Stepping out of your comfort zone is a great thing.
This past weekend, I had an opportunity to do just that. I have some clients (turned friends) who are pretty involved in the world of roping. I'm a life-long horse lover and owner, but outside of a few rodeos, I've never been exposed to this discipline. Most of my work has an equine fine art/portraiture theme, and it seems that I'm usually so busy doing that kind of work that I rarely have the opportunity to get out and push myself into exploring other avenues. So, when my friends contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in shooting their upcoming clinic, I thought at the least it would be a fantastic opportunity to explore a different type of shooting than what I normally do (I'm also pretty sure that there was the promise of newborn foals on the property that may or may not have been used as photographer bait...)
There were 14 participants in the clinic to work with Blair Burk, a 14 time NFR qualifier, who came all the way to Michigan from Oklahoma. I caught some of their practice outside, and then they moved to the indoor arena for some hands-on work. Shooting fast action shots in an indoor arena can be quite a challenge, as the lighting is notoriously less-than-ideal, but after a few test shots I found a happy place that my camera, lens, and the available light could play well together with. Knowing next to nothing about roping, I paid attention to what seemed to be the highlights of each run, got familiar with the lighting, and then saw where the magic in that arena was happening at. We had some daylight streaming in from the perimeter of the arena, which gave us some backlight in virtually every direction, and then some overhead tungsten spotlights which put off very selective pools of yellow light. All of that light, combined with the dust being stirred up by horses, people, and calves - made for what I think are some fantastic shots of the clinic participants doing what they love.
I had arrived thinking I'd shoot for an hour or two, but wound up staying until well into the evening. I was having so much fun experimenting and working in my zone that time literally slipped away from me (always a good thing when work doesn't seem like work and the time flies by!). I've spent the past three days working 16 hour days to sort through all of those images, pick the best of them, and edit them in my post-production process to get them prepped for viewing. You can see the entire gallery of images HERE.
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