Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #212 – Motion


Buckeye, Arizona.

In Patti’s challenge this week, she quotes Jacques-Henri Lartigue. He noted, “Photography to me is catching a moment which is passing, and which is true.” Patti then challenges us, “Show us images where you froze the action or focused on the moving parts of an image in the foreground or the background.” You can read her entire challenge post here.

Calf roping

In 2017, I attended my first rodeo for photography purposes. I had great fun capturing motion and freezing each moment in time. Sporting events are a great place to capture and freeze action, and indeed a couple of weeks ago, I shared an image of a high-powered dragster traveling down the track at over 200 mph. My challenge response this week features much slower moving subjects, but the need for a 1/2000 shutter speed was necessary to capture the action at the rodeo.

Hellzapoppin Rodeo-1
Bronc riding

One of my goals for capturing the bull and bronc rides was to capture the animals with all four feet off the ground. I was successful thanks to the burst mode in my Nikon D500. As it turned out, this rodeo was the last year it was housed in an outdoor arena. The following year, it moved indoors, and “professional” cameras used by amateur photographers were forbidden. To use something like my D500 now requires the purchase of a license from the pro rodeo circuit. When I last checked, that was $600 a year. Not unreasonable if you travel the rodeo circuit, but it sure puts a stop to amateurs like me.

Barrel Racer 2-1
Barrel Racer

I’ve shared the black-and-white version of this image before so for this post, I thought I’d share the final edits before sending it to Silver Efex 2 to do the conversion. It is one of my favorite moments captured at the rodeo.

Mutton busting

Even the littlest cowboys and cowgirls get into the action at the rodeo. These youngsters try to hang on as long as they can to that fast-moving sheep. This little guy is probably a future bronc rider.

Team roping

The last two images for my response feature something I discovered while processing the team roping photographs I captured. In this event, one roper captures the head of the calf and the other the hind legs.

Team roping

From the many shots in two days of team roping competition, I noticed that during the final stages of roping the calves, the two horses’ legs are in virtual lockstep. Not in every case, but in the vast majority of images, the forelegs of the two horses were in virtually identical positions in each image. You can see what I mean in the two images above.

I had the occasion a few weeks later to meet a team roper on a hike. Of course, I had to ask if they trained the horses to do that. He told me that the horses synchronize their motions all by themselves. They don’t need any training to adopt that behavior. That’s an interesting fact that I would have never discovered had I not taken so many images of the team roping event at the rodeo.

For a closer look at these action-stopping images, visit my Flickr album here to scroll through the gallery. Thanks to Patti for an interesting challenge, and check back next week when it’s Amy’s turn to host the Lens-Artists Challenge. If you’d like to join in posting your own challenge response, click here for the details.

John Steiner


  1. You and your Nikon did a great job, John! Fantastic action shots. I must try the burst mode. The price to photograph at the rodeo makes it so costly now. What a shame for the photo enthusiasts.

  2. Really excellent response John – and what an interesting “find” about the horses’ leg synchronization. Who knew?! And shame on them for the fees for non professional photographers. Personally while I can admire the skill of the rodeo participants and their 4-legged partners, I’m not a fan of rodeos because of the way the animals they rope and capture. But it surely made for some great motion photography!

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