The first few of the bull riders at Rowell Ranch Rodeo seemed to do pretty well and make it for the full duration. It turns out that this was an aberration and the remainder of the riders seemed to have a lot of problems. Some still went the distance but a lot of them were thrown off. Getting thrown from a bull is a risky proposition.
Let’s put aside the problem with falling at speed from an animal. Instead, contemplate being on the ground and a little disoriented when you need to get out of the way of a seriously pissed off bull that weighs a lot! This is where the other people come in to play. Their role is to distract the attention of the bull away from the rider while someone helps him get to his feet. It is something that looks perilous and, I imagine, it is.
My visit to the Rowell Ranch Rodeo was the night of the bull riding. I had never seen this in person before and was curious to see how things went. It was an evening show and the clouds had rolled in so it was pretty dark, even early in the evening. They had floodlights but they were not doing too much for me so I was really testing the high ISO capabilities of the camera for the first time. I was often shooting at 51,200. I have to say that, while the shots are not super clean, they are not too bad at all.
The most dramatic moments seemed to be shortly after they came out of the chute. The bulls leap into the air and the rider hangs on like crazy. It seemed that, if they made it through the initial period, they often went the full time. If they were unsettled initially, they were struggling from then on. More to come of that…
Once a year, a rodeo is held a short distance from our house. I have never been to a rodeo before. Anyone who knows me would not think of me as a western kind of guy. Despite all of that, I was quite interested to see what it was like. I had missed the previous two events so thought I should make the effort this time. It was on over a Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday. I went on the Friday because it was less disruptive to the weekend and it included bull riding which I thought would be dramatic to see.
I got there a little early to have a look around. It turns out that I left more time than needed to check everything out so I found a seat in the bleachers to wait for things to start. I got a visit from the management since I obviously looked a little out of place. They guy asked me a few questions but I think he was struggling with my accent and gradually got bored. I thought it was rather empty but, just as the riding started, tons of people showed up and it was pretty full.
More posts will follow with some of the action shots.
The Super Bowl was taking place in Santa Clara and I guess Goodyear had some sort of sponsorship activities underway. Consequently, one of their blimps came to the Bay Area. It was based out at Livermore. I didn’t get a chance to see it on the ground although Nancy drove past it a few times. However, it did fly over us on a few occasions so I stepped outside to get some pictures. These were taken with Nancy’s new camera. It is a Nikon P900 and it seems to do a pretty impressive job. It has a very long zoom range and good stabilization. So far I am impressed.
I’m not sure what it is about the weather in the Bay Area but we do seem to get a good selection of sunsets in our town. The clouds at high level get lit from beneath frequently and the famous bad weather of the area does not seem to obstruct the sun as much as you would think. I was in the office at home doing a few things when I glanced out of the window and saw the sky producing all sorts of patterns. I grabbed a few quick shots because the camera was on the desk. Just as well it was because a few minutes later everything was done. If I had needed to go downstairs to get the camera, I would have missed the whole thing.
Ten years living in the heart of Chicago meant that St Patrick’s Day was treated with a certain level of trepidation. Yes, the dying of the river green was fun and there was a parade. (It was a huge parade that went on forever and could be held in some bitterly cold weather that made you wonder whether you really wanted to know what you still hadn’t seen.) However, the city got taken over by people getting hammered from breakfast to early the next morning so it wasn’t always the best place to be! You can see some of my previous writings on the day here if you wish.
Now we are in California, we live in Dublin! Okay, it isn’t that Dublin and it might not have much real connection with Ireland but it has embraced the name and made St Patrick’s Day a big event. There is a parade the then a fairground and stalls are set up in the area around the public library and the sports fields. I figured I should stroll along to see how the parade went.
While it might not be on the same scale as the Chicago parade, it was still a pretty sizable affair. Plenty of people seemed to be out lining the streets to watch it go through. The participants were a mix of groups. The various local schools had their marching bands, the emergency services participated, local groups would show off their specializations and you had some of the light-hearted elements thrown in for good measure like the Shriners in their little cars. A few horses and dogs were thrown in for good measure.
Bringing up the rear was a vintage bus and a modern bus from Wheels, the local transit agency. I was standing next to a woman who obviously worked for them but showed up after things had started and was worried she had missed them. She needn’t have worried. The weather was great – another difference from Chicago – so everyone in the parade as well as those watching seemed to be having a good time. A variety of groups were throwing goodies out to the crowd but I was on the wrong side of the road to get anything they threw. Just as well really because, while I am enthusiastic for the freebies when they are throwing them around, I always find myself wondering why I wanted the stuff shortly afterwards. However, I did get some free Pocky samples and I didn’t mind eating them at all!
Our local high school has a strong sports setup and Nancy and I had been to see a football game last year. I blogged about that here if you want to check back. I was recently discussing this with a couple whose son goes to the school and plays football and soccer. The soccer season is underway at the moment and the last game of the regular season was imminent. I decided I would head along and have a go at shooting the game.
It was played on the same field as the football so we had the same lighting to deal with. While the lights are good, they are not great for photography. I had both cameras ramped well up on the ISO settings. This worked okay in most situations although the noise is still a bit noticeable. More modern bodies seem to have very impressive noise characteristics but my gear seemed to do okay. I hadn’t shot soccer before so it was interesting working out who to follow and what shots to go for.
Some of the shots I envisaged did not look good at all in reality. There are certain aspects of kicking and throwing a ball that look good in motion but make for rather odd poses when stills. A good lesson to learn I guess. Meanwhile, I did manage to get some more action packed elements sometimes. Keeping the ball in shot and showing what is going on was fun to try. It was also fun to see shots that show something you don’t normally notice. The expressions on faces during the game are quite funny and sometimes it looks like the game was far more violent than was the case.
I put together a compilation of some shots for the families to take a look at. They have had some basic editing but not more. If you want to take a look at those, there are at http://robedgcumbe.com/client/gaels/soccer/ so have a peak.
The team are now into the playoffs so hopefully they will have a good run!
We have had the MetLife blimp flying around our area a lot recently. I don’t know what brought it to us. It may have been tied to some sports events or perhaps it is just a campaign for brand awareness. The blimp has been based out of Livermore Airport near us. Nancy had seen it at night over there lit up when she drove past.
Then we had it flying one evening. I had seen it previously just before sunset but I wasn’t ready to get a shot and by the time I was, it had gone. Shame because the light was great. Then it showed up at night. It was pretty dark so I had to really take the ISO up. My camera has pretty good high ISO capability but nothing like the current generation of bodies. However, it did a reasonable job.
Next time I came across the blimp I was up at Sonoma. I heard an odd noise and thought it might be a helicopter. However, Skypark does not allow rotorcraft. Instead it was the blimp shooting a low approach. They weren’t on the banned list so I guess it was okay! The climb out was quite dramatic!
For someone who grew up in the UK, school sports take on a very different feel in the US. If you played on the high school team for anything where I grew up, the most you could expect of an audience would be a couple of parents and some girlfriends of the players. The US approach is very different with grandstands, floodlights, loads of spectators (both students and families) with bands and cheerleaders. Quite an event. There is catering and you pay to get in. (In the UK, you would have to pay some people to go and even then they probably wouldn’t!)
We decided to check out the local high school in Dublin to see what one of the games would be like. Of course, I took my camera. Shooting high school football is something that I have pondered in the past. For this I just had my stuff in the stands and I didn’t bring anything too large. The team played pretty well. We caught the end of the JV game when we got there and then the varsity team played. It was dark by then and the lights were fine for watching but left a lot to be desired from a shooting perspective. However, this was all just supposed to be some fun so I ramped up the ISO and went with what I could get.
The angles from the stands are not what I would normally want but even so, we had a pretty good line of sight for some of the plays. I wonder whether next year I shall make more of an effort to get there to cover more of the games and actually arrange to shoot from the sidelines.
A lot has been made of super moon events recently. While they have garnered a lot of attention, in truth the moon has been only fractionally larger than normal. Catching the moon low to the horizon will magnify it far more than the small change in distance manages. However, I am a sucker for a moon shot so I decided to try and find some high ground nearby to see this thing come up.
What I hadn’t counted on was the residual heat from the day. I stacked up the 500mm with a 1.4x teleconvertor on the tripod and awaited the arrival of the moon. It started to rise up and I really liked the view with the grass of the hillside ahead of me shadowing it as it rose. However, it was clear from looking through the viewfinder that the heat haze was a big problem. I got a few shots but they are not the clearest I have ever managed with the detail being heavily impacted by the shimmer in the atmosphere.
I did shoot a bit of video as well. The reason for the video was that I wanted to show the gentle wisps of cloud that drifted across the face of the moon as it rose. With the long lens combination, the moon actually moves quite quickly across the frame. I thought this looked pretty interesting. What I hadn’t appreciated at the time was that the video also dramatically illustrates the heat haze. Therefore, below is some footage of the moon at various stages of its progression supported by the sound of crickets on the hillside.