Out shooting with David Toczko though still far from his standard of excellence
Out shooting with David Toczko though still far from his standard of excellence
No, I’m not back on the East Coast yet, though if I were I’d be in Lexington with David Toczko at the Rolex Three Day. It was a highlight of my year in 2012. This particular picture was a backdrop for another type of highlight in 2010, the sort that comes ones way just as they’re falling over the edge of a cliff. The good with the bad you know. It was taken in North Carolina. And like the song says, for a while falling can feel like flying. It looks much more appealing to me today than it did in the days shortly after it was taken. Still….
I’m throwing it up because for the last couple of years I’ve been shooting craggy western peaks and the sunsets that seem to crash over them on their way to Australia and beyond. The eastern mountains that I grew up with have a more soothing effect. The peaks older and smoother and covered with evergreens dotted with patches of deciduous trees here and there: Just enough to ensure a colorful display each autumn. The ridges interlock with one another creating corridors that zig and zag and invite you to explore further. They draw you in. This particular sunset was especially hypnotic and on the day it was taken was all but intoxicating. The results were so predictable – to everyone but me.
I miss these vistas. They can be replicated to a degree by the mountains that surround the northern boundaries for the Los Angeles Basin, the Santa Monica hills to the northwest and the San Gabriels immediately to the north and east. Given just the right amount of haze they take on that blue aura so familiar too habitués of the eastern mid-Atlantic. But sage brush and juniper give the illusion away. They have their own appeal of course and I’d be the first to tell you that it is no less compelling an environment than the one with which I am most familiar. Just not the same.
When you stand on the Blue Ridge and look west you’re gazing at the long-held promise of America. Everything you see for as far as you can see constitutes the portfolio of freedom that has stood at the core of our existence since before we were a nation. What you see is the tangible vision that fueled our drive to explore and discover and claim and capture and hold dear. It was not always a clear vision. Not at all. Our saving grace has been that it prevailed.
When I stand on the mountaintops here in California and look west I see the periphery of the largest ocean on earth. For decades it provided a boundary that protected our endeavors and a sea upon which we could pursue more diversified interests than were available to us otherwise. But to my mind it never ever drove us to achieve the way that Blue Ridge promise did. The ocean has always been something we could take or leave – at least so far as our national identity is concerned. In fact that is not true; in feeling it is spot on.
I wound up where I am now for many of the same reasons that our ancestors did. I am working on gaining a greater understanding of the tagline Mr. Thurber provided for this blog. I’m grateful for the trails my predecessors blazed. They certainly made it easier for me to get here. But it’s left to me to figure out why. And to take in any sunset anywhere for what it’s really worth: the promise, though not the guarantee, of a new day to come.
I have yet to get around to posting any but the Fresian horse shots that I took during the Rolex Three Day event in late April. I’ll get to it shortly. Those images require more attention than I have to give at present. But I thought I would share some of the in-between fare.
What’s “in-between?” All those things I shot that were not the primary targets, especially since the primary targets are simply over-exposed – meaning you can see a lot of them in a lot of different places. You’ll only see the following shots here. You might conclude that’s a good thing.
Let’s begin with Hats. You can’t have a horse event without hats.
We had baseball hats, some even doubled up on these.
Then there were the fedoras in various materials. The leather ones looked hot – as in warm.
And of course the sort of traditional straw hats that are worn to these events. I’m sure the offerrings later in the week at The Derby put all these to shame but still….
And the no-particular-category hat, decorated accordingly.
Boots are at least as popular here as hats, maybe even more so. “THE” boot was the dubarry – straight from Ireland. They are of the type that if you have to ask how much, you’re not really a dubarry sort of customer.
This was the guy to ask – or just watch. Dubarry really pushes water-proofing and people wearng them would jump into water for any or no reason at all.
Here’s a few up close and personal
Not everyone could afford dubarry’s – IMHO in addition to money they also lacked in taste.
We had a lot of KIDS:
and DOGS :
It helped that a lot of these dogs were attached to some very attractive owners.
Rolex was the the main sponsor of this event and has been for the past 38 years. The stadium here at Kentucky Horse Park is named after the company. They were great hosts, providing us media types with lunch and brunch and unlimited internet access and air conditioning. The secondary sponsor was Land Rover. They provided test rides around the back lot for anyone who cared to stand in line for about 30 minutes. So, here are some ROVERS:
There were almost as many Land Rovers tethered ’round the park as there were horses.
And everyone wanted to give directions. It’s OVER THERE!
As if anyone listened.
One thing I always listen closely for is REDHEADS. Wouldn’t be an event without them. There were a lot of Brits and Irish at this event. Great venue 🙂
We had plenty of PHOTOGRAPHERS at the event. Sometimes it seemed as if they outnumbered the Land Rovers. They were a hearty bunch and most were seasoned equine shooters. The good ones had Canons. 🙂
This is the media mosh pit: provided and stocked by Rolex and Rover
Photogs are either shooting, contemplating what they captured, or exaggerating their results with other photogs.
This is Mike. He has this rig that shoots forward and backward at the same time.
When not shooting, contemplating or exaggerating we are all praying for THE shot.
Sometimes prayers are answered
I know the subject of this shot looks pretty much like a horse. But if you look a little closer just off the horse’s nose and down about 6 degrees you’ll see that it’s actualy a picture of David shooting the horse as it comes over the jump. I suppose if you go to his site at Lone Dakota Photography you could get the other side of this picture. Look for rider #29 in the Cross Country.
I thought this deserved another look. I could rue the decision if Libby Law ever happens to stumble upon this blog. This was great logowear and I guarantee you that it got a lot of attention, which is what advertising is all about, right?
My host for this event and the Media Credentials that came along with it was David Toczko, El Jefe at Lone Dakota Photography. He’s very good his job. This event was his warm-up for The Derby that followed the next weekend in Louisville. Since photographers rarely ever get photographed themselves – except maybe on a surveillance camera – I thought I would take a few shots of him for posterity.
This is David at the Ariat Reining Event trying to get his head on straight.
This is David feigning that he’s only adjusting his cap.
The end of a long day and a mug of root beer – so he said.
This is David and Beth. I think she’s much more photogenic than he is, don’t you?
So. You’ve made it this far and now you get to see my Favs of the in-betweens:
The horse is a Fresian. His name is Tice. He had just only completed a wondrous demonstration in the ring adjacent to where we’re standing now and everyone wanted to touch him. His rider was as patient as he was. Sitting there. Answering questions. Encouraging all the kids to gather round. She included me in that invitation. It felt good just to stand next to this horse. He was quite calm considering the tidal wave of humanity that had rolled his way. He seemed at the same time to be both proud and humble. He was unquestionably powerful and, from what I observed while he was in the ring, quite intelligent and well-trained. He belonged there.
I don’t know who the young lady is. She reached out to touch Tice. I took the picture.
This is a groom. She was working with her horse and rider in the dressage practice and warm-up area, the spot all the dressage types hung out in just prior to entering the competition ring. Grooms, I think, must be key ingredients to the success recipe of their horse and rider. They’re like the pit crew or the ground crew or the stage crew or anyone of those other types of crews that prepare the way and then stand and wait and cross their fingers and toes. I don’t think grooms cheer. At least not dressage grooms. It’s a very stuffy event and to the untrained eye it’s extremely boring to observe for any length of time. Think twenty-five Olympic figure skaters back-to-back.
I recall the horse this particular groom was leading away was, as horses go, quite handsome. My lens got distracted though.
One of the concessions at the event was Wild Bill’s Soda Bar. You can find a picture of Bill in the Hats area. I also think there is an iPhone post of his rig a few days back in the blog. Bill had a great business model. He offered about seven different types of root beer and birch beer (no beer beer) all dispensed through self-serve spigots attached to ‘wooden’ barrels on the side of the saloon stand. Customers poured the brew into one of three different mugs. In fact, what Bill sold was the mugs. They all looked much the same except for the emblem attached. There was a plain mug that could be purchased for a single filling for $5. There was the mug emblazoned with a ’10’ that cost $10 and could be refilled all day long – for a single day. And there was the ’20’ mug that was good for unlimited refills for the entire three days in return for a $20 fee. It’s hard to imagine that many of the $5 mugs were sold. But it seemed that most of the crowd was carrying one version or the other.
I told Bill I was from VA and he said he thought someone in VA was also running one of these stands. Bill was from Lancaster, PA. I’m thinking that if I spent my summers manning one of these stands (if it belonged to me) I could produce sufficient profit to underwrite wintering in some very friendly climes. I failed to ask Bill what he did in winter. Next time.
Last but not least – The Rover. It was Sunday morning and I was setting up along the railing to shoot the jumping event, the final event of the show. I found myself settled in front of jump #10 and began doing a few test shots. I was still struggling with this task of shooting things that refuse to stand still while I lock on the focus. This event was to be my last opportunity to practice that skill so I was trying to lock my personal focus on the jump area.
The Rover provided some shade. Very thoughtful of Rover. But then I noticed the great reflection I was getting out of the corner of my eye. It projected a very artful visual of the stadium and of my targeted jump. Snap! I liked the shot. I think Rover should swoop this shot up for inclusion in its alltime archive of great Rover shots.
Something tells me though….