Rides at Sunrise

I would bet that the majority of my photo shoots begin at or before sunrise. Ranchers, cowboys and horsemen are already busy at work, and the morning light is clean and brilliant. I usually position myself with the sun behind my back so that the sun's rays illuminate the scene. However, while photographing horseman Buster McLaury many years ago, I ended up pointing my lens into the sun. It gave the scene a unique feel and reminded me that sometimes it's good to work from different angle or perspective. The McLaury article, which shared good advice on starting a young horse under saddle, appeared in the May 2009 issue of Western Horseman.I would bet that the majority of my photo shoots begin at or before sunrise. Ranchers, cowboys and horsemen are already busy at work, and the morning light is clean and brilliant. I usually position myself with the sun behind my back so that the sun's rays illuminate the scene. However, while photographing horseman Buster McLaury many years ago, I ended up pointing my lens into the sun for a few frames. It gave the scene a unique feel and reminded me that sometimes it's good to work from different angle or perspective. The McLaury article, which shared good advice on starting a young horse under saddle, appeared in the May 2009 issue of Western Horseman.

 

Saguaro Session

160210 kevil 178Arizona horse trainer Mike Kevil has written a number of good articles for us over the years, and I have taken the photos for a few of those stories. I shot this photo while working on an article titled "The Buddy System," in which Mike shares tips for using an experienced horse to help a green colt get through unsettling situations. The story appeared in the May 2017 issue. This scene looks like miles from civilization, but it's actually just a patch of brush and cacti across the blacktop road from where Mike trains his horses. There were plenty of ideal settings for this training article photo shoot—logs to cross, a dry creek bed, low-hanging limbs. And you can't beat a scene with a towering saquaro cactus in the background.

Well After Dark

090527 gardiner 151I had no idea that I would spend so many hours in the saddle when I visited Gardiner Angus near Ashland, Kansas. The respected Black Angus seedstock operation is a family-run business, and Mark Gardiner is the driving force. On the first day, we moved a set of cows several miles to a new pasture. There were plenty of opportunities for photos because I think the job took five or six hours. I shot this photo of Mark after the sun had set. We didn't get back to headquarters until after 10. Early the next morning, we trailered a short distance and then long-trotted a few more miles. The crew spent all morning and part of the afternoon gathering some rough river country. There were about 350 head in that brushy, rugged pasture, and by noon they had gathered about 348. When other crew members were willing to call that good enough, Mark was headed back out again to find the missing two or three. I shot way more photos than necessary and wound up helping the crew. We finished at 2:30, and I believe every living cow in that pasture was pushed through the gate. The story appeared in the August 2009 issue of Western Horseman.

Circles in the Grass

Matt Koch circles a cow . The article appeared in the Matt Koch circles a cow in an open pasture. The cow horse trainer likes to ride his horses outside the arena at times, and that includes working on reined cow horse maneuvers. "They have to learn to find their feet," he says. "You may be chasing a cow across a small hill, and the horse better stay square or we're going to fall." At the time, Koch was working for Wagonhound Land & Livestock in Wyoming. The article appeared in the July 2016 issue of Western Horseman.

Curve of Cows

Honestly, photographing cowboys trailing cows is usually Honestly, photographing cowboys trailing cows can be extremely boring. There isn't a lot of fast-moving action and the scenery is often unremarkable. If you position yourself in front of the action, you mess up the drive. If you set up to the side, it's tough to get the herd and cowboys in your frame without having a lot of "dead space." If you get behind, then you photograph a lot of behinds. While shooting at the Four Sixes Ranch in Guthrie, Texas, a couple of years ago, bringing up the rear worked out for me. As Adam Smith (left) and Riggin Johnson trailed behind, the cows, calves and bulls followed a red dirt road with an S curve. That, along with the bright green mesquite trees and dust, made this an interesting photo.