Cutting Horse Show
I opened the car door to the rhythmic but muffled sounds of loping hooves, the smell of horses and cattle with a twinge of leather hung in the air with the fine dust and the sense of contentment settled over me. I was anxious because I didn't know what to expect and I really wanted to do a good job. Tenatively making my way towards the center of the arena, spotting Frank, the only face I knew and that was because I looked him up on Facebook. Mustering confidence I didn't feel, I strode up stuck out my hand, offered a card and a handshake. Casually and in no huge hurry I was directed to a place for my table.
Unloading and hauling my gear I had trouble concentrating on setting up because I was literally surrounded by gorgeous horses and that pervailing sense of contentment for me. I just wanted to go lean on a fence and talk or swing into a saddle and join the circling riders warming up.
Then I was eager to get out my camera so I rushed to set up quickly and figure out some workflow process. I wanted to be professional, though inside I was a mess of nerves and strain. With no one to turn to for instructions, just winging it like the newbies I was. Struggling to import files correctly as everything the announcer was saying was so strange and new. Along the way figuring how to separate out the classes in the future so everyone isn't all lumped in together.
Finally I grabbed my "baby" and settled that familiar weight of a camera around my shoulders, now here was something I knew how to use and I was eager to use my skills so lets go!!!
Not so quick. First the National Anthem, "Ohhh say can you see..."
Followed by prayer for the riders. I do believe these are my people.
I knew the action would be fast so I meticulously went over my settings and swung up my big lens for some test shots. Ugggh color and lighting is different all over the arena. Scramble down to the camera bag for an Expodisc and voila, fixed.
Soon though, I realized my aperture was to high and and the noise in my photos was unbearable. I knew I couldn't achieve the sharpness with this lens set up. Quickly diving back into the camera bag, switching out gear I scrambled back into position. Now this is better. But wait, I am getting motion blur. Into camera setting to bump up limits and conquer that.
RRRR, tracking this lightning fast action is hard to hit correctly. Ahhh wait there is a setting for focusing on erratic subjects... now go find it buried deep in the menus. Ohh and one more thing lets tweak that exposure setting so it can account for the hugely different lighting all over the arena... Ahh there we are and YES!!! Now this looks much better and this is what we came here to shoot!!!
It took me most of the day on my knees propped on the railing straining with concentration. But out of the blue Vicki the announcer said "And that is the last contestant and this concludes this horse show." Suddenly my stomach felt like my throat had been cut and I was starved to death.
I know as a professional I am supposed to act like I have it all together and be confident but I was anything but. Vicki gave me tips through out the day for shots riders would want and Frank was so patient in going over how cutting events are scored. Everyone smiled and was incredibly kind when I swung the camera their way.
I managed to capture some really good shots and some people kindly purchased so some of the expenses were offset. I learned soooo much on my first day at the horse show. What I learned most was this was fun!!! And I love watching highly trained horses and expert riders do something that harkens back into another place in time and I felt at home. Happier than a pig in mud.
I have been pretty transparent because I desperately want to do this some more. At the same time I know that I need to make sure I get the killer pictures that take people's breath away. Capturing those critical moments when the countless hours of training pay off and that crouching horse is locked in eye to eye with that cow in that moment of victory. But I also need to make it worthwhile as a professional because I might be addicted...
Keywords: TN, Canon, cutting, Cutting Horse, GeneNJen, horse, Horse Show, James E Ward Event Center, Kismet, Kismet Photography, Lebanon, photographer, photography, ranch, show, Tennessee, western, Wilson County Fairgrounds
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