Telling Stories

Creating a memorable image takes thought and skill. A photographer has many choices available to them to assist in documenting and capturing moments in time. Light, emotion and inclusion or non-inclusion of elements all help to convey a mood and tell stories.

The results from the 2013 International Loupe Awards are now in and I thought I would share with you my images, their scores and their stories.

Image 1 – “Night Rodeo”
This image received a final score of 87 and a Silver Award. The five judging scores ranged between 73 and 88. The judge who gave it a 73 must have shuddered when he saw it took out First Place. One judge commented that the image was “A nice different take on a normal shot – kudos”. Of course what the judge is referring to is the middle part of the image where the steer wrestler is coming off his horse to catch the steer. I have lots of this type of shot in my archives and it is a common rodeo action shot to capture. In this case, bad arena lighting and positioning helped my cause in capturing this panoramic image showing all the drama surrounding the event.

Night Rodeo Steer Wrestling
“Night Rodeo”      © Sue Thomson  2012

Image 2 – “Media Man In Trouble”
This image received a final score of 82 and a Bronze Award. I actually entered it in the Photojournalism category because of the irony of the bull stomping, not on a cowboy, but on a media man who was recording the action and had turned his back on the arena and thought that the action was all over. He wasnt hurt, but his fancy camera, suffered unrepairable wounds!
The judging scores ranged between 78-89 and I had a judging comment to crop tighter and remove the distraction of the red top. Perhaps if I did this, the image would be stronger from a competition point of view, but I find myself more and more including elements to ‘’tell stories”’. To me, the inclusion of the Chute Boss and the cowboys scurrying to the rails were part of the story that I wanted to tell.  Check out those cowboys peeping through the rails!

Media Man In Trouble
“Media Man In Trouble”      © Sue Thomson  2012

Image 3 – “The Rescue”
This image received a final score of 79 and just missed a Bronze Award. Scores ranged between 73 and 88 and truth be told, it is my favourite image of the four. It is incredibly difficult to take rodeo action shots where you have all of the elements come together. In this image, the horse has four feet off the ground, you can see the emotion in the cowboy’s face, the story is being told of the rescue man bailing out the cowboy, and check out the rescue horse’s eye…..he is doing his job in adverse conditions! The other element that is a spoiler for rodeo shots, is signage in the background which can be mimised by choosing an appropriate aperture on the camera.  Converting the image to monochrome also helps to keep the attention focussed on the action.

The Rescue
“The Rescue”   
  © Sue Thomson  2012

Image 4 – Winner of the Bull Ride
This image received a final score of 78, with scores ranging between 68 and 88. It received two judging comments: “love the emotion, wish it were cropped tighter to show his expression” and “a little crop to lose a bit off the right side would have helped, well seen and well captured”.  I always take on board comments from judges, but in this case, I will keep the image the way it is. The story behind the image, and of course the judges would not have known this, is the cowboy had just ridden eight seconds on one of the toughest bulls. He received top score which won him the big bucks. To me, leaving in the rope signifies that he has finished his ride and the crowd, and his hat are all part of the story. The cowboy is a New Zealander and he was so excited, he was actually doing the haka. You can see that pesky signage in the background here, but with sport and photojournalism entries for awards, you cannot remove or add elements.

Rodeo Haka
“Winner of the Bull Ride”      © Sue Thomson  2012

All of these images were captured at Warwick Rodeo in October 2012.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the images, reading my award results and the stories behind them.

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The Winter Cowboy

Early one cold winter morning, five cowboys saddled up and rode out into the snow covered fields of the Black Hills of Northeastern Wyoming.
It is not often that a young Aussie lass, that would be me, has the chance to have real cowboys at her beck and call and shoot images. Not even a temperature of minus 30 degrees and a howling wind, could dampen my excitement.
After shooting for a while, I asked Tommy to go into the forest and then weave back out through the trees towards me. His horse spooked, he crashed through some branches, he cussed, he cussed very loudly, the snow dropped on to his hat…..and that was the shot I was after!
This image has won a number of international awards, including a Silver Award in the 2012 International Loupe Awards.

Winter in Wyoming Red Bubble

“Winter In Wyoming”     © Sue Thomson 2012

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Jumping Tarpon – Most Viewed Image

The Getaway Images website has now been live on the internet for almost two months.  During this time I have been madly learning geeky IT skills such as monitoring website and blog visit statistics.

Google Analytics tells me that “Jumping Tarpon” is currently the most viewed image so far, so I would like to share with you some information about how this image was created.

Some of you may have been thinking ‘what the hell is that?’ when you were looking at the thumbnail!

Jumping Tarpon blog

Jumping Tarpon

Last year, I was fortunate to visit the Everglades, Miami and Florida Keys.  The image of the tarpon was taken at Robbie’s, in Islamorada in beautiful Florida Keys.  Visitors come from around the world to witness the spectacle of the tarpon feeding and to enjoy the laid back lifestyle of this part of the world.

Islamorada consists of six islands and is situated between the saltwater wilderness of EvergladesNational Park in one direction, North America’s only coral barrier reef and the deep blue waters of the Florida Straits in the other.

Life is pretty relaxed down in the Key’s, palms sway in the breeze, hustle and bustle is non-existent and the folks are very friendly.  You get the feeling that the place has been forgotten in time.

Large schools of tarpons,  known as ‘silver fish’, prowl around the edge of the pier at Robbie’s in anticipation of being fed bait fish which you purchase by the bucket to feed the tarpons.  Large numbers of up to 100 congregate and excitedly thrash around when they can see food being tempted just above the waters edge.  Let me tell you….these fish are big!

Sitting on the sidelines, beautiful Brown Pelicans like this chap, look on in amusement in the hope of also getting a cheap feed.

Brown Pelican at Key West blog

Brown Pelican

On a technical note, “Jumping Tarpon” was taken by me hanging out over the side of the end of the pier, which is how I have got him at eye level.  At one stage, I was fearful that a tarpon would think I was a tasty morsel!   I used my Canon 50D camera with a 70-200 F2.8 lens at the following settings:  Aperture F5,6, shutter speed 1/1000 and ISO 400.

If you would like to see more of my images from Florida Keys, please visit the Florida Keys Gallery on