I’ve done a variety of equine photography over the years, but until I started doing photography at the Western Idaho State Fair I had never heard of draft horse log pulling competitions. Upon seeing it listed in the fair event brochure with a start time of 7pm I knew it would at least have the benefit of some magic hour light, and that was enough for me to check it out!
When I got to the arena I was happy to see beautiful large horses and competitors with a lot of character and enthusiasm for their sport. One of the good things about this sport is that it has action, but it’s slow…
|f6.3 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 70mm|
You can see what I like about this light; It’s an hour before sunset making the direct sunlight striking my subjects controllable.
Really nice friendly people here, too…
|f5.6 @ 1/640 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 88mm|
A big part of my storytelling at these events is doing images of individual competitors for a glimpse of behind the scenes character.
An image to illustrate the competition…
This shows the basic idea of the event; to guide the horses through the course and through the yellow course markers without knocking them down with the logs. It looks easy in the stills, but not so much in real life.
More of the character…
|f5.6 @ 1/320 sec., ISO 400; Lens @ 200mm|
Did I say they were friendly? And each had his own style—this guy had kind of a Hawaiian cowboy thing going on!
|f6.3 @ 1/200 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 120mm|
She was obviously very serious about the draft course competitions, but she wasn’t there to just mind the horses….
|f6.3 @ 1/400 sec., Iso 800; Lens @ 150mm|
She was in the competition using the same two-horse, two-log, rig as the men. This image is nice because it illustrates how those logs, as they turn through the yellow course markers, can twist and roll creating a serious foot hazard to the competitors! They had to be quick and nimble avoiding the errant logs while still guiding the horses through the next turn.
That’s why staying ON the logs was best…
|f6.3 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 800; Lens @ 90mm|
This image sums up the classic Americana—with old glory flying in the background—of the State Fair here in Idaho.
I feel privileged to be here to document such things while they are still practiced.
’Til next week…
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com