Whenever possible while we are out in Jackson, we like to take those in our workshop groups that want to go to the local rodeo. Everyone that goes always has a blast! Seeing a local rodeo in the heart of rodeo country? Heck Yeah!
The rodeo is a little bit tough to shoot. It takes place outdoors at night. They have lighting for the arena, but it doesn't work well enough for you to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze action. The rodeo begins at 8:00PM and sunset was right around 9:00PM ish while we were there. So for about an hour you could manage pretty well. Anything after that and you needed a fast lens, or a camera body capable of handling high ISOs well or both.
This is one of the many scenes you see before the rodeo begins. Just a couple of young cowboys hanging around. Probably talking about how they are going to do better than the rest of the competition.
This image was taken about 15 minutes prior to the start of the rodeo. If you look at the settings below you can see at F/8 and ISO 1600 I'm at 1/500th second. That's about as low as I'd like my shutter to capture action. I'm going to need to drop my F stop and bump my ISO as the night progresses.
Aperture Priority, 1/500th second, F/8, ISO 1600, 300mm
The bull riding event is always a crowd favorite and luckily this year they started the rodeo with that event. This meant the light wasn't horrible yet. I still raised my ISO up to ensure a fast shutter speed.
Aperture Priority, 1/1250th second, F/6.3, ISO 6400, 240mm
The below image is a saddle bronc rider. He's got a heck of a job holding on. Notice how the horse's hind legs are at a right angle to the rest of his body.
Aperture Priority, 1/2000th second, F/6.3, ISO 6400, 200mm
You can see in the image below that the rodeo doesn't always end well. This cowboy took a hard hit and got to see how dirt tastes. This image makes me glad I am a photographer and not a cowboy. I may have fallen before out shooting, but I don't recall a face plant in the dirt. ;)
Aperture Priority, 1/800th second, F/6.3, ISO 8000, 185mm
As you can tell from the settings for each of these images I had to shoot at higher ISOs. I ended up shooting this event with my Nikon D500 and Tamron 16-300mm Lens. That lens will only allow me to stop down to F/6.3 so I had to bump the ISOs to compensate for that. I was ok with that, though because I knew the D500 performed very well at high ISOs (I didn't run any noise reduction on any of these images at all) and I was also ok with that because it allowed me a very portable setup to take into the rodeo with me.
This is a rare instance where I wasn't using a tripod or monopod. During the summer months the rodeo is packed and there is very limited space, so you would end up moving out of people's way more than shooting. I shot my Nikon/Tamron combo handheld and it worked out perfectly for this event.