These horses were walking slowly alongside one of Water Valley’s backroads. We pulled over and I took a few minutes to compose them and a couple of cows in a few different ways. This was my favorite. The animals were languid on a nice afternoon in the Foothills. This field was beautiful to my eye with green and pale gold sharing space across the uneven ground. I used a small aperture of f/22 to keep the three horses each in sharp focus while separating them from the forest in the background. Beautiful country there. I’ve enjoyed wonderful encounters with great gray owls there. It was nice to enjoy another aspect.
I liked it in black and white too!
Kezia and I went to the first night of the Tsuu T’ina Nation Annual Celebration’s 43rd Annual Rodeo. Kezia’s friend was dancing in the Pow Wow so we did not stay too long. Definitely looking forward to getting back tonight.
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.
So far, spring has come in fits and starts. Over the weekend we had a day long snowstorm on Saturday and then it was warm enough to wear shorts outside on Sunday! Crazy stuff but not too far from normal in April on the prairies.
My son and I were out for the day and I photographed these horses when we were in Springbank, west of Calgary. I appreciated their ignorance of sleet falling and the cold winds.
The horse that ended up posing for me before padding away led the small herd up the hill towards me. During one of their pauses on the way up I took the opportunity to frame them as part of the larger scene of dawn on the prairie. As I said before, I wish I had brought some horse-friendly snacks.
(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.
Saturday was the last chance for competitors in the rodeo events to qualify for finals. A lot of fun watching these athletes (people and animals) perform. I’m heading down to the Stampede for the finals now but wanted to share some of the moments from the day of wildcards.
Sunday’s Finals should be the exclamation mark to end a great rodeo over the past 10 days. Good luck to all the competitors!
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.
I walked up to a small group of horses in West Bragg Creek this morning as the sun was slowly warming up their frigid meadow. They were lined up along the fence, likely waiting for their morning hay. This mare walked towards me and when she was close I noticed the ice frozen onto the whiskers around the mouth. It was -19°C so the moisture in her breath was freezing as soon as it was exhaled. The distortion in perspective of a wide angle lens created an interesting view of her head when I lowered the camera and put it very close to the nose.
I love to show movement in my photographs. One of my favourite techniques to achieve this is to pan with my subject as it moves in front of me. I like the effect of the blurred elements stretching and wrapping around a train, horse or any number of other things in motion. The actual shooting is great fun too and I enjoy interacting with the scene to create the image I have in mind.
Standing on a street corner, a forest’s edge or along the fence at a rodeo, I will slow my shutter speed down either by using a smaller aperture or lowering my camera’s ISO setting. With the camera ready, I then focus on the subject in motion and shoot it as goes. When the panning of the camera matches the speed of the train, animal or athlete, the subject will remain sharp while the static elements and those moving in another direction or at a different speed will blur.
It is this blurring that frames the subject and creates the sense of speed. I like to play with the shutter speed to adjust how much blur there is and to affect how sharp the subject is. An abstract quality can be found in some images where the details are soft allowing patterns and colors to step ahead of the subject in importance.
There are numerous techniques to improve the success rate of sharp subject’s in a motion blur image including keeping the camera parallel to the subject’s path, starting to shoot as the vehicle approaches and following through as it passes, locking arms, shoulders, knees and feet and pivoting at the hips and many more. I try to practice these and incorporate as many as possible when I am panning.
The results can be really interesting and create compelling images. The web is your friend for specific details on these and many other ways to pan effectively. It is worth mentioning that while the slower the longer the shutter speed, the harder it is to keep the subject sharp, the payoff can be more interesting blur and consequently a more dynamic image. I often set my shutter speed as low as 1/10 of a second, which can result in more misses (blurry, unusable pictures) but when everything comes together there is a chance for something magical.
If you have an interest, give it a try and see if you like the photographs you create. It can be a great way to see a common scene in a new way or to pass a few minutes waiting for the bus. I would love to see any results you would like to share.
I was down at the rodeo with my kids and my parents for a couple of hours yesterday. Here are a few from the events that I pulled off between runs to the fair ground and the snack tent. After a rainout the night before, Saturday was beautiful. A great small town rodeo – definitely part of what summer in Alberta is.
Sunday was the last day of the Calgary Stampede. The final event at the grandstand was the Rangeland Derby where the chuckwagon teams who had successfully vied for a place in the last heat ran for the $100,000 first place prize. The final four drivers were Kelly Sutherland, Reg Johnstone, Jerry Bremner and Kurt Bensmiller based on their record over the previous nine days of racing.
Kelly Sutherland is the king in the world of chucks. Last year he surpassed legendary driver Dick Cosgrave for most wins at the Calgary Stampede with 11. This year, he came out of the barrel turns clean and held on to the lead tightly all the way down the stretch.
Lined up for the race here is the calm but crowded start to the final.
(I’m still not sure if this slow shutter, zoomed focal length image works or not but thought I’d include it anyways).
Coming out of the barrel turns, Sutherland was tight on the rail and even with Reg Johnstone. He pulled away through over the open track and beat the Bashaw Flash (Johnstone) by just over a second.
Kelly Sutherland’s thumbs up is a trademark move and with the success he’s earned, the Stampede crowd has seen it many times. Here Kelly celebrates the win with the grandstand crowd.
And here are some more images from the Sunday evening heats that preceded the final.
Jason Glass guides his team around the barrel on his way to winning Heat 1.
Another of Jason Glass showing the intensity that has carried him to a very successful career – including 3 world champion chuckwagon titles .
The horses of Ray Mitsuing and Hugh Sinclair in a flurry of motion as these two lead wagons race free of the barrel turns and out onto the racetrack.
One of the outriders pulls his horse towards the starting line for the next race.
Devin Mitsuing rounds the one barrel during the demonstration race before the heats start. The announcer narrates the race to help spectators new to the sport understand the rules and some of the nuances of chuckwagon racing.
The last image in this post is of Troy Dorchester as he rides by the crowd during the cool down trot following the race.
This year’s showdown final was great fun and was a fitting way to close out the Stampede sporting events just ahead of the last Grandstand Show and the fireworks display. I am already looking forward to next year.