More so than the other rodeo events, barrel racing is all about maneuverability and raw speed. This is particularly evident on the start and the run for home. Riders begin well back from the timing gate (actually, they are outside the arena in Austin but the video screen show them pelting in from the holding pen area) that marks the beginning of the course and are at a full gallop when they cross the line. After three almost-360 degree turns around the barrels they dash the full length of the arena back to the gate that clocks their finish time. It’s incredibly exciting and fabulous to watch the riders’ skill in whipping around the barrels with only inches to spare.
Rather than aiming for sharpness here, I decided to try to capture the feeling of speed so I dialed in a slow shutter speed and tracked the rider on the homeward stretch. My hit rate on this type of shot is very low since it’s important to make sure that at least part of the image, preferably the rider’s and horse’s heads, are at least semi-sharp. My approach, as in the fast action shots, is to use continuous firing and take 5 or 6 frames as I track the action. If I’m lucky, one of these will do the trick.
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