Right Time, Right Place

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

Anticipating a moment is one of the most important things a photojournalist can do. Straying away from a crowd or choosing a different place to shoot from can make all the difference.

The photo above speaks volumes about the sport of rodeo. But it was a chance. The arena at the Evergreen Rodeo and Fair grounds is old and the positions to shoot from are few and far between. This photo was made from directly in front of the chutes in the stands at the 2008 rodeo. The photo position where many of the other photographers were shooting from is to the far left and, throughout most of the afternoon, looks directly into the setting sun. I chose to show up early, scout for other positions and take my chances by sitting directly across from the action.

It is a fairly simple idea when shooting most sports: get as close as you can, set up directly in front of the action and wait for it to come at you. And boy did it come at me. Seeing riders bucked from horses is a common thing at the rodeo. Seeing a horse roll over on top of the rider is not.

The sun was setting and I had been in the same position for almost 2 hours. I had to keep boosting my ISO to maintain a shutter speed that would stop action. By the time this happened I was almost ready to pack it in. Being that this was the second rodeo that I had covered in my short career I decided to stick it out until the end. I’m glad I did, because I came away with an award winning photo that I will be lucky to have the opportunity to make again.

This years rodeo came and went. It rained most of the weekend but went off without a hitch. No contest winning pictures were made this year. But I still had a great time.

Here is the entire sequence from my take. The larger horizontal photo is the EMS looking after the rider who suffered a broken collar bone.

Shot with a Canon EOS 1D Mark II N with a 300mm f2.8 lens at ISO1600, f2.8, 1/1250th.

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