Whittlesea Rodeo

Bucking bronco leaps at the Whittlesea Rodeo. Whittlesea Showground, February 25, 2012.

© David Male

On Saturday 25th Feb, the Williamstown Camera Club had its first photo shoot outing for the year. It was not for the faint hearted, with temperatures approaching 40°C, an hours drive north, and a late start and finish. I was pleasantly encouraged by an attendance of 11 hardy souls. As always, the ‘bikey boys’ were there in strength.

On arrival, at Whittlesea, it became apparent that the dress of the day was cowboy boots, broad rimmed hats, a tinny in one hand and a fold-up chair in the other! The rodeo arena was surrounded by various entertainment stalls (including a mechanical ride-on bull) and health food outlets (hot dogs and VB). The one thing that was missing, was shade – if you had some to sell, you could have made a fortune!!

Well before show time, we photographers ‘reserved’ our favoured spots allowing for sun angles (including sunset in a few hours time), wind direction (dust and cow poo odour), location relative to the action, the first aid station, etc. We surrounded the place, so someone had to get some good shots! We discussed all the technical stuff — panning versus freezing, lens choice, low angles, shutter speeds, working the environment. I’m sure all of these things came into play at some stage during the day.

Well, once the action started, it was full on. The MC, straddling his horse with a microphone in one hand, the reigns in another and a well developed pot belly resting on the front of the saddle just to balance things up, kept the show rolling. We saw barrel rides, steer tossing, roping, bull rides, stallions, bare backs, saddle riding, and more.

There were junior events for competitors as young as 10 years old who performed far better than I would be game to try. The older riders were easily distinguished as they were the ones with the knee braces and who moved a bit more slowly. There were novices and national champions (cowboys and cowgirls), who really knew their way around the arena. The animals all looked well groomed and cared for.

There is a definite hierarchy in this rodeo world — you graduate from a being a junior (on the ponies), to novice competitor in the warm-up events, to ‘just plain crazy’ in the main events, to boundary rider if nothing serious is broken (these men and women are fabulous riders), to clown (whose job it is to distract an angry one-ton bull from stomping on the person who tried unsuccessfully to sit on its back for 8 seconds and was unceremoniously dumped from an enormous height onto their coccyx before the bull lands on the exact same spot about 1/500th second later — yes, I timed it with my camera! They do a gutsy, brilliant job these clowns!), to the MC who gets to reminisce about all the bones they have broken. He did a good job.

That’s one hell of a career path to aspire to! I think I will stick to photography as it keeps you on the right side of the fence.

And just to add a bit more anticipation to the day, those lovely beasts are given names like Black Adder and The Undertaker!

An unscheduled bright spot was the water cart — much to the delight of the crowd, it did a few laps of the arena at interval with its far reaching spray giving the patrons a good dousing. Whilst this helped to keep the people cool, it didn’t do the cameras much good at all. Especially the second time around — some of us were just slow learners.

Well, if the measure of success of the day is based upon the smiles on the faces of the photographers and the anticipation of reviewing the many hundreds of photos taken — it was a successful day out!

Below is a gallery of images taken on the day, we'll add more images as members send them in.

Click on any image above to see a larger view.

Upcoming

Presentation: Still Life – Robert Moyses

Robert Moyses, one of our members, has been hitting it out of the park when it comes to his Still Life work and he has graciously agreed to share his methodology with us in a presentation.

Walker Close Community Centre
12th July 2022 7:30 pm
Photo Shoot: Waterfalls – Malmsbury/Trentham

Actual locations and times to be confirmed

TBC
23rd July 2022 10:00 am

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