Demystifying the world of sports photography

2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo Diary Part 2: Picture Editing

This is the second in a series of posts looking at what it takes to prepare for and shoot the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.

Famously the NFR is a fast rodeo. The action alternates between the roughstock end and the timed-event end with precious few breaks in the action. Generally from the national anthem to the end of the bull riding is never more than a few minutes beyond two hours, 50-100% shorter than a regular-season rodeo. This is good for workload, bad for workflow where editing time can be as much as 3-4x shooting time. I’ve already covered captioning in advance, this post will take a look at setting up a workflow that can handle a high volume of pictures, a variety of clients with different time sensitivities, all with an eye toward making it through 10 straight days of shooting.

As discussed, I’ll mark the pictures in-camera that I need to edit immediately after each night’s action is over. After those pictures are captioned and tagged, I’ll apply some light editing. Ideally it will just be a crop and a quick toning. The Thomas & Mack Center is a mess of different colored lighting mixed with the smoke from the fireworks they set off before each performance. I’ve gone back through my pictures from 2011 and made notes on color temperatures and exposures, and from that information I set up presets in Aperture that can be batch-applied. I’m not counting on this to be perfect right off the bat, but I do expect to be able to get it pretty close after a night or two, and in turn save a bunch of editing time. (I realize most of you do not use Aperture, but you can build presets in Lightroom and other editing programs as well.)

Since the rounds start at 7pm, I have the whole next day to tag, caption and edit the remaining pictures, clean my gear (sensors and glass), charge the batteries, and download the stock draw for that night. The daily goal is to caption & tag everything and rate pictures in the following way:

4*: best of roping and barrel racing pictures plus anything out of the ordinary…edit & send ASAP
3*: best of the rest…edit & send following day
1*: keep in case (generally very similar to 3 & 4*, kept in case clients want slightly different versions to show off a logo or piece of gear not visible in the (photographically) best versions.
X: reject (probable delete after a second look at a later date)

So 4* pictures will be captioned, edited, and delivered each night, 3* the next morning, 1* will sit until a client wants to see options, and X will eventually be deleted. Everything needs to be organized, but not everything needs to be edited, not with 10 consecutive days of shooting.

Everything will be continuously backed up to 2 external drives, one will be with me and one will be in the safe.

The key to making it through the 10 days is getting a lot of rest, eating as close to normally as you can in Vegas, and conserving energy so that the night’s shoot/edit can go as smoothly as possible. Last time I made it to about the fifth round before exhaustion took over and the seventh round before I got a full-on cold which had me limping to the final round. I’m hoping that extensive planning and some better time-management will get me through in better shape this year.

clint_nfr

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One response

  1. This is great info. I am a portrait and volume photographer in Minnesota and will be in Vegas as the NFR is just getting going. ( Dec. 2-6) Not shooting at the NFR but out in the desert for another project but I find this fascinating and would love to attempt to photograph a rodeo sometime. Your Rodeo portraits are beautiful.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

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