Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic

Rodeo Drive

I'll put my GPS to the test tomorrow, see if correctly points me at the Best Buck in the Bay Rodeo in La Honda. Thanks to bovil and kproche for posting about it. It'll give me a chance to torture test the new Nikon D-80 with the VR (vibration reduction) lens and I'll also bring along the HD camcorder, though I think I'm only good for an hour's battery life on that. Hopefully the guys will get me a good place to shoot from, but regardless it should be a fun event.

My first job out of college was "desk editor" of The Daily Astorian, in Astoria, OR. One of my duties was to back up the photographer. A Big Event™ each year was the Gearhart Rodeo. Gearhart is a little town on the coast a few miles south of Astoria, population 1,000. About 3 times that many showed up for the rodeo. MZig, our intrepid photographer, was happy to have me volunteer for the assignment. As much as he loves horses and rodeo princesses, he went catatonic at the thought of all that dust and sand getting into his precious Nikons. I had an el cheapo Olympus, easily sacrificed.

It was a 1-day event, and lots of fun. They put me into the arena, with nothing between me and the cows and cowboys and cowgirls and horses and bulls. So, we're in the middle of the bull riding event when I need to change film. I pull a roll out of my shirt pocket, and a couple of my business cards go flying over my shoulder. After reloading the camera, I turn around and bend down to pick up the cards. I hear people on the other side of the fence shouting. I look up. They are looking at me, and pointing behind me. I look behind me, and there is a bull rider on the ground, frantic clowns flailing their hands, and a bull taking aim at my posterior, charging towards me. Two of the wranglers help pull me up and over to their side of the fence, and the bull trots away, back to the pens. I hopped back over the fence and finished taking pictures. It wasn't quite a brush with death, but I'm sure for the audience it was comic relief.

One of my bronco shots won an local AP award - I should scan it in, if I can find it.

My next job was in Omak, WA as news editor of the county weekly. I got there too late to cover the rodeo, The Omak Stampede, but made it for the Okanogan County Fair Rodeo. I don't remember being an official photog there - I think their female Ansel Adams, Elizabeth Widel, who was also the most incredible linotype setter I have ever seen, did the official photos. Or maybe it was editor-in-chief John Andrist, who was a great all-around newspaperman. But I digress.

I haven't been to a rodeo since then - that was 1974, though I did go to a few bull fights in Thailand - the bulls fight each other. Don't tell Michael Vick, it might give him ideas.

I've had some opportunities in Colorado and locally, but those were indoor arena events, not my idea of a good time - too dark for this kind of photography.

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