Monday, November 21, 2005

At the Gay Rodeo, Part III: Competition

Steer Riding

Jove asked how I wound up getting interested in rodeo. The short form is that my father is from (and I was born in) a part of the country that is heavily tinged with hilbilly. We lived all over the United States, moving around with the Air Force, but country/western music came along with us wherever we went. Then came college and a long residence in Boston, during which time I was determined to purify myself of everything rustic and blue collar. It didn't work. After two years of living in Chicago, I started two-stepping at Charlie's bar. And then I made friends with my buddy John, a resident of Dallas, who lured me down to Fort Worth for my first gay rodeo.

Which is why I have now spent many hours of my life photographing gay men and lesbians putting underwear on goats. (Keep reading. You'll see.)

Shooting the competitive events in progress is the toughest part of a rodeo for me, and also the most exciting. Some of the challenge comes from shooting with a camera that has limits capturing fast action in low light. Although for fans and competitors it may seem that all is bright, my faithful little Canon can struggle to keep up.

Grand Entry: Trooping the Colors

Sometimes I like to use this situation to advantage, as in the picture above. The arena crew, standing still, is sharp. The flag rider, galloping past, is blurred. To me, the contrast makes for a more interesting shot than one in which everybody appears to be still.

I've learned to "pan" my camera along with (for example) moving horses and bulls in order to get the shots I need. This isn't foolproof (one can't always swing the camera at precisely the speed the horse is moving, while keeping it in the frame), but when I works the result is gratifyingly kinetic.

(Note: I notice with annoyance that both Blogger and Flickr [my two means of adding images] have a "helpful" image compression built in that squeezes the detail right out of these photos, which I've already compressed to my own satisfaction. Ah, well. It probably only makes difference to me. But I swear they're not so blurry as they appear.)

Barrel Racing

Barrel Racing

Barrel Racing

Flag Racing

Flag Racing

Flag Racing

Breakaway Roping

Breakaway Roping

Breakaway Roping

Team Roping

Steer Decorating

Bareback Bronc Riding

Loading a rider, Women's Bareback Bronc Riding

Very Short Ride, Bareback Bronc Riding

Prep for the Wild Drag Race

Wild Drag Race

Wild Drag Race

Wild Drag Race

Wild Drag Race

Goat Dressing

Goat Dressing

Goat Dressing

Loading the chute, steer riding

Steer Riding

Steer Riding

Bull Riding

If you'd like more information on what in tarnation is going on in these pictures, you can get the whole scoop from the International Gay Rodeo Association Web site.


ann said...

Wonderful action shots! Right now I'm working with shots from dog shows (long story involving quilting and photographs), and let me tell you - you could make a small fortune at agility trials shooting action shots. High speed low light environment to the hilt.

Ann said... someone who struggled to take action photos of her daughters at basketball games I can only marvel at the quality of these photos...

The Stockyards at Fort Worth--one of my favorite places on this entire earth--so I know that feeling of just connecting with Fort Worth.

Your pictures take me back to that place that I love. My last visit to Ft. Worth just a month ago to the Cowboy Poets festival--I hope to attend one of the big Ft. Worth rodeos one day.

Thank you so much for sharing your talents with us.

Sister Sue said...

Wow! Wonderful shots again...I think my favorites are the riding shots, be folks be riding horses or steer. I especially love the steer riding shot with the hat going one way and the steer's head going the other, with the rider's arm straight out. Fabulous. These are great. We'll see the finer quality when they find their way onto your website, eh? As it is, we get the picture (tee hee!). Keep it up! Yahoo! Or should I say, "Yee-ha!"

JoVE said...

Very nice action shots. An acquaintance from Alberta said that she competed in a 'mutton busting' event when she was a kid. Apparently the under 6 crowd get try riding a sheep. Beautiful action shots.

Carol said...

No need to apologize - your photos are superfantastic. Just prepare yourself for a phone call from PETA: putting underwear on a goat clearly constitutes animal abuse. Especially if it's an underwire. Or a thong.

Sneaksleep said...

One word: Awesome!!!

JRosa said...

Love your photos. Maybe I'll get a job so I can afford to buy one or two. They are so beatiful; plus, bull riding sure beats bull fighting any day.

Kathy Merrick said...

Franklin, my friend, gorgeous photos. 'splain me, though, "steer decorating"?
Is that just what it sounds like?

Christopher said...

I knew you had to go to "Charlies"! I was there nine years ago. My exboyfriend, Ford, was a bartender there.
Didn't cowboys in the old west put underwear on goats?

Helen said...

That third Flag racing shot is stunning! And the second breakaway roping shot is also brilliant.
Kudos to you! In a set of really good rodeo shots, these two stand out.
(insert long winded blathering about how impressed I am here).
Brings back lots of rodeo watching memories. Why was it I married such a city-boy?

Enjay said...

Beautiful Photography, than you! I've competed, but never really paid attention to photographs of rodeos before. The intense concentration of both the animals and the people, magnificent. Also, having performed many of those movements many times, seeing the riders frozen for that second, perched percariously, shifting, throwing themselves into stride with the animal, it really reminds me just how much of a ballet it truely is. A private ballet, invisible except to the participants, until Franklin comes along with his cannon and briefly captures the dance.
Oh, and Franklin? You're contagious! I have a fellow student who has taken into her head that I need to knit her a pair of underwear...yeesh!

Enjay said...

Yeesh is right, I've counted three typos in my previous post so far. My apologies.

Rabbitch said...

I just sat with a huge grin on my face while looking at these pictures. Why? I have no idea. My closest contact with any rodeo has been dressing cats (just as dangerous as dressing goats -- don't believe me? Try to put a bonnet and booties on a cat named Cuddles) and trail riding a 12-year-old very very tired horse named King.

Lovely pictures. They brought me joy; thank you.

dan said...

These are really beautiful photographs. Was Mark Weigle there by any chance? He's a lovely gay singer songwriter that does the gay rodeo circuit. Totall sweetheart and lovely singer.
White Crane is doing an issue on Gay Cowboy Love for our Spring issue. Perhaps we could entice you to submit some of your photographs? They'd be fab.

Sahara said...

Wow! Your shots put me right there, Franklin, thank you.

I feel for the steer riders. That s**t is no joke. Especially when you are now held together with pins.

I know they all MUST have hot tubes at home.

birdfarm said...

Glad you have finally embraced all of your different roots. (Some roots you're born with, some you choose to graft onto, it's all good). Maybe that's one reason why you seem more comfortable in your own skin than you did fifteen years ago. The fact that you're fifteen years older also has something to do with it, I'm sure, but I used to feel bad for you, seeming so eager to get away from parts of yourself.

Hope that's not too much revelation in this public space... I love you Franklin!


(my word verification word is fllzy... do you think blogger is calling me a floozy???)

Tallguy said...

Excellent shots! After all these years living right in the middle of Stampede Country ( ,, I've never been to the gay rodeo! Well, maybe next year ---

Jenn said...

Fantastic shots. I can't believe you got those without a motor drive. Beautiful!

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