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Boring Rodeo Thursday, March 01, 2007

(left, and below) Behind the chutes, cowboys prepare themselves for the Wild West Rough Stock Rodeo on Feb. 24, in Boring, Ore.

The Sandy Post asked me to photograph the Wild West Rough Stock Rodeo in Boring* last weekend. I've photographed rodeos a few times before, but this one was bit different.

First, it was only the rough stock events—bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riding. PRCA rodeos
include those events, but also have calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, and barrel racing.

Another difference which I was grateful for, given the time of year, was that the event was indoors at the Northwest Equestrian & Event Center. At least that kept us dry.

The dryness, though, meant that the ground in the arena was extremely dusty. My gear had a good coating on the outside when the night was through.

The biggest issue for me was the light—I think I've seen more at the bottom of a mine shaft. The fluorescent bulbs that were spread across the arena put out a whopping 1/160th at f/2.8, ISO 3200. I used my on-camera strobe for much of the event, but there were two problems with that (not counting the fact that it ain't pretty light, either): first, when I was shooting through the arena fence, the bars of the fence always seemed to be directly in front of the flash when my lens was in the gap. (Bouncing it off the curved ceiling wasn't an option. Sure, it had been painted white about 20 years ago, but that had worn so thin you could see every grain and knot in the wood, even through the layers of dust.)

I later found a location where I didn't have the fence issue. However, the dust in the air reflected back a lot of the light, making the photos pretty hazy. So I pushed it at 1/200th without the flash, and hoped for the best. In the end, I managed to get a passable shot of a bull rider getting bucked off, which is what the paper ran. (I actually got a few decent
shots, but keeping track of which cowboy was in which image was a nightmare. There was a program, but the cowboys were listed alphabetically, not in the order they rode. And they all had numbers pinned on their back, but those were never referred to by the announcer, in the program, nor in the results.)

But my favorite images of the night were these (above, and right) which I shot before the competition started. It was even darker back there (1/60th) but that wasn't such an issue because they weren't moving as quickly.

*Just to be clear, Boring is the name of the town southeast of Portland, not (necessarily) an adjective to describe it. I haven't spent enough time there to make that call.


Laƫtitia said...

Hello !

Interesting pictures of this ... interesting town of Boring !?
Did they attract lots of people to this rodeo with such an inviting city name ?

I've also shot some rodeo a few weeks ago ... in a year long almost sleepy village (not to say boring ...). It is not really a common sport in Quebec but I enjoyed very much the atmosphere and light backstage. Beautiful shot on your second one. I love it ... and guess what ... it makes me feel visiting Boring !