I was fortunate to be able to join a great group in the infield for the first day of the 2017 Calgary Stampede Rodeo (thanks Todd!). It’s been a couple of years since I had a good opportunity to photograph down there. Our seats were at the top of the infield which afforded a great view from above the chutes. The bareback event was foreshadowed by the novice bareback riders and they had exciting rides. Below, Lane Ferguson from Granum, Alberta rode Xotic Departure to the day win in the novice bareback event.
A little while later, the professional bareback riding got started. Caleb Bennett and Up Ur Alley put up an 85.50 on the first ride.
Cole Goodine on Soap Bubbles went the full time as well but fell a little short of Caleb’s opening mark.
I’m always amazed watching both the cowboys and the horses – balance, power and speed on both sides of the contest. All are world class and they did more than their share to help the Stampede to live up to its name as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.
Richie Champion astride Twin Cherry won the Day 1 money with a score of 89.00. The first image in this set shows Richie set up well on the horse during the winning ride. Below, the pair explode out of their gate – setting the tone for a great ride.
I started this year’s Calgary Stampede with an afternoon at the rodeo with two good friends. We were part of a larger band of harmless troublemakers so the party started before and continued after the rodeo was over. Photography wasn’t my focus on this visit to the grounds but I did have some good opportunities from the seats in the infield right above the chutes.
It was great to see the cowgirls, cowboys and all of the animals in action. Judging by the capacity crowd and all of their happy faces, I wasn’t alone. Happy Stampede!
The Saddle Bronc was a great event to watch at this year’s Tsuu T’ina Rodeo. The goal is to hang on for 8 seconds during a torturous ride that often finds the horse whipping the cowboy around like a rag doll tied to a rocket. Here are a few images from the finals on July 26th.
(click any image to open a larger version of that image)
All rodeo cowboys are tough. I particularly admire the steer wrestlers as that is an event that I have a hard time even dreaming of trying out. Leaping off a perfectly good horse onto the back of a small cow with large horns seems a bit too close to the insane end of the scale for me.
I absolutely love watching and photographing this event despite having no interest in doing it myself. The short go of the steer wrestling event at the Tsuu T’ina All Indian Rodeo on July 26th put the top 10 qualifiers in the finals and a shot at the money. Keenan Crane (the image directly above) had a great run and took home the cheque and the hardware – well deserved!
This series of Leon Montour pulling in a steer illustrates a bit of the power, balance and danger of this event.
The finals of the 40th annual Tsuu T’ina Nation Indian Rodeo were held on July 27th. This rodeo is a favourite of mine as the competitors, the stock and the atmosphere are all excellent. This year was no exception and I had a great afternoon photographing the cowgirls and cowboys in their respective riding, racing and roping events. The Saddle Bronc is always exciting as these horses get charged up and it is incredibly hard for anyone to hang on for the required 8 seconds. Seth Fenner walked away as the champion with a memorable ride on Cowboy Casanova that earned him 76.5 points (the photograph above is from that ride; the one below is at the end of the ride when the pickup men come in to assist the cowboy’s dismount).
The high quality of the stock contributed to a great final and the cowboys met the challenge. The cowboys in this event always amaze me – it’s like riding a rocket while wrestling an angry crocodile. There were a couple of qualified a number of exciting rides with a couple full times and a couple buck offs. It’s fun to watch and I’m always impressed how skilled and committed all of the supporting cast are (the pick up men, rodeo clowns, officials and beyond). The Tsuu T’ina Rodeo is on the same level as much larger rodeos and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.
Here are a few more photos from the Saddle Bronc event. I will share more from the other events soon.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s 39th Annual Open All Indian Rodeo ran from July 26-28 this year. I went over several times and had a great time on the Redwood Fair Grounds watching the rodeo and the Pow Wow which combine to form the backbone of the Tsuu T’ina’s Annual Indian Days Celebration. The rodeo finals on Sunday got started under dark skies but the rain never fell and the sun drifted in and out of the clouds throughout the afternoon.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/6400th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
It was a perfect afternoon for rodeo and judging by the full grandstand, there were many people who agreed. We were rewarded with a lot of top shelf performances by the cowgirls, cowboys and animals who were competing. Here is a collection of a few of my images from this year’s finals.
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/8 on ISO 800
Canon 5DII camera with a Canon 70-200mm lens + a 1.4X extender at 235mm: 1/1250th of a second at f/6.3 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1250th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 800
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/1000th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/5.6 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 400
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2500th of a second at f/4 on ISO 1600
The steer wrestler above is Virgil Jacobs. He came out guns blazing and beat all the other cowboys to win the event this year. My hat is off to you sir!
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/640th of a second at f/11 on ISO 1600
Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/2000th of a second at f/4 on ISO 400
(click on any image to open a higher resolution version)
The Bews are a ranching family and the youngest generation is following that well-worn path. When I was photographing them at the ranch Mady and Katie showed their ease in the saddle and proved to be very good sports while the shutter clicked away.
Katie was learning to trot and she seemed to master it over the course of a few crosses of the overgrown field during the morning. Mady practiced her roping which made for some great photographic opportunities.
While the girls rode, their grandmother Rosemary, grandfather Tom and his brother Joe alternated between time in front of the camera, tending to their horses and chatting. Very good people with lot’s of room in their hearts for their family, their animals and their land. It was a pleasure to spend some time with them.
Joe Bews in the morning leading his horse up with his partner by his side and later running through the dry creek bed.
Tom taking a break from the saddle
The last image I took up at the ranch was of the Bews family as they headed back for the trail back down to their farms. A warm thank you to them for coming out on a cold morning which became a hot afternoon. And, thanks to Julian Ferreira and his team at The Camera Store for arranging for a great day in the High Country on the edge of Kananaskis.
In fact, Julian stood in as a cowboy model in the cook shack and played the role exceptionally well.
The rodeo down at the Calgary Stampede today was great today. It was Day One for the Group B competitors and it seemed obvious that they were ready to get started.
Here, Cody Cassidy has just left a perfectly comfortable horse to dive onto the back of a slightly ornery cow. The Donalda, Alberta cowboy did a great job with this ride pulling the steer down in 4.5 seconds which was good for second place on the day.
Blake Knowles, from Heppner, Oregon, digs boots into the dirt as he drags the steer to a stop.
Clint Cannon had a wild ride on Coal Black with the horse winning today’s round. It was a good Bareback event matchup and I would like to see Clint turn in some good scores and get into the final.
In the same event, Jake Vold drew Witch Doctor. The horse lived up to its name and was a tricky ride. One that the Bareback rider from Ponoka, Alberta was up to the challenge for. Together, the pairing won the day with an 86.0 ride.
Savannah Reeves, a perennial contender from Cross Plains, Texas who won the 2010 Ladies Barrel Racing event rounds the first barrel during her run.
I can’t wait for the weekend. The performances have already been great and I am excited about what we will see for the finals.
Jake Reinhart is a steer wrestler from Highmore in South Dakota. He competed at the 100th Calgary Stampede Rodeo yesterday and turned in a 4.6 second run. Enough to put him in the day money and move him closer to the finals on the last day of Stampede.
He also ran a nice line to keep the steer on course for Wade Sumpter (wrestling in the image above) who placed one spot ahead of Jake with a 4.4 second finish good for $2500.
Only 67 days to the start of the 100th Calgary Stampede. With this year being the centennial anniversary for the Stampede, the rodeo, and all of the events in general, should be fantastic. I have a lot of fun as a spectator, a fan and a photographer at the rodeo. Great action and amazing performances by the animals and the athletes. I’m already getting excited about getting down to the grounds and covering the Stampede again this year.
These images are from the past couple of years and include a selection of my favourites. You can click on this link or any of the images to go to the full gallery.
I will be displaying a couple of prints in the Western Showcase again this year and am planning to shoot the rodeo for the third straight year. I hope to add a few to this collection this year.
Cody Cover Chuck during his championship ride in the bull riding event at the 2011 Tsuu T’ina Rodeo on July 24th. Cody’s young, just in the tail end of his teens, but has a long string of championships through youth and junior rodeos. The way he rides, there would be no surprise if he earns a spot on the pro circuit sooner than later.
This year’s edition of the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo was great fun. With people attending from across North America, this rodeo has a great breadth of people involved in competing, organizing and enjoying. The level of competition was really high this year with some cowboys making some impressive rides. The finals were on Sunday and I was able to work with some of the guys managing the chutes to get great access. Some of the resulting images are from quite a different perspective from where I normally shoot the rodeo.
The athletes, competitors and visiting people are very friendly and this is the second year in a row where I have made a couple of great new friends. Robert and Dave, I hope you like these images as you guys helped me so much by allowing me to stand on top of the gates and letting me know when the bulls were moving up – thanks!
This fellow was a funny guy and a very good rodeo clown. The clowns are some of the hardest workers in the corral – this guy was no exception.
I love watching the barrel racing teams sprint towards the line after the last barrel. It provides a great opportunity to capture the motion of the rider and horse, especially when they are both leaning into it.
This cowboy had a really good ride. When the bulls get out of the gate and then start jumping and spinning, there is every chance of a great score… if the rider can stay onboard.
Another great rodeo at the Tsuu T’ina First Nation near Bragg Creek. Thank you to all of the cowboys, cowgirls, horses and bulls who put on a great show.
Wild Card Saturday on July 16th was the last day of the competition before the Calgary Stampede Rodeo Finals. Billed “Rodeo’s Richest Afternoon”, Showdown Sunday is the day all of the athletes were gunning for throughout the event.
The top four money winners in each pool leading up to the weekend had their ticket to the Finals in hand so they had the day off. For the rest, this was their last shot to qualify for the finals. There were two wild card spots in each event so getting to Sunday was no easy task. Here are some images from the rail.
Bell Dinger bucked Chad Besplug of Claresholm, Alberta off just after the gate was opened ending this cowboy’s run to the Finals for 2011. Chad had a good ride on Monday with an 84, I hope he gets invited back next year.
Seven Persons, Alberta bareback rider, Reid Rowan, in the middle of a battle of wills with Gorgeous Connie. Reid won with a full time ride but scored 80 and missed the Final.
Sierra Stoney from DeWinton, Alberta bares down on the second barrel. Sierra’s horse knocked this barrel down while exiting the turn and she finished outside of the top two spots.
Despite appearances, Tyler Corrington rode Awesome for the full 8 seconds. He scored 83.50 and missed the Finals by half a point. The Wild Card saddle bronc event had a two point spread between the top spot and 6th place. Very tough to sit out Sunday when you’re that close to being in.
Ryan MacKenzie of Jordan Valley, Oregon stares down the neck of Gross Beetle during a 79.50 point ride in the Saddle Bronc event during Wild Card Saturday at the 2011 Calgary Stampede Rodeo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
A final one from Reid Rowan, well known for his curly mane and his exuberant flair, here disappears altogether to suggest that the Invisible Man has taken up rodeo – for one kick anyways.
I spent the afternoon back at the Calgary Stampede Rodeo on Sunday. Some great rides across all events matched with fine weather made for a great afternoon. The rain came with a fury later during the chuck wagon races but left us alone for the rodeo.
As is the custom all of the day’s competitors come out at the beginning to tip their hats to the crowd and stand for the national anthem.
Here one of the mares, Lush Margie, launches Jim Berry of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta on a short-lived flight.
Wade Sumpter of Fowler, Colorado leaps on a mini bull before trying to wrestle it to the ground.
Leaping out of the chute like a beast on a mission, Broken Lady gave Ryan Gray of Petersburg, Texas a pretty entertaining ride.
Joe Gunderson of Agar, South Dakota pulls free of his ride, Kalispell Whiskey, as the horse runs along the rails sending the cowboys up the rails to get out of the way.
Kelly Timberman of Mills, Wyoming in the middle of a good test with Jay Bar Nine.
A break in the action for the Red and White
Clint Cooper leaps while his horse stands on the brakes during the tie-down roping event.
Mid-flight after being flung well clear of the saddle during the saddle bronc event.
Lane Stuckey of Rocky Mountain House, Alberta competing in the novice saddle bronc event gets bucked off Tough Alloy.
Cory Hines from Rocky Rapids, Alberta as he and Super Nest leap out of the gate during the novice saddle bronc event shortly before parting ways as seen below.
The Bar U Ranch is a national historic site in southwest Alberta. A nice drive from Calgary and a great place for photography with the clock turned back over a hundred years.
I was revisiting this photograph that I made last summer. The door to this bunkhouse was open with all of these pieces of ranch hand gear laid out so that it seemed like one of them could walk up any moment. Just one of many interesting scenes they have created at the ranch for visitors to see and feel how life on the western frontier was lived.
The Travel Photographer of the Year awards have announced their shortlist and I have images in the hunt across three categories. The TPOTY is a major competition out of the UK so it is pretty exciting to have some of my work recognized to this stage.
The image of the monks on the bridge at sunset in Amarapura in Myanmar is one of three images that are in the running for the single shot category. The nuns at prayer and the lone fisherman are the other images that have been shortlisted in this category.
The following four images are finalists for the World in Motion portfolio category.
The last set is a really fun category to be shortlisted in. It is the New Talent category. The portfolio I entered was for Bagan in central Myanmar. The objective was to sell a location, a journey or an idea. From the TPOTY website: “Tell the story of a place, a destination, an experience, a journey, even a travel commodity, but sell it to us. Make us want to experience it. This category is for photographers looking to start a career in photography. Your images should give the judges a real sense of the place or travel experience and entice them too. This is your travel advert.” I tried to share the wonder of Bagan across the four images. It was an interesting exercise to cull through all of the photographs I made in Bagan and select four that provided a window into the people and the land.
With this competition’s international profile, there are many very high quality entries so it is exciting to have a range of work reach the final round. The winning images will be announced in the next couple of weeks so we’ll see what happens.
On Monday, I went down to the Lion’s 44th Annual Labour Day Rodeo for the finals of the weekend long event. This was my third rodeo that I have attended this summer and I joined my parents, aunt and uncle, and my wife’s parents. It was fun to enjoy a bit of time together down at the grounds.
I can’t say enough good things about this event. A large portion of the townspeople of Cochrane were down on the grounds. The banter between the announcer and the lead rodeo clown throughout the afternoon was fun and held the crowd’s interest between rides. The cowgirls and cowboys were impressive as they competed in their specialties. There were more than a few outstanding rides. I am always impressed by the level of skill on display at all of the rodeos, big and small, throughout Alberta.
I wasn’t at the rodeo on Sunday, so I missed seeing Darwin Wiggett and Wayne Simpson there. They both posted images from their time on the grounds – great work by both. The event drew a fair number of photographers but there was plenty of room to set up and move around the gates.
The Lion’s Annual is a small rodeo in Cochrane that I love attending every year. It has very good talent (both people and animals) and a great atmosphere which makes you feel like a close member of the community.
I’m heading down for the Finals right now but wanted to post a couple of images I took on Saturday afternoon as the storms started to roll in.
The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s reserve lands run on both sides of Highway 22x, The Cowboy Trail, as you approach Bragg Creek from the east. Every year, the band holds a Rodeo and Pow Wow in July at their Beaverdome and rodeo grounds across the road from the Redwood Meadows Golf Course.
The event is attended by nations from all across North America. The rodeo is a major pull for competitors and fans alike. Drawing on a rich history of horsemanship and true cowboy toughness, these men and women put on an exciting, unpredictable and truly enjoyable show.
Here is a sequence showing a great ride ending with a hard, hard landing…
… I spoke to this gentleman afterwards where he had missed a full ride by less than a second. He told me he almost had him and all he wanted to do was get back on tomorrow. Awesome! Pretty mean looking horse too.
I stayed late on Saturday night, with the sun leaving us in twilight, a moon drifting higher in the east and the bulls seeming to gain the upper hand over the would be riders. It was a relief at the end, as there were a couple of bad tramples. There may have been a couple of broken bones but not many moans. It has been said how tough cowboys are and watching a bull stomp on a rider’s knee or chest, that comes to light in the aftermath.
The breath holding eased as the last of the riders made their way off the dirt. Giving room for the beauty of the area and a great sporting event to take back center stage in the minds of the crowd as we shuffled out of the grandstands.
I already can’t wait for next year’s rodeo (July 22-24). If you can make it, you will have a great time and meet some wonderful people.
On Sunday afternoon, I was down at the Calgary Stampede photographing the rodeo finals.
Thanks to a conversation with the media accreditation manager at the Stampede along with a call to, and a letter from, Roy Anstey, I was able to get media credentials for the event. Roy is the editor of the Bragg About the Creek magazine that I have been working with for a few issues now. Armed with the media pass, I was able to tour the stocks before the rodeo started where the animals were waiting to march into the fray.
When the rodeo got underway, the events came shotgun style as the cowboys and cowgirls competed to get into the final round. The action was incredible and I have to say no one takes a bigger beating in sports than the bull and bareback riders.
Fred Whitfield as he jumps off his horse to pick up the calf and time it up. Whitfield, a Texan from Hockley, tied Matt Shiozawa in the final with a 7.4 second run. They rode one more time to determine the winner with Shiozawa taking this hotly contested tie down roping event.
Jim Berry from Rocky Mountain House, AB riding Knife Money in the qualifying round. Berry placed 3rd overall.
Lindsay Sears riding hard for the finish line. The Nanton, Alberta barrel racer finished 2nd with a 17.31 second ride, missing 1st by 0.06 seconds!
After a couple of hours of hard riding, the finals were set for what the announcer billed as the “Richest Hour in Rodeo”. As each winner of the saddle bronc, barrel racing, bareback, bullriding, steer wrestling and tie down roping takes home $100,000. Second nabs $25,000 with third at $15,000 and fourth walking (or limping) away with $10,000 . The crowd was roaring, thunder clouds were looming off to the south and the animals were fired up. When the men and women started performing the energy in the whole place exploded. Every event was close and they kept coming with only a short break for the winner before the next group got started. It might have been a bit longer than an hour when it was all over but it felt like five minutes.
Boxholm, Iowa’s Wade Sundell rode Lynx Mountain for a 90.50 in the qualifier. Here Sundell is just out of the gate riding Mata Fact to an 88.50 and title in the championship round of the Saddle Bronc event.
Savannah Reeves of Dublin, Texas posted consecutive rides of 17.25 seconds to win the Barrel Racing event. She beat Lindsay Sears whose home she was staying at during the Stampede – nice house guest 🙂
Here Duncan Douglas “dismounts” from Wranglers Deja Vue after completing 8 seconds astride the beast. Douglas, hailing from Alvin, Texas, won the Bull Riding event by one point over Beau Hill with an 88.0 on this ride.
What a great event! I will be going to some of the local, feeder rodeos around Southern Alberta through the summer and I can’t wait for next year’s Stampede. I had a great time working at this event and can’t believe how much fun it is shooting from the rails.