Damn it was nice to be back in the dirt again. It’s not the National Finals, but it’ll do. In fact, it’ll do quite nicely, thank you. To spend three days shooting rodeo without limits on where I could go, or on what I could try? It was the perfect way to spend a December weekend.
Readers of the blog may recall that for over a dozen years, rodeo was a staple of my pre-Christmas photo diet, with Sports Illustrated sending me out to Las Vegas to cover the National Finals on a regular basis*. Well, times (and more important, assignment budgets) change, and for the past two years there’d been a little void in my December–in the schedule, to be sure, but more to the point, in the experience of not having the sights, sound, and of course, the smells, of the rodeo arena on my calendar and in my head.
Enter my savior, ESPN: The Magazine, which dispatched me to New Caney, Texas to spend three days shooting bull riders, bronc riders, and bull fighters in training at a school run by NFR Bull Riding Champion Lyle Sankey. Their gallery of images can be found here; my edit is what appears above.
Some favorites below, in non-slideshow form…
For the technically inquisitive:
All photos: Canon 1DX and 5DMII, various lenses. Action shots inside the arena with a 1DX and either a 70-200m f2.8L or a 400mm f2.8L-II. Portraits: Canon 1DX, EF 85mm f1.2L. Profoto Acute 2400 packs/heads; 74″ Elinchrom Octabank, 20″ beauty dish with grid on white seamless. Not very complicated.
* I even went so far as to win the 2001 Rodeo Photographer of the Year award from the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, if you’ll pardon the not-so-humble brag. One of these days I’m even going to wear that belt buckle…