I call this one “the tale of the one that got away.” Also known as, “my screw up.”
I was photographing the rodeo Sunday night at the Blaine County Fair in Chinook, Montana, and like everybody else in attendance I was looking forward to the bull riding event. There’s a reason why they make it the final event of the evening.
The sun had gone down and lighting was becoming very poor in the arena. Because the action was so far away (I was using a 400mm lens) there was no way I could use my flash. So I cranked up the ISO on my camera (6400) and hoped for the best. That’s when disaster struck.
A poor bull rider had the unfortunate fate of drawing a particularly angry bull. Most of the bulls in the rodeo are angry enough, but this one wanted no part of the rider. And to show his dissatisfaction he dumped the rider and jumped nearly four or five feet in the air. I have never seen such a thing. A beast weighing nearly one ton suspended in mid-air. It would have been the perfect shot. Bull rider on the ground. Astonishment from the rest of the riders watching nearby. Men racing in to help the rider. And a massive 2,000 lbs. bull lurking high above him.
When you look at photo on the back of your camera (this is called ‘chimping’) you can’t tell if it is perfectly focused. You can, however, tell when it is NOT in focus. And that was the case this past Sunday night. I knew immediately that I missed the shot. My shutter speed was far too slow for the conditions (1/100th of a second–should have been closer to 1/500th of a second) and I must have also moved my camera ever so slightly to make things worse. What a colossal failure. And before you say “just fix it in Photoshop,” there’s nothing that can be done to fix this kind of mess in Photoshop. The shot is a complete loss.
Oh well. Better luck next time.