My wife and I went to the Eugene Pro Rodeo for the Fourth of July, and I couldn’t resist bringing along my camera. The final day was bull riding only, and I was excited to take a crack at shooting the event. The snarling, 1,500-pound bulls and a little bit of pre-dusk light made for some cool opportunities, but I’m afraid I missed out on most of them.

For starters, I was sitting in the stands, in the middle of the arena, second row. The wannabe photographer in me really wanted to cruise behind the bleachers over to the gates to get a better vantage point. The husband in me stayed put and made do.

My vantage point made it difficult to avoid annoying background noise, such as all the signage around the inside of the arena. I am, however, starting to get a better feel for my Canon Rebel XS and understanding both its limitations and mine. That’s been a big learning curve, on both accounts. These are all shot at the max 1/4000 shutter speed and with auto focus. I continue struggling with the auto focus, because the camera tends to lock on to something behind the subject and, since I’m firing continuously, I end up with a series of photos with semi-blurry subjects (such as the face of the bull rider in the shot below). I don’t trust myself enough yet to use manual focus on things like this, but I’ll continue practicing with it. Photogs — if you’ve got any tips on this front, drop me a comment below.

The other thing I struggle mightily with while shooting live action is keeping my horizon straight. I’m guessing a lot of beginning photographers have difficulty with this one while shooting live action, but I thought I was being mindful of it until I got my pictures up on my computer and saw how crooked some of them were. I was able to fix most of them with the Free Transform tool and some cropping, but others were so crooked I didn’t bother posting them. Again, I’d appreciate any tips at all from those of you who know what you’re doing.

I also took photos of the pre-rodeo motorcycle jumping and cow hide racing.