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Posts Tagged ‘cowboy’

Ron Olson and Cisco

Ron Olson and Cisco

     Ron Olson was kind enough to volunteer his time, and that of his horse Cisco, for a “model” photography session for a student of mine a couple of weeks ago. As that session was “micro-managed” I offered a session to him as a gift and promised we’d head out in to the desert just south of his home and “play”. On Saturday, May 16th, we did just that…my assistant (husband) and I following Ron into the desert at 5:15 am to catch the first light as it rose over the Santa Catalina mountains of Tucson.
     Growing up on the outer limits of northwest Tucson, horses were my greatest friends, partners and freedom. The ones who graced my life in true partnership were often ridden as close to liberty as possible. I learned from the horses to ask rather than demand, let them show me what they did as their natural best, and ride without getting in the way of the horse in them. Ron and I are kindred spirits in our philosophies of Equus. Cisco has not had the horse trained out of him, which I very much admire as I’ve encountered many horses that have come to me for training that are either so confused that they can’t even gallop freely in pasture or they have become push-button horses who would walk into a tree if you didn’t turn them. I often  rode with only a halter or a lead rope around their neck with my tack left behind on the branches of a tree. Reckless? Not with the horses I trusted. If a horse really wants to buck or run away with you, not the severest bit is going to help. Ron has almost been banned from trail rides when they’ve seen him ride up without a bridle or halter. I say almost. Once it’s shown how he works with his horse it’s obvious that he is a true horseman and his horse a true partner.
     I was impressed to watch him and Cisco as they came to a stop with no words or movement of the neck-rope, only a slight shift of weight in the saddle and the intent to stop. More impressed still to watch them move through the desert trails and off trail through the trees and brush with alertness, ease, and seemingly with none of the typical “cues”. As I never shared this type of riding with anyone, except as arena demonstrations, and have never seen anyone else do it outside an arena I felt blessed to photograph the two of them as they enjoyed the desert morning. Incidentally, Cisco was an “outlaw” when he came to Ron.
Ron and Cisco backlit

Ron and Cisco backlit

     When I discovered photography as a child, I followed all the rules I knew and made up what I didn’t. First and foremost, I was taught to stand with the sun behind me over my shoulder and concentrate on the subject in front of me. Long before I attended a workshop or picked up a photography book, I grew bored with that and started playing with the light after a few “accidents” became some of my favorite photographs. I am drawn to how the light paints and often am influenced by that light to move to where I like it best and THEN concentrate on what I photograph in that light. Challenging sometimes, yet I love the light that rims a subject when the sun is directly in front of me and also how the wash of light in side-lighting creates depth and texture. This image of Ron and Cisco was created about 10 minutes after the sun had crested the mountains as I stood under my Sunbounce mini reflector to eliminate sun flare. I thank my patient husband who got an arm workout as I moved to different positions and he held that reflector high and steady.
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     This is another favorite from the session. The Santa Catalina mountains are ones I’ve lived close to since 1969. Here they serve as backdrop to a man and his horse as they ride through the rarity of open desert with the early morning sun bathing them in soft light. The colors are complimentary, with Ron’s shirt connecting with the sky, the bit of red drawing the eye to the horse, and the black standing out in sharp contrast to the gentle shadows on the mountains. When photographing black horses, I underexpose by at least 1/3 stop of light and in this image I brought it down by 2/3 stop to ensure a deep black.
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     It took years for silhouettes and I to become friends. I’ve always loved the look of them, yet I struggled to create ones that I felt were worthy to join my portfolio images. A silhouette is so different from a “lit” image and often people and animals need to be positioned more carefully and sometimes in ways that feels a bit awkward to show detail. A leg forward more or a face aligned just right or an arm lifted away from the body to show spacial definition. I tried many ways to properly expose these particular works of art, including simply underexposing them. The ways that work best for me are to expose on the sky and then set the camera manually for that exposure or for a faster solution I expose on the sky/hit the exposure lock button/auto focus on my moving subject and I’ve got my silhouette.
    

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Rusty McCall at family ranch in NM

Rusty McCall at family ranch in NM

     Heart Sessions are photography sessions that are donated or deeply discounted for people and animals who have touched my heart in exceptionally meaningful ways. These sessions are often donated, including travel and Artist Choice images when I can afford it. Large prints and other desired media/merchandise is deeply discounted for the recipients. The resulting images are also provided for press releases, publications, and websites gratis, with only the request for photographer’s credit and proper respect/credit given to the Heart Session recipient.
     I devote myself to documenting and honoring culture and spirit in all of my photography and I donate time/services/photography to many rescues and cultural events and altruistic offerings. What, then, is different about Heart Sessions?  These sessions are very specific “calls to action” inspired by direct experience and/or from hearing about the person or animal(s) from those who’ve lives have been touched by them. Often they are given priority over my own scheduled work and  personal needs due to circumstances that precipitate planning quickly. Sometimes I get a few days to plan it out yet many of these Heart Sessions have occured within hours or even minutes from the time my heart was first moved by these exceptional souls.
    
Examples of Heart Sessions:
     In  the image you see here is Rusty McCall, a 22 year old seventh generation rancher and Cowboy Poet. At four years old, his mother Deanna held him up to the microphone at the Elko Cowboy Poets gathering and so became the youngest cowboy poet to perform at Elko. He is a bit wild(normal for his age and gender) and does best out on his horse riding the circle on his favorite horse (shown here), Pardner. There will be at least one entry devoted to Rusty here in my blog, so watch for that. The short(er) story, for this entry’s purposes, is that I met Rusty a couple of years ago at the Prescott gathering in August and was immediately impressed by his charisma and talent and the way he brightened the day of anyone he met with a smile and a joke…and it was evident by watching him that his friends were true and loyal, earned by Rusty through his ethics and devotion to them. The only place this young man sits in the middle is on a horse…everything else about him goes to the extremes of serious grace and exhuberant laughter. The year I met him he had been diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (tumors on the nerves, in his case in the brain) and he had some paralysis on the right side of his face with some related sight and hearing problems. Last year, he had brain surgery and had to go through an extensive recovery period.
     This year, when he found he needed another intensive surgery (brain) he made the decision to do so after three western gatherings, Elko, Cochise, and Alpine. He made it to Elko and I was looking forward to seeing him in Sierra Vista for the Cochise gathering, but he was not well enough to attend. It was there that I spoke with his mother Deanna about coming to NM to photograph him at their ranch. Diane Tribitt wanted to do an article on Deanna with a portion of the article dedicated to Rusty and they spoke of making that happen. Shortly after the Cochise gathering, I drove to the McCall ranch in NM and spent a few days with them photographing Rusty up horseback as well as with his mother and father and their horses. Rusty surprised me with his willingness to try anything and once I turned around to see him jumping Pardner off a wash-bank with ease and perfect balance (Rusty has balance issues). So, when I laughed and asked him if he’d be willing to do it again, he did…five more times! Rusty cannot be kept down in body or spirit.
     When I returned to Tucson, Rusty was ever on my mind as I thought about the Alpine gathering coming up in just one week. His last performances before his surgery, just three days before in fact. I talked with my husband who immediately said to go. I was un-decided as my heart said I MUST go and my brain said I couldn’t afford it. My heart and the blessing of my husband won out and I drove to Alpine, TX, for the gathering. Every time Rusty had a performance I was there to photograph him. He was on the main stage on Saturday night and after a phenomenal recital of a poem joked with the audience. “Some of you know I’ve had some physical challenges lately and I’m really glad to be here. In just a few days they are going to do brain surgery on me. I don’t know why since I don’t have a brain.” How could I NOT donate Heart Sessions to a young man like this? One print I have gifted the family with, so far, is a 16×20 mounted photograph of the one heading this entry…an image to inspire him to work towards getting back on Pardner to once again ride the circle. (Read up on Rusty’s progress in upcoming entries here and on this page: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/mccalls.htm  There will be an upcoming article on Deanna and Rusty McCall in I.M. Cowgirl, by Diane Tribitt and I will be donating images to that article. I’ll update you as I find out more about the issue it will be in.) The following images are of Rusty in Alpine, TX for the Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
Rusty at Alpine Gathering (With close friend Gail Steiger)

Rusty at Alpine Gathering (With close friend Gail Steiger)

Other examples of Heart Sessions include a 14 year old Irish Wolfhound who was blind and deaf and had been the primary companion for a widow, an octogenarian Cowboy/Cowboy Poet who has long inspired me and others with her fortitude and ability to trail-blaze who went riding in the desert about an hour north of me (an opportunity not likely to present itself as she lives in another state), a 27 year old gelding who had helped “his woman” to ride through the obstacles life was challenging her with, a western singer/songwriter whose deeply compassionate nature touched all who met him as he fought cancer. (The Western world mourned when we lost him four months after his session. His widow now has a book full of 8×10’s of him that bring her joy.) Spirit moves me to continue these Heart Sessions.

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Georgie and Sam Heading Out

Georgie and Sam Heading Out

     During the Heart Session I did with Cowboy/Cowboy Poet Georgie Sicking, I created this image of her and my good friend’s fiance Sam Scott (Diane Tribitt’s beau) when they were heading out to enjoy a ride in the desert in Florence, AZ on February 9, 2009. Titled “Heading Out”, the brilliant blue sky with gold tones of dust and horse blended to make a piece of art that moved my heart to share it with Margo Metegrano of cowboypoetry.com. This month, the photograph is featured in her Art Spur project, published on cowboypoetry.com here: http://www.cowboypoetry.com/artspur.htm  Please visit cowboypoetry.com (you’ll get addicted!), follow the poems that come in for Art Spur and while you are there if you start clicking on the poet’s pages and gathering reports, you are bound to come across a bunch of the images I’ve donated to the site over the last few years.
     Diane Tribitt will be using this image as the cover for her upcoming new poetry book, also. Diane is a Minnesota poet, writer, and rancher and she was present when the photo was created. Georgie is a dear friend of hers. She’s also the Senior Executive Editor of “I.M. Cowgirl” magazine (www.imcowgirl.com). Her latest CD is “Ranchin’ Rhymes.” Read more about Diane Tribitt and her poetry at www.dianetribitt.com. 
She wrote a poem inspired by Georgie and this image, which I’m honored to share with you here:
Headin’ Out

Throughout her life she’d been condemned
for havin’ cowboy dreams
But she fulfilled her destiny,
enduring all extremes

She lived for ropin’ cattle, and
she roped ’em with be best
Tied ‘t burrows, cows and mustangs,
surpassing every test

She’s thankful God has blessed her with
the opportunity;
for cowboys who had taught her and
a mom who’d set her free

to live the life she dreamed of
with horses, cows and rope
as a lady and a cowboy,
on horizons brimmed with hope

She taught her kids to understand
the only life she knew
and blessed them with the gift of being
“you, and only you”

Each time she passed the reins to them
she made sure she was near,
yet far enough away from them
they wouldn’t sense her fear

She has loved some horses dearly
and disliked quite a few
She has lived by cowboy ethics
Honest, loyal, tried and true

Though she is blind, now, she still sees
what some refuse to see
for her soul was borne of nature
and her spirit’s proud and free

She was born to be a cowboy
and there ain’t any doubt,
When most old hands are headin’ in
they’ll meet her, headin’ out

© 2009, Diane Tribitt, All rights reserved

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The Cowboy and the GreyCowboy/Poet
The Cowboy and the Grey
     Georgie Sicking was born in Kingman, AZ in 1921. Through her very exceptional life she has lived passionately and strongly as a wife, mother, mustanger, cowboy poet and Cowboy. Yes, COWBOY…don’t call this gal a CowGIRL. In her world, cowboy is a verb…as in “to cowboy.”
     I met Georgie at a cowboy poets gathering a couple of years ago and then again when I picked her up from the airport in Tucson this year to deliver her to a night concert/recital with fellow performers STAMPEDE!, dear friend Diane Tribitt, and surprise performer  local “celebrity” Mae Camp (I’ve known Mae since I was a child and I showed horses with her daughter Kathy in 4-H). Georgie was headed for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in Sierra Vista, where I’ve been the official photographer for the last four years. After a wonderful, if exhausting, gathering Diane Tribitt called to let me know that Georgie would be going a  ride in the desert with Sam (Diane’s fiance) by their Florence, AZ home the next morning. I offered a Heart Session to document this important woman and said I’d be there in the morning.
     The morning turned out to be beautiful, with a bright blue sky dotted with cumulous clouds. Georgie scrambled up on a horse trailer fender and her horse moved over close to her. She climbed up into the saddle and off we went into the desert, Sam and Georgie up horseback and Dianne and I following on shank’s mare. With each stride, the hoofbeats seemed to synchronize with Georgie’s heartbeat and the years dropped off her as she sat straighter in the saddle. I felt blessed to photograph her, witnessing this true Cowboy on her new fuzzy flea-bit friend. In one of the pictures shown here, the gelding shows a bit of a “snotty” attitude and I said to Georgie that he fit her well. She threw her head back and laughed and said “I’ll take that as a compliment!” What a gal this Cowboy is.
     I sent a picture to Margo Metegrano of cowboypoetry.com, for Georgie’s  poetry page and also one of Sam and Georgie riding into the desert for the Art Spur feature where poets are inspired by a photograph or painting to write a poem. The photograph I sent for Art Spur is titled Heading Out. The photograph on Georgie’s page was seen by the curator of the National Cowgirl Museum, where Georgie is a Hall of Fame recipient. They are creating an exhibit of Georgie for an upcoming show, when a pair of Georgie’s spurs will be added to the museum’s collection, and the picture above where the little grey has perked ears and Georgie is looking forward will be included in this exhibit. 

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