Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sombrero Ranch Photo Workshop 2011

For the past two weeks I have put on my cowgirl hat and had the time of my life chasing horses, cowboys and cowgirls in the high desert of northwest Colorado. This was my 6th year here and each year seems to be more fun than the last. Although it is a challenge to create new and exciting images photographing at the same event and location there is always so much happening that I still can feel overwhelmed at all the photo ops presented to me.
This year I worked once again with Scott Trees and Nikon rep Mark Kettenhoffen to set up the shoots along with a great crew of cowboys and cowgirls, headed up by the extraordinary cowboy Ed Pinkard. What makes this event so special is the skill with which Ed directs his crew and horses and also his innate understanding of light and the needs of photographers, and he never says something can't be done or complain about having to do something again (and again!).. Ed and the Sombrero horses have worked on movies such as Lonesome Dove, Dances with Wolves, the upcoming Cowboys and Aliens and Marlboro commercials so we are truly lucky to be able to work with someone of his skill and caliber...and in addition to that he is a true cowboy: good looking, funny, gracious and good to his horses.

We started out our workshop with a day of video shooting. Many DSLR's now have the capability to provide HD files, and as still photographers this is a skill we should pursue. I spent some time shooting the D7000 with the 28-300 lens and was really thrilled with the quality of the video. This day brought us snow squalls and cold wind but we perservered and were blessed with some great images!
For our main two days of shooting we had a large group of photographers hailing from as far away as the UK and Germany and many new friends were made. The weather settled down and we photographed from sunup to sundown. Some of the more spectacular shoots included a herd of about 100 horses moving through water the first morning, and the cool morning air, steam and back light combining for some memorable photo ops. We also had an epic shoot the next morning of another large herd moving like thunder by us in a formation that could not have been coreographed or planned any better. I always know when a shoot goes well when all the chatting dies down and there is nothing but silence and the clicking of shutters punctuated by the occasional "wow!!!"
In between we shot portarits, details, the stagecoach pulled by a team of six up, roping, silhoettes, longhorn cattle and more. On our last night together we invited everyone down to view the photos, always well attended and a chance to share the fun we had with our photos. I already can't wait to do it all again next year!
To view some of my favorite photos from the workshop (so far) go to this link I will add more once I get home, as well as a report from this year's Great American Horse Drive

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