It never fails. Just when I think that we have all the bugs worked out for the performance of the rodeo something inevitably goes wrong. And it almost always has something to do with the Internet connection at the Coliseum. The rodeo is a big deal in this town so we always want to give it our best when the season starts. Not that we don't give it our best on every assignment, but the stock show and rodeo is super special. So I get to the Coliseum early to check my Internet connection, like I always do, and it turns out to be just fine, like it always does. Great, now I can concentrate on the task at hand, shooting the rodeo.
The first performance of the rodeo is a crap shoot, meaning you never know what the opening ceremony is going to be like. There could be pyrotechnics, living re-enactments or an introduction of rodeo animals. It changes from year to year and will take two or three performances to get the flow of the show. This year's show opener is pretty simple, though the pyrotechnics are cool.
My deadline for the first run of the paper each day is 8:20 pm. That's almost unheard of in the industry. That deadline is super early and it's only that early because our paper is printed in Abilene, 90 miles away. With such an early deadline, I can only shoot the first three events, the bull riding, steer wrestling and bareback riding, of the rodeo before I have to start editing and sending photos back to the office. Every year is the same, I edit and start to send photos and the connection craps out on me. I try it again thinking I must have done something wrong. No go. This year, as a back up, I have a nifty little puck-looking thing that acts as a mobile wifi hotspot with me so I don't get into these kind of jams. I turn it on, but to no avail. It's closing in on 9:00 pm and I still have not sent anything back to the office. I give up and drive back to the office, missing the second half of the rodeo performance.
Normally, we would use the strobes we have set up in the Coliseum to shoot the rodeo, but because we have the fancy Canon DSLRs, EOS 1D Mark IV, I can crank up the ISO and shoot just about anything I want and get away with it. The first competition, bull riding, was a let down. No one was able to hang on for the full eight seconds. Steer wrestling is always fun and the fastest time of the night was 3.7 seconds. Bareback riding, to me, just looks like hell on four hooves. If I were to choose a rodeo competition, bareback riding would be the last one I'd go for. Talk about a migraine. After I came to the realization that I was not going to be able to transmit photos back the office, I ran out to my car and headed back to the office. I was surprised how similar my experience was from last year. But I made it back to the office, submitted my photos and all is well. Hopefully covering the rodeo performance won't be as hectic tomorrow.