Signs of Spring

24 03 2010

Signs of Spring

We moved to the Pacific Northwest in April 5, 2004, from Colorado.  It was quite the caravan:  One car with a dying transmission, 1 flatulent dog, one constipated and very unhappy cat, a very chatty African Grey Parrot,  5 hermit crabs, 3 curious Arabian horses in a trailer, being pulled by a F350.  It took three days and two nights.  There were no problems, although the car did not last the first week in our new state before it was traded in.  Anyways…

When we first we moved here, we rented a house with 7 acres and a barn (that’s why I started with the caravan story…)  It wasn’t long afterward, that we noticed that the barn and sky were full of these little acrobats joyfully flying through the morning and evening skies.  The Violet-Green Swallow makes its summer home here and other parts of the West.  They are so much fun to see zip through the sky catching and eating flies, mosquitoes, and other small insects.  The spring after we moved into our current home, we nailed a swallow nest to the back of the house and it was quickly adopted by a pair of these wonderful little creatures.  For the past 4 years that nesting box has been used and each of those years, a clutch of swallows leave the box, spend a few weeks around the neighborhood while the juveniles gain strength and endurance.  During this time, I always have a camera in hand or at least close by. You will see their photos at different locations on my site.  (Yep!  One of them are on the splash page.)  Before the end of August, the newly enlarged families start disappearing and start their flights south.

It is getting close… they’re getting close, returning from their winter vacations in Mexico.  There are plenty of bugs flying now and I’ve cleaned last year’s litter out of the nesting box, ready for clutch number 5.  Everything is ready.  I cannot wait, because the return of these little acrobats is my sign that spring has arrived!!

Thanks for reading!

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Turn and Burn

5 11 2007

Big Smiles

This past weekend started the 3rd season I’ve had the pleasure to photograph the Evergreen Barrel Racing Association events. This will be the first season I’ve officially ‘sponsor’ the association through the use of my photography on their website and photograph gift certificates for their yearly raffle. Now, if you aren’t familiar with barrel racing… hold on to your hats cause these ladies (and even a few guys) get on these rockets on four hooves and race the clock around three barrels and a cloverleaf pattern at breakneck speed! Pretty much the distance between the barrels is the same, but the distance from the line where the time starts and stops can vary depending on the space in the arena. This weekend’s race at Stewart’s Arena was held inside and winning times were just over 15 seconds, if my memory serves me right.

Barrel racing is set up for everyone from Peewees (as in the attached photo) through and up to those over forty. Males and females compete in the same divisions. Horse and riders range in experienced from those ‘not very’ to ‘professional’. While competitive, races are a great social gathering of like minded folks and a great times seems to be had by all.

As a photographer, the biggest challenge besides dodging flying dirt clods is trying to use enough flash to produce a pleasing photograph while not scaring the horse as it rounds the second barrel were I am pre-positioned and waiting.  Action is fast and with the flash, continuous shutter release is not possible (at least on my budget).  Timing is important!!  Speaking of budget, I shoot all of these events on ‘spec’: meaning I am not being paid to be there by the race promoter. I only get paid if I sell a photo. It takes the sale of many photographs to begin to cover the costs associated with a day of shooting … but hopefully the work will sell itself.  And on those days that it doesn’t, being a horseman it is just plain fun to be around the horses.

The dark arena will eat as much light as you can through at it. Finding the right lighting is a challenge.  I will continue to wok on until I get it right.