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Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
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Tips for Shooting a Rodeo


I'm shooting a rodeo for the first time, and would welcome any photo shooting tips. It starts at 8 p.m., so some shots will be in daylight, while others, I think, under arena lights. I called and there are no photo passes and no photo guidelines. They just said stay in safe areas. Any photo tips are more than welcome. Thanks in advance.


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8/12/2008 6:16:39 AM

 
W.    To freeze fast moving subjects like in a rodeo you need a high shutter speed: 1/250th and faster. That will require a high ISO setting: ISO 800 or higher. So expect noise, which can be mitigated in PP with the appropriate software.
Under arena lights (mind the White Balance and shoot Raw), it gets a lot trickier still. Depending on those arena lights of course. Shoot lots of frames so you have plenty to choose from later.
If you use a telephoto lens anything over 150mm you will need extra support. Like a tripod or beanbag to minimize camera shake. 'VR', or 'VC', or 'AS' systems for vibration reduction are not enough. Have fun!


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8/12/2008 7:07:24 AM

 
Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  Get there early, and stake out a good vantage point. Try avoiding shooting from the stands ... anyone with a point-and-shoot will get those angles. Be conscious of the background, and hopefully not have things like parked cars in your photos.


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8/13/2008 8:05:32 AM

 

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  Wear a big cowboy hat to shade your lens and tell em big John sent yah.


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8/13/2008 10:37:17 AM

 
Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
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  That's funny, John.

Thanks all for your input. I'm looking forward to this.


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8/13/2008 11:29:04 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Howdy Mary Beth ! Here's a couple of extra thoughts since you've already gotten some good advice here.
As for vantage points, stake out a few of them. At that hour, the sun will be pretty low on the horizon and you don't want to position yourself where you'd be shooting directly into it. That also depends on weather and cloud cover, if any. Be aware of your surroundings and potential problems like getting slammed by a paddock gate.
Camera support can also be a monopod, which is handy because it would easily allow you to pan or track what you're shooting. Panning and exposures at, say, 125th or even higher, will allow you to freeze the action you're shooting AND blur out the background, like cars in the parking lot or people who've had too many beers falling out of the stands.
Anticipate the action and the height of the movement. For example, ideally, you want to trip the shutter just an instant before the rider gets tossed while they're in mid-air. Rodeo clowns are great subjects.
And if you can get back to the changing rooms (for the participants not the livestock), see if you can get some shots of people preparing to go out into the arena. Detail shots are nice, as are wider angle views, including any shots of the rodeo queen (or kings) putting on their costumes or make-up. Get a can of compressed air, like Dustoff and after the event, use it to blow the dust off the gear you used. You can also use it to clean the dust off your lens during, although it's not necessary to keep cleaning while you're working. A lens shade is essentially all you need. No UV filters, no polarizers, etc. Just a lens shade will do you fine.
Lastly, don't wear bright red and that ain't no bull. But to stop a charging bull, just take away their Amex card.
Have fun !
M.


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8/13/2008 7:00:00 PM

 

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  Hey Mark, what if the bull's using a platinum Visa?


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8/14/2008 10:16:40 AM

 
Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
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  Thanks all for your tremendous advice. The rodeo is tonight, and I'm ready. Thanks again.


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8/14/2008 12:09:29 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Have a great time MB !! And our pleasure, I'm sure. ;>)
Mark


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8/14/2008 12:15:10 PM

 
Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
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  Thanks, Mark.


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8/14/2008 12:24:01 PM

 
Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
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Thought I'd post some photos from the rodeo. It was 2 hours away, so I couldn't go back to reshoot, but this was certainly a learning experience. A good learning experience.

The lighting was very low, so I had to push ISO to 1000 most of the time. I shot in RAW so I could compensate, but there's still a lot of noise.

Anyhow, I had a wonderful time, and frankly, learned a lot. If anyone wants to comment or critique these photos, please feel free. I welcome any comments.

Thanks again.


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8/17/2008 11:10:12 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Yee Ha and YA HOO !!! Nice work. Great job MB.
Mark


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8/17/2008 12:21:13 PM

 
W.   
Very nice set, Mary Beth. At this size the noise isn't too obvious.


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8/17/2008 2:50:33 PM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
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  Nice job Mary Beth.


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8/17/2008 2:53:47 PM

 
Dennis C. Hirning
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I see that you have already been to the rodeo so my suggestions might be for next time.

I like to get high in the stands so I am shooting over the fence with a telephoto and getting rid of the background clutter. Cropping will also help with this.

Shooting under lights is a problem since you really don't have much light to work with. I was at an indoor rodeo last week and only got a couple shots that were worth a second look. The fastest lens that I had with me was F4 and even at ISO 3200 about the fastest that I could get was around 1/100th of a second.

In last week's rodeo I wish I had thought of working with low light and doing more panning as it seemed to really show the action of a rodeo.

I have added some samples of both the indoor rodeo and an outdoor one to my gallery.

Dennis


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8/19/2008 8:37:32 AM

 
Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Faster f/2.8 glass is almost a must for the lowlight/fast moving events...sometimes I switch from RAW to JPEG to bust out a few extra sequence shots.
Next rodeo if you dress as a clown they'll let you sit in one of the barrels and you can get really close to the action I bet. wear red and it'll be amazing action for sure!!!
I have very few friends that listen to my suggestions....but some GREAT photos of them when they did.lol


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8/19/2008 9:39:21 AM

 
Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
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  As I was leaving, I remembered my 85mm lens and could have kicked myself for not using it. A lesson learned for next time.


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8/19/2008 11:08:57 AM

 
Shawn M. Marymee
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/23/2006
  Mary beth,
Here are some ideas for next time. I compete in the Barrel racing event in pro rodeos my self so I have seen tons of rodeo photo's. For the barrel race you would idealy be down on the arena floor or at least next the the fence by the Second barrel. (If you look at the pattern from the front it will be on the left side of the arena) You want to be in front and back towards the timer line. Try to catch the horses front legs reaching out infront of him as he turns the back side of the barrel. You will want your camera to be about level with the top of the barrel or lower. Try looking up any work by Kenneth Springer for expamples. He does the photo's for the National Finals Rodeo.
Good Luck.


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8/20/2008 1:33:35 PM

 
Mary Beth Aiello
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/19/2006
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  Thanks very much for the tip, Shawn. And good luck in future competitions.


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8/20/2008 2:46:58 PM

 
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