Wow, what a crazy 24 hours since being named the winner of the Alltech/IAEJ A+ award winner! So many wonderful notes from colleagues, international requests for the image, and celebrating (virtually) with the winners of the other categories. One request was to see the other images from this set-up.
Just a little background, we were not allowed to place any remote cameras in the ring (a practice that has become common place at major competitions) so in a moment of brilliance that I can only believe think I intercepted from someone else's brain cells, it occurred to me to place my remote under the trainer's platform. The last fence of the class, the first round of the Nations Cup, was a big oxer on a long distance from an airy combination (if memory serves.) It proved to be a heart breaker for quite a number of riders/teams all day.
In the morning session I watched group after group on the platform "ride" the course, gyrate and react with each clear jump and error. Some time in the middle of the morning it just hit me, and then I believe I hit my dear friend Sue Stickle in the arm! I had to get permission from out Photo Chief David Porter at lunch for the camera placement, which he had no issue with as it was off the "field of play," below the edge of the platform and hidden in some decorative shrubbery and thus out of the way of the almighty television cameras. My biggest concern was that someone would fall off and damage the equipment/injure themselves.
The howling from me and my fellow photographers as I did my first run through the card of images will be one of my favorite memories of WEG. By the fifth of October, the day this was shot, most of us had been shooting for 1.5 weeks with only a few hours of sleep per night. Tempers were getting short, dark circles were appearing under eyes, and many of us swore we would not be eating a cheeseurger again for a very long time. This evening of editing sent me on the search for some crazy music to set the slide show to, but the laughter, tears and side stitches from our little corner of the tent were the best sound of all.
The fun thing (and many times most frustrating) about the remote is not knowing what you have. So many things can go wrong, and most do all at once. You don't focus well, your exposure is wrong (and shooting into the sky makes that something you have to take into account), your remote doesn't fire because you have forgotten to turn the camera or the remote on, you are on the wrong channel, or the radio signal is blocked by some unforeseen force. You can never make your remote the entree, it always must be the icing on the cake you don't know if you will have room for at the end of the meal. I got lucky on all counts. I will say the reactions the first half of the day were a bit stronger because the riders figured out the striding by the afternoon and the stronger riders went later in the day. But I am my biggest critic, and I always know it could have been a little bit better.
I will admit, I never thought this image had a chance in the contest. There isn't a horse included and the venue/signage doesn't jump out as a dominant portion. But it just screamed to me!