One second of the Austin Rodeo

I had a nice opportunity to shoot Rodeo Austin this year with a press pass. It gave me the chance to get into the Rodeo and to sit temporarily in any unoccupied seat. As a city slicker from the East Coast, it was great fun. And while I’ve been to the carnival portion of Rodeo Austin many times, this is the first time I ever stepped foot into the heart of the rodeo itself. Austin doesn’t feel very “Texas like” in many places but here I certainly felt transported to a whole different world. Sort of like a tourist in my own home town.

I often say that mirrorless cameras like the Olympus Pens are not suited for fast action sports. And that’s true in many cases but not all. Let me explain. If you shoot soccer, kid’s soccer in my case, the almost random back and forth motion of the game is hard to capture with a mirrorless camera. It’s really the continuous focus that suffers. Composing with an optical view finder, not an EVF, is really the best way to go and DSLRs are great for this — there is no EVF or LCD lag.

However, for fast action that is more predictable, the Olympus Pen can do a spectacular job. Below are 8 photographs I took with my Olympus E-PM2. This kind of action is perfect for this camera since I knew exactly where the rider and bucking bronco are going to start.

Bucking Bronco 1, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas
Bucking Bronco 2, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas
Bucking Bronco 3, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas
Bucking Bronco 4, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas
Bucking Bronco 5, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas
Bucking Bronco 6, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas
Bucking Bronco 7, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas
Bucking Bronco 8, Rodeo Austin - Austin, Texas

Bucking Bronco 1 – 8, Rodeo Austin – Austin, Texas

I took all 8 photographs in 1 second. Look at the LCD clock at the top of the picture. It matches perfectly with the E-PM2 specs of 8 continuous frames per second. All were shot at 1/500 of a second at f1.4 and ISO 1600. I used my favorite Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4 which gives a 50mm equivalent view.

The action happens so fast it was hard for me to keep track. I basically aim at the gate and a fraction of second after the gate opens, I mash my finger down on the shutter. Then I just follow the action. As long as the horse remains at the same relative distance from me, they all stay in sharp focus. I got a pretty decent keeper rate too. After a second or so buffer fills up and the shots per second slows down dramatically.

I got a lot more than bucking broncos so I’ll post more photos from the rodeo in the coming days. It’s hard to believe that I shot these back in March. Time flies when you shoot too much and talk too much about gear. It’s all fun.

Please stay tuned.

Photographs taken with the Olympus E-PM2 with the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4.

Click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure detail.


6 thoughts on “One second of the Austin Rodeo

  1. darn best event i shot! Yesiree! Yup.
    a few years back got press pass to rodeo.
    Yup! Here in Big-T. OK Toronto Canada.
    well the West is here too, look Westwards.
    i had my trusty Leica M3, 50mm lens.
    Yes i had other lenses and do-dahs..
    See the dust? no way changing lenses…
    Oh! No motor wind but exposed 5 frames in about a 2 sec moment..
    great pix from you, Post more!
    jason gold.

  2. You betcha! that’s why my M3 looks the way it does.. like me, kinda worn, dented, vulcanite missing in places like my hair, but knowing your camera, the secret and fun.
    like the blurry ones better..jason

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