of the seats so hopefully you are close enough to the action to fill half the frame.. ( I doubt your 17-55 will come out of the bag unless you can get in the chutes or barns. The 400 for me would be to much to pan and not shake.)

    They move fast so not too tight on them. Fresh out of the chute is when you are going to get the most action so be prepared. Set your camera up ahead of time and I'd suggest a shutter speed of 1000 to start if you want to stop the hooves. The aperture will depend on how far away you are and what you want to include but I'd suggest maxing it out as high as you can. Keeping the DOF down to the length of the animal will be hard to do and you'll want to get some background in anyway. You will have enough time between riders to check your results and discard the glaring bad ones and reset any settings if you wish. I'd also suggest using your highest speed continuous shutter. I've seen some great shots taken immediately after the cowboy separates from the animal so don't stop shooting until the cowboy hits the ground. Even after that, the bulls will sometimes go after the rider or clowns so watch for it. (They really want to hurt someone.)

    The announcer will probably let you know when a good animal or cowboy is coming up. Good bulls will spin and not travel laterally very much. Really good bulls will also reverse direction during the 8 seconds. Good broncs will travel a bit but not so fast as you won't be able to pan well. (If they go too far they usually lose points because it takes away from the bucking action.) Best shots are going to come when the horse either shoots straight up or are in the classic pose of rear hooves high in the air with the cowboys spurring stretched to the front shoulders.

    My best suggestion is to look at some examples to see what you can expect and prepare. Try this site and google other rodeo photos. Calgary will be a good name to add to the search.

    http://www.rodeophoto.ca/rodeo

    By the way, keep in mind these people care a lot for their animals and none are purposely put at risk. The bucking animals are not so much trying to get the rider off but rather trying to get rid of the belt that was tightened up in front of their hind legs as they left the chute. Watch and you'll see they stop bucking when the belt falls off of the bull or the pickup men release the belt on a horse. If you haven't been before I'm sure you'll have a great time. Yee-Haw.
    Last edited by Andrew1; 12th April 2012 at 12:59 PM.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    Andrew,

    Thanks for the tips. They were just what I wanted. Also, thanks for the links to the great rodeo photos.

  4. #4
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    Here is the seating plan of the rodeo arena.

    Shooting a Rodeo...

    My group has seats in section B, rows 1,2,5 and 11. there are 21 rows high in the bleachers. The moderator will be handing out the tickets on a first come, first served basis. The difference between row 1 and 11 is about 25 or 30 feet. Row 1 is about 40' (pure guess - could be 60') from the middle of the arena.

    It looks like I will have my best chance at good shots with the bucking competition when the action is coming towards the camera at a slight angle. The roping competition will be coming across the camera front (if indeed it continues as far as Section B)

    I don't know what type of barrier there is between the action in the ring and the seats in Section B. If the barrier is fairly high, I might be better off in one of the seats further back (and higher up) while if I could shoot over the barrier and the front rows of people, then Row 1 would be the best spot. That is, if the action continues as far as that end of the arena.

    I don't usually even consider shooting sporting events from seating. That is, of course a pretty poor spot from which to shoot. However, I paid my money and am taking my chance. Anyway, sixteen U.S. Dollars is not a great price to pay and the money goes to worthwhile causes, the children and teenagers of that area for recreation and education.

    No monopods are allowed, so at least I dont have to decide whether to take my pod or not.

    What the heck, I may come away with some decent shots. Planning this type of shoot is half the fun...

  5. #5

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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    You're going to be a long way from the chutes so the 70-200 will be your best bet. Hopefully some of the stock works over towards you. If it's not full try moving towards the center of the arena. It looks like you've got the standard steel rails about 3 1/2 feet high. Some have more wire added as well. Everything looks fairly open though. If you can't take a monopod you could perhaps sneak in a cane to rest on? There's a better link on the Google search from a MySpace account I couldn't link to but take a look and you'll find it.

    http://lakesiderodeo.com/photo.html
    Last edited by Andrew1; 12th April 2012 at 10:51 PM.

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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    Please excuse my ignorance, but it seems weird that your photography group is expected to stay in your seats. Nearly every memorable photo of a rodeo is taken not from the seats, but much closer to the action.

    No matter what the venue; rodeo, auto race, or whatever, an enterprising photographer will try to find the perspective that the general admission spectators do not have.

    There will probably be an "official" photographer there, no doubt with special permission to get close. Good luck!

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    I certainly will try to make my way toward the field. It's amazing what a couple of cameras, a photo vest and a confident attitude will do.

    I was in a great spot for the San Diego Mission Bay Thunderboat races a couple of years ago, right on the beach near a turn where I was able to get the roosters comb of spray in back of the boats framing them.

    http://rpcrowe.smugmug.com/Sports/TH...168016&k=6WvFm

    Several security types passed by and paid me no mind. It wasn't until the next day that I found out that this was an area off limits to the genaral public. A boat missed the turn and beached right about where I was standing the previous day. Oh well, I got some good shots...

  8. #8
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    I just found out that the horses and bulls are arrriving at the rodeo grounds on the Thursday before the shoot. The cowboys will be working them around the grounds to familiarize them with the arena. This is open to the public and I can shoot from any spot I desire (as long as it is outside the fencing).

    I will be able to get a good idea of what the place looks like and may also get some good shots.

    It's great to be retired! I don't know how I ever found time to go to work!

  9. #9
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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    It's great to be retired! I don't know how I ever found time to go to work!
    Hahaha!
    Being 37, I'm seriously jealous. Enjoy your time at the rodeo.

  10. #10
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    Wife of retired guy: "what are you doing today"?

    Retired guy: "nothing".

    Wife: "you did that yesterday"

    Retired guy: "I wasn't finished".


    Rodeos are fun - take a chance on wandering around with your vest and camera slung around your neck - the worst that can happen is they ask you to move. Don't change lenses - it can be very dusty.

    Glenn

  11. #11
    drjuice's Avatar
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    Re: Shooting a Rodeo...

    I'd suggest trying to get a front row seat because that would at least give a nominally stable surface on which to rest your camera (one of the rails). Also, if you're in the front row, you won't need to worry bumping anybody in front of your with the other thing I'm about to suggest. The other thing is what I call a stringpod. It is "tied" to the lens of your camera with the two ends of the string tied to two of your jeans' belt loops (I use the two that are halfway between the center front loop and the side loops. If you actually have a belt occupying the loops, you can use two small carabiners to attach the string to (I used a piece of COTTON clothesline -- not polypropylene or nylon which aren't as flexible so won't stay tied). The length of string should be long enough (or short enough) to allow you hold your camera in front of your focusing eye (if you use manual focus), also to frame your picture(s), and also to steady up the camera while your exposure is being taken.

    For mine, I connected the string to the lens by using a long-broken UV filter. First, I put a double layer of papertoweling on the camp table (it's be better to do this in your kitchen at home, but I was camping).

    My next move was to borrow a chisel from another camper (because I could hit the top end of the handle with a hammer) to break out the remaining glass. A couple of tiny pieces remained after I got the chisel to break out nearly everything. Then, I used my Swiss Army knife so as to get those tiny pieces out and onto the papertowel.

    Next, I went into beautiful downtown Page (AZ) and found a hardware store that had both superglue and what amounts to small versions of the tops of pushpins you use on a corkboard. I superglued the stubs to exactly opposite sides of the filter's mounting ring (used a ruler to be sure I got them exactly opposite).

    Then, after the superglue was dry, I cut my clothesline into two pieces and knotted one end of each piece around one of the stubs.

    Finally, I worked out the distance from my eye level to the top of the D-rings when I pulled the string taut and clipped off the excess clothesline on each side (I left about 8" on each string to allow for how I usually do things and to give me enough string to knot it appropriately). And, voilą, I had a stringpod for the cost of the replacement UV filter, $1.59 for the string, $1 for the stubs, and $2.49 for the superglue (probably available at a Dollar Store or a 99cents store also but beautiful downtown Page didn't have either one). PS it really works, too.

    WARNING! DO NOT DEPEND ON THE STRING TO DO ANYTHING BUT STEADY UP YOUR CAMERA! DO NOT HANG YOUR CAMERA BY THE STRING! DO NOT LET THE CAMERA DANGLE FROM YOU HAND USING ONLY THE STRING!

    If you're not a doityourselfer, you can probably buy one from ads in the back of Shutterbug, Pop Photo, Outdoor Photographer, etc.

    v




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