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.
I had a full day along the rails down at the Stampede yesterday. Here are a few photographs I liked from the quick scan of the wagon load I took yesterday.
The rodeo is a great event and I’m amazed by the performances of both the athletes and the animals. Huge helpings of strength, balance and sheer will on both sides. And, a lot of fun to watch.
I’m just heading down for today’s rodeo, can’t wait to get back down there.
There is a small herd of wild horses that occasionally spend a couple of days along Highway 22 near Bragg Creek. This past week they stayed in one of the meadows with most of the group fawning over a very young foal. It was great to see them in the field and I was glad they didn’t disappear into the forest when I stopped to watch them.
Wild horses are a contentious issue for some here in Alberta. There are arguments over whether they are actually wild or are feral and what protections should be extended as a result. These horses stay on Tsuu T’ina first nation land and I hope they continue to be safe to roam the territory they have staked out.
I was out at the Folk Tree Lodge yesterday and had time to wander around the farm buildings and visit the horses. It was a beautiful afternoon, a warm day after a long spell of cold weather. I was photographing with a Lensbaby Muse which is tricky to focus at the wide open aperture but is really fun for the slices of focus and blur you can work with in camera. I really enjoy using this lens in strong midday light when I might otherwise be tempted to put away the camera and wait for softer, directional light.
Alvise and Paola were making use of the day and working around the farm. Alvise was up and down the road hauling with his machinery. The colors of the hard hat and the tractor drew my attention and made good subject matter for a few photographs before I ended up talking to the horses. They were not as inquisitive as a few weeks ago but still fun to work with.
My wife and I were out at the Folk Tree Lodge near Bragg Creek, Alberta to give the kids a night with the grandparents. We spent New Year’s Eve there with a great group at the invitation of Paola and Alvise so it was great to spend another night there – such a great retreat.
In the morning I had plans to wander the trails around the ranch and find a good spot to photograph the sunrise. I threw those out once I came up to the fence for the horse paddock. Paola and Alvise have a small herd of horses they take care of. In the pre-dawn I could make them out on the far side of the large field so I decided they would be the subject of the morning’s shoot. All the horses had to do was cooperate. Horses can be wary but their curiosity will usually takeover if you can remain still and just wait for them. It took a while but once two horses approached the rail and, after a good pat, went back to the herd, then the rest of the horses relaxed and followed me around as I worked with the increasing light and rising sun out of the east. I really enjoyed talking to them and playing with them as I was photographing.
In the processing of the images, I worked on a few different approaches. I will give the summary of what work I did in post for the applicable images in case you are interested.
Shooting towards the sun washed this photo out a little bit so I brought it back by increasing the contrast and black level in Lightroom.
This mare was easily the most curious in the group, followed closely by the black horse. Both enjoyed the attention and the scratches on the cheek and behind the ears.
The curious horse playing shy among the trees on her way over to the fence.
Brightened slightly in Lightroom and then I increased the saturation in the coats and trees while cooling the white balance in the snow. I spent about one minute on this image which is more than usual but I like the result.
This was the first horse to approach once the herd had moved across the field, into the trees and close to me on the fence. The sun was still a while away from rising so the deep colours in the coats was not there yet so I preferred this image in black and white. I converted it using the split tone functionality in Lightroom’s develop module. I like to use a a pale gold color for the highlights and a blue gray for the shadows. I increased the exposure to accomplish two goals: bring out the details in the foreground horse’s face and to lend an abstract, graphic feel to the other horses.
I desaturated this image in Lightroom and then used Topaz Adjust to bring out detail and to do targeted exposure adjustment. The sun backlit the horses and I loved the way it highlighted their coats. I used the adjustments to brighten the faces and bring out the detail.
Great subjects and fun to work with these images a little bit on the computer. Thank you to Alvise and Paolo for enabling a night (and morning) in their wonderland.
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 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.