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Tag Archives: Horse Racing
Brian Bell watching the crowd at Ajax Downs during a race.
Now that's some talent!
A Look Back at Ajax Downs: 2011 in review
When I look back on 2011 I remember the cold wet start to the 2011 season at Ajax Downs. The track was soaking and the day seemed very long. By the end of the day I wondered if I had any pictures that would be worth printing. This photo taken during the Ajax Downs Season Opener puts it all in to perspective. Seeing Peter Gross interviewing Chelsey Willick after her win seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year.
Ajax Downs Workouts
One day that surprised me was May 11, 2011 during a workout. Timing is often everything when taking photos of race horses and this picture of Erika Smilovsky is proof. Right out of the gates she was tossed head first over the horse and came very close to being trampled on.
To see more of the photos taken during the 2011 season at Ajax Downs swing by my Flickr Page.
For the past several years I have been fortunate to travel to a number of sporting events to pursue my photography. At many of these events I find myself roaming around bumping in to all types of people and asking questions. In order to capture the best possible pictures it’s very important to understand the event as a whole. I’ve found the best way for me to capture the essence of a sporting event is 2 fold, 1) research the sport before I get there and 2) know the environment that I’m working in.
Know Your Contacts and Get to the Event Early
Arriving early to the event is extremely important, well for me at least. I like to get their early find my main contact and start to plan the day. Generally my main contact is the ‘go to’ person for many people. This can both help and limit you while you’re there. They know who to connect with and when to be somewhere. Once you have found your contact make sure you ask all the questions you need answered, you may never see them again. Generally I’ll ask for some basic guidelines of what I’m allowed to do and what I’m not allowed to do. Then I’ll ask for any other contacts or ‘go to’ people I should know about get a map and time schedule. Now I’m set to roam around and settle in to the location/event and find the perfect spots to shoot from.
Overall I’ve had great experiences with those who are running the event or participating in them. They are kind, helpful and generally just enjoying themselves. Lately I’ve been photographing horse events where the action is fast and at times high risk. A number of times I’ve been given a heads up on a potential danger to me by someone working the event, specially a bull heading my way at a rodeo.
Now the one area I’ve had some ‘issues’ is with a couple of other photographers. Recently while shooting a horse eventing program one of the official photographers of The Royal Winter Fair (RWAF) was upset that I was shooting from a particular spot. Now when I entered the arena I was told by security to stand in this very spot. Now why would a photographer who has the perfect location (on the floor of the arena) be upset that another photographer is taking photos? Personally I don’t get it. Yes it’s a business and yes we all need to make money, but seriously what ever happened to professional etiquette or fair competition. Well it seems this same sort of behavior runs through some photographers. They try to get in your shot by standing in your way or leaning over to force you to move. Give me a break! This behavior only says one thing to me; I’m on the right track.
To all those photographers or up incoming ones remember in life what goes around comes around. So when taking photographs at a rodeo, horse race or major Horse Show enjoy yourself, you just might see an improvement in your pictures.
Track Conditions at Ajax Downs
What a mix bag today, Aug 8 2001, at Ajax Downs. Started off hot and muggy and ended up rainy and mucky. All and all it was another good day at the track for taking photos. From the first race to the last there was action as usual. Some horses like Stockton Tx shown here didn’t want to play and dropped jockey Tony Phillips and took off out of the gate before anyone else.
Ajax Downs Photos Aug 8
There are many more photos of the races from Aug 8, 2011 and will be posted to both our Flickr site and Facebook page. To catch them when they’re released ‘like’ us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/DRPhotos.ca) and you’ll see them as they are posted.
Today I spent more time down by the gates to catch both the intensity of the jockeys as well as the power of the horses. Once the gates are opened everyone starts off the same, well most of the time, and you can see it from the focused look on the jockeys.
More photos from the races on August 8, 2011 will be posted on Flickr and Facebook over the next days and weeks.